The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you Peace. (Numbers 6: 24-26)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Random Bible Verse(s) of the Day

"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed'nego answered the king, 'O Nebuchadnez'zar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.'"  Daniel 3: 16-18

God has already saved all those who believe from the eternal fires of Hell through the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ.  All of us to proclaim Christ as Lord and believe in his atoning sacrifice have already found redemption and salvation from the fire.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abed'nego knew that Nebuchadnez'zar could do nothing more to them that take their mortal life.  They knew that God would deliver them.

When we are faced with the false gods and lifeless idols of the world, do we have the conviction of our faith to reject them, even when it might seemingly cost us in the short term?  Are we prepared to stand up and say that we worship the One, True God, and therefore nothing in the world can really harm us?

Those are questions we should answer for ourselves each and every day as we offer ourselves to God, asking his forgiveness for our sins and recommitting ourselves to him, the only true God.

Fr. Michael+

Friday, August 30, 2013

Random Bible Verse(s) for the Day

"Then Nebuchadnez'zar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed'nego be brought.  Then they brought these men before the king.  Nebuchadnez'zar said to them, 'Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed'nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image which I have set up?  Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and very kind of music, to fall down and worship the image which I have made, well and good; but if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace; and who is the god that will deliver you out of my hands?'"  Daniel 3: 13-15

How many idols have we constructed for ourselves.  Money, power, personality, jealousy, lust, popularity, gluttony, and so many others.  Read tomorrow to discover the answer given my Shadrach, Meshach and Abed'nego.

Fr. Michael+

Thursday, August 29, 2013

In The Rector's Humble Opinion

To Hell in a Hand Basket: Non-Theistic Christianity
By:  Rev’d Michael W. Millard+
Rector, Christ Memorial Episcopal Church

If you haven’t read the August 1st style piece in the Washington Post about the Dean of the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, or the follow up article in the American Spectator, you should read them both.  Many exciting and interesting opinions flow from the mouth of the senior priest of what is considered by many to be the closest thing the United States has to an established house of worship.  This is the venue for the massive state funerals of presidents and other dignitaries.  It is the colonies’ Westminster Abbey.  To the care of the Very Rev’d  Gary Hall this grand cathedral has been entrusted.

Let’s begin with an interesting quote from the Post’s article about marriage:

Life experiences informed Hall’s unconventional views on marriage. (His parents were married seven times between them.) “We have this cartoon in America where you grow up, get married and stay the same person,” he says. “For the church to say, ‘No sex before marriage,’ is not realistic,” he argues, explaining that he has married at least 500 couples, only about five of whom did not live together beforehand. He believes that for the church to say it wants to celebrate marriage and honor marriage, the church needs to give some guidance on “how to live a life of faithfulness and integrity.” (emphasis added)

Perhaps unwittingly, he is absolutely right about one thing.  The Church does need to provide much more guidance on ‘how to live a life of faithfulness and integrity’.  I assume, however, that my take on this is somewhat different than his.  Since I have been giving pre-marriage counseling to couples seeking to marry in the Episcopal Church most of them have been at least sleeping together if not co-habitating.  My counsel is to stop it.  Having people move out of homes or apartments is often difficult or impossible for a variety of reasons, but my requirement is that they stop having sex.  The Bible does, and the Episcopal Church used to, teach that fornication is a violation of the God’s law.  It is a sin, and if the Church were to once again embrace that teaching, then maybe we could give some proper guidance to our society about how to live with faithfulness and integrity.

I don’t think that is the direction Dean Hall plans to go, however:

Under Hall’s leadership, the cathedral announced it will start performing same-sex marriages. “Our position [the Church’s] has been don’t ask, don’t tell. We’ve been more about etiquette than ethics.

I might be wrong, but it seems that rather than returning to a traditional, Biblical understanding of human sexuality; I believe that Dean Hall prefers another option.

The big reveal, the money quote, if you will, of the Post’s piece is this:

He tells of sitting next to the renowned atheist Richard Dawkins at a dinner and discussing God. Hall told Dawkins,’I don’t believe in the God you don’t believe in either.’

That kind of atheism, though, is bankrupt. It’s like picking a fight with a cultural image no theologian would buy into. I don’t want to be loosey-goosey about it, he says, but I describe myself as a non-theistic Christian. (emphasis added)

For proper reference, and before our minds collectively implode, let us turn to the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church for a definition of theism:

Theism, as the word is currently employed, may be said to denote a philosophical system which accepts a transcendent and personal God who not only created but also preserves and governs the world, the contingency of which does not exclude miracles and the exercise of human freedom.  Theism, therefore, leaves room for the Christian revelation and is in various forms the view of the world common to all orthodox Christian philosophers: it is also required by Judaism and Islam.

If I, in my poor, benighted and unenlightened state, understand this definition; and the Dean of  the National Cathedral intentionally strung together the words “non”, “theistic” and “Christian” in that order with proper forethought and not in some kind of Tourette-like spasm, then the follow conclusions might be drawn:

            1.  He accepts neither a transcendent nor a personal God;
2.  That God, which he does not accept, did not create the world, does not preserve the world nor does he, under any circumstances, govern the world;
            3.  There is little room, therefore, for miracles, and the jury is still out on human freedom;
            4.  Revelation seems to be problematic since he has rejected God from the onset;
            5.  And, finally, Christians, Jews and Muslims have all got it wrong.

The phrase “non-theistic Christian” is a non-sequitor, an oxymoron.  Unfortunately, this phrase comes tripping from the lips of a priest, a man who has taken vows before a God which he apparently doesn’t recognize.  He is supposed to be a teacher, preacher and leader of a flock entrusted to him by God.  If he doesn’t really believe that God is God, then he should have the integrity and honesty to renounce his vows and throw away the collar.  That way, he might avoid a certain millstone around his neck and a reservation for the eighth circle of Hell.

On a lighter note, after Mass this past Sunday I asked several people to tell me what they thought of the phrase “non-theistic Christian”.  They all looked at me as if I had walked up to them and said, “Spinach-pomegranate gorilla.”  It made about the same amount of sense to them.

Of course the Dean goes further:

“Jesus doesn’t use the word God very much,” he says. “He talks about his Father.”

Hall explains: “Where I am now, how do I understand Jesus as a son of God that’s not magical? I’m trying to figure out Jesus as a son of God and a fully human being, if he has both fully human and a fully divine set of chromosomes. . . . He’s not some kind of superman coming down. God is present in all human beings. Jesus was an extraordinary human being. Jesus didn’t try to convert. He just had people at his table. (emphasis added)

A reading from the Gospel according to Mark:

And he [Jesus] said to them, ‘Go into the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.’  Mark 16: 15-16 (RSV)

Dean Hall may have missed this obscure passage since it was carefully hidden in the Bible.  He apparently missed a lot of passages in the Bible that revealed Jesus’ divine nature, his frequent miracles and the various people he admonished for not following the rules.  I wonder if maybe he was absent from class the day his class covered the entirety of the Old and New Testaments?

Not to put too fine a point on it, Dean Hall is at best a hypocrite, because he teaches and preaches about a God in whom he doesn’t believe; and at worst he is a heretic, because he really does teach and preach what he believes which is in direct contradiction to the doctrine and teaching of the Church.

I am trying very hard not to attack the man but the view that he, himself, has put before the people.  It seems to me that his is the worldview of an aging hippie, a product of a hung-over generation that cannot and/or will not accept a transcendent God that speaks Truth that is contrary to their own enlightened and self-centered view of things.  Their pursuit of enlightened emotional fulfillment blinds them to the simple joy of a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ based on his Father’s revelation of himself to the world through the prophet, apostles, martyrs and the very life of Christ, the Messiah.

Dean Hall is emblematic of the problem inherent in liberal Protestantism.  He is willing to throw away the very core of our Judeo-Christian faith in favor of something new that will fix all the problems of the past and lead us smiling and shining into the bright sunlight of a perfect, progressive tomorrow.

I do look forward to the day when I will walk forward into the dazzling light of a perfect tomorrow, but that will only happen when I stand before my judge, my Savior and my God.  In him, I will be resurrected into eternal life and given my place in the heavenly city.  This is goal of all who believe. 

Fr. Michael+

Editor's Note:  This post represents the opinion of the Rector of Christ Memorial.  I post it because I want the people under my charge to be aware of the state of things in the world and in the Church.  I hope that this post will generate some discussion.  I hope that it will inform and maybe cause a giggle at the appropriate points.  I also hope that it will remind those who read it that we must stand firm in our faith and be ready to defend and advocate what we believe to each other, our children and the world.  Pax, MWM+

Random Bible Verse(s) of the Day

"For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, 'This is my body which is for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.'  In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood.  Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.'  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes."  1 Corinthians 11: 23-26

A word about "remembrance".  Some have used this word in English to reduce the meaning of the Holy Eucharist to a memorial, thereby obviating the deeper question of the real presence of Christ in the elements on the Altar.  It is not a mere memorial.  The Greek word anamnesis does mean remember when translated literally into English, but its meaning is deeper than than.  It means more than just to conjure up an image of a thing or event that happened in the past.  In addition to remembering, it also calls the reader to bring that image or event from the past and to the present.  There is a sense that one actually makes the past a part of the present.

While the priest is not re-sacrificing Christ on the Altar, once was quite sufficient for the entirety of creation, the Eucharist is more than mere memorial, it is in a sense a spiritual re-enactment of Christ's offering of his body and blood to us so that we might continually share in his presence.  As Anglican's we believe that Christ is present in the bread and wine, his body and blood.  Exactly how this happens remains, to a great extent, a mystery; but a few heavenly mysteries are what make our faith exciting and supernatural.

Fr. Michael+

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In This Week's Mansfield Enterprise

On the front page above the fold is our very own Brenda Hall.  Brenda is the new Executive Director of the DeSoto Parish Chamber of Commerce.  Congratulations, Brenda!

On page 15, there is an article about buggy whips and God.

Go pick up a copy today, or view it on-line.  As of the posting of this article, the new addition of the paper is not yet on-line, but is should be by tomorrow.  You can access past editions of the paper on-line if you wish.  
Fr. Michael+

Random Bible Verse(s) of the Day

"But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse.  For, in the first place, when you assemble as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.  When you meet together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat.  For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal, and one is hungry and another is drunk.  What!  Do you not have houses to eat and drink in?  Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?  What shall I say to you?  Shall I commend you in this?  No, I will not."  1 Corinthians 11: 17-22

I believe that Paul is talking about an Agape Meal, a kind of potluck supper that the members of the church ate as part of their weekly, or daily, worship of God.  The primary problem was that some were bringing great food, like filet with roasted asparagus tips and hollandaise sauce and a perky bottle of Chateau du Snobby Merlot, but were not sharing it with those who could only bring turkey sandwiches and Kool-aid.  This was a problem because it sowed dissension in the church and created enmity between the people of God.

Humans have a tremendous ability to find ways to separate ourselves from each other.  There are times when we just don't get along.  That being said, but not necessarily endorsed, church is supposed to be the place where all people can come and do the one, most important thing, together: Worship God!  Just as the people of Corinth were expected to put aside their petty desires and to share their food equally before God, we are to put aside our differences so that we can share in the celebration of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Remember, folks, it's not about us.

Fr. Michael+

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


            Week of August 25 - $1,011.17

            Sunday, August 25  @ 8:am -11  @ 10:am - 32

            Wednesday, August 21 - 17
THIS WEEK’S EVENTS – The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
            This weeks scriptures:
            Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 7:1-6; Hebrews 12:18-29; Luke 13:10-17
            Tuesday,  7:00 am will be coffee and conversation in the parish hall. 

            Bro. Lawrence on Tuesday.

            Wednesday, August  28 Mass at 6:00 pm., dinner, and Discussion  

* Please call the church and let  Fr. Michael know if you plan on attending Wednesday night service and supper.  If you don’t get to RSVP – please come anyway!  There will be plenty of food and fellowship and a chance to study God’s Word together.**
Morning Prayer Monday through Friday 8:am in the chapel

            20th – Bro. Ken

YOUTH NEWS         


            Saturday, September 7, at 9:00 am a meeting of the altar guild.  Everyone who is
interested in this ministry is invited and needed.  Fr. Michael will instruct us on the duties of the altar guild.  
Sunday School will resume September 8 with breakfast at 8:55 am.  Family bible study begins at 9:15 am. in the Parish Hall.
            Principal Sunday Mass will move to 10:30 am starting September 8.

All announcements are posted on the bulletin board along with sign up sheets for Wednesday night attendance.  Also there is a sign up sheet if you would like to host the supper one Wednesday night.

Time to start collecting items for Operation Christmas Child.  National Collection Week is November 18-25.


To Jeanne Christian for her remarkable recovery from her hip surgery!  So glad you’re back.



            All those on our Intercession list.
            Family of Donnie McAllen
            Helen Jordan
            Kermie Valentine
            Betty Hall, room 12, DeSoto Regional Hospital.


Be kind whenever possible.  It is always possible.

If you know of someone who would like to receive this newsletter
or have something you would like to add please have them send their email address to:

Random Bible Verse(s) of the Day

"Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct, since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy,'"  1 Peter 1: 13-16

When we become followers of Christ, we are converted.  We cease to be those who wander in the darkness, afraid of the dark.  We cease to be those who chase after the temporary pleasures and distractions of the world in a vain attempt to satiate some gnawing desire for happiness, contentment and love.  The world fulfill that need.  Only God can; and when we come to him, we are changed.  We find our joy in the Lord and in keeping his Commandments.

Does that mean that we will no longer sin?  Does that mean that if we sin we have not really been converted?  No, on both accounts.  We are still broken.  We are still in need of God's continual grace and mercy.  When our conduct carries us away from God, we are called to repent and turn back to him who is always ready to forgive.  When we fail, Christ is ready to set us on our feet again, as long as we repent of our sins and seek to live according to his ways.  This is not a "Get out of Jail Free Card".  We must strive for perfection, even if we know that we will only achieve it at our end when we kneel before Jesus in Paradise.

Fr. Michael+

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sunday's Sermon

The Sermon from Sunday, August 25, 2013

Jeremiah 1: 4

Fr. Michael+

Random Bible Verse(s) of the Day

"Then the angel called the two of them privately and said to them: 'Praise God and give thanks to him; exalt him and give thanks to him in the presence of all the living for what he has done for you.  It is good to praise God and to exalt his name, worthily declaring the works of God.  Do not be slow to give him thanks.  It is good to guard the secret of a king, but gloriously to reveal the works of God.  Do good, and evil will not overtake you.  Prayer is good when accompanied by fasting, almsgiving, and righteousness.  A little with righteousness is better than much with wrongdoing.  It is better to give alms than to treasure up gold.  For almsgiving delivers from death, and it will purge away every sin.  Those who perform deeds of charity and of righteousness will have fulness [sic] of life; but those who commit sin are the enemies of their own lives.'"  Tobit 12: 6-10

Tobit is a devout Jew and a righteous man who is taken captive by the Assyrians with the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 721 BC.  As his life draws to a close, he is in a lowly state and blind.  His son is sent to reclaim the family fortune and ends up traveling with Raphael (the angel, not the painter or ninja turtle), finding a wife and praising God.  A deuterocanonical work, the Anglican tradition includes Tobit in a section of the Bible called the Apocrypha and recognizes its value for moral formation but not for doctrinal teaching.
This passage from Tobit reminds us that it is always right and proper to worship God, and to do what is right, specifically in the manner of giving alms to the poor and performing acts of charity.

Fr. Michael+

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Not So Random Verse(s) for the Day

14th Sunday after Pentecost Proper 16

"Now the Word of the Lord came to me [Jeremiah] saying, 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.'"  Jeremiah 1: 4

Imagine how many prophets, how many doctors, how many physicists, how many teachers, how many philosophers, how many mothers and how many fathers were never allowed to fulfill their God-given purpose in life because they were denied life.

Abortion is not part of God's plan.

Fr. Michael+

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Random Bible Verse(s) for the Day

"Moreover Josiah put away the mediums and the wizards and the teraphim and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might establish the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found int he house of the Lord.  Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him."  2 Kings 23: 24-25

The law of Moses clearly names mediums, witches, wizards, soothsayers, seers and the like as abominations that shall not be tolerated by the people of God.  Add to this dumb idols to false gods, and you've got a helluva mess.  Do we not still play around with things like this.  Telephone psychics and Harry Potter and the Ouija boards are but a few of the modern examples of things rooted someplace other than God.  When we put our faith in false idols and dangerous spiritual concerns, we move away from the Truth; and we leave ourselves open to the beguiling temptations of the Prince of This World, Satan.

What happened to the Kingdom of Judah?  In 587 B.C., the Babylonians came knocking on the front gate.  When they left, their weren't two stones of the Temple of God left standing atop another.

Fr. Michael+

Friday, August 23, 2013

Random Bible Verse(s) of the Day

"And he [Josiah] defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the sons of Hinnom, that no one might burn his son or his daughter as an offering to Molech."  2 Kings 23: 10

Yes, there were Hebrews in Judah who sacrificed their children to the pagan god Molech.  This is one of the most disgusting and heart wrenching examples of why God ordered his people not to interact with the people of the land of Canaan.  By the 6th century B.C., even the Temple in Jerusalem was adorned with idols dedicated to the Ba'al and the Ashe'rah.  In the valley of the sons of Hinnom, children were sacrificed to a god by people who often publicly professed their faith in the Lord God in the Temple.

This continues today.  Countless millions of innocent children continue to be sacrificed on the altar of Molech, only now the altar is an abortion house and the priests pretend to be doctors.  The idols of legalism, consumerism and egoism have combined to replace Molech; but the outcome is still the same.  Children are being sacrificed for a supposed benefit to those who offer them up.

This must stop.

Fr. Michael+

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Random Bible Verse(s) of the Day

"And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, 'I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord.'  And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.  And Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, 'Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the Lord.'  Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, 'Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.'  And Shaphan read it before the king.  And when the king heard the words of the book of the law, he rent his clothes.  And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king's servant, saying, 'Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.'" 2 Kings 22: 8-13

Josiah, the King of Judah, was the last hope for the kingdom of Judah.  The Northern Kingdom of Israel had abandoned the worship of the One, True God in favor of two idols of gold, the golden calves in Dan and at Bethel.  That Kingdom, because of its evil, had been swallowed by the Assyrians and disappeared from the face of the earth.  Judah had also fallen into idol worship and despicable evil, but King Josiah, following the discovery of the book of the Law of Moses in the Temple, recognized the sin into which his people had descended.  His repentance and efforts to reform the kingdom were sincere; but his death brought them to a premature end.

Fr. Michael+

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Random Bible Verse(s) of the Day

"Listen therefore, O kings, and understand; learn, O judges of the ends of the earth.  Give ear, you that rule over multitudes, and boast of many nations.  For your dominion was given you from the Lord, and your sovereignty from the Most High, who will search out your works and inquire into your plans.  Because as servants of his kingdom you did not rule rightly, nor keep the law, nor walk according to the purpose of God, he will come upon you terribly and swiftly, because severe judgement falls on those in high places.  For the lowliest man may be pardoned in mercy, but might men will be mightily tested."  The Wisdom of Solomon 6: 1-6

Every elected official should be forced to memorize this passage prior to their taking office.

Fr. Michael+

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Random Bible Verse(s) of the Day

"Thus says the Lord: 'Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, whose heart turns away from the Lord.  He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come.  He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.  Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.  He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.'"  Jeremiah 17: 5-8

I think that we all spend time in the desert.  We face hardships and challenges; but the deeper our roots, the stronger we are and the better we can handle the stress of desert life.

Fr. Michael+

Monday, August 19, 2013

Random Bible Verse(s) of the Day

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones." Proverbs 3: 5-8

Makes sense to me.

Fr. Michael+

Sermon from 13 Pentecost - August 18, 2013

Someone told me after Mass, "Wow, you went all in today, Father."  I think that is a good review.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Not So Random Bible Verse(s) of the Day

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 15)

Jesus the Cause of Division
"I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!  I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!  Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth?  No, I tell you, but rather division; for henceforth in one house there will five divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."  Luke 12: 49-53

Sometimes we disagree.  Look at the political landscape of our country today, and it quickly becomes clear that we are divided quite evenly along party lines.  Among families, among friends, there is disagreement over any number of political problems and their possible solutions.  Jesus acknowledges in the closing verses of this chapter of Luke that he will divide friends and families.  Those who follow him will often be placed in opposition to others who reject Christ.  Among the Jews, Christians will eventually be thrown out of the Temple and the Synagogues, and family members will be rejected and persecuted for proclaiming the arrival of the Messiah.  In today's world, we are still faced with a division.  Today, Christians who reject the false gods of the secular world and seek to live according to their tradition and their Faith are often criticized, and maligned.  In some parts of the world, they are persecuted and martyred for their faith.  We must not shy away from that division.  It is acceptable, even mandatory, to stand in opposition to the evil that permeates the world and threatens to ensnare and beguile us; even when that is uncomfortable and difficult.

Fr. Michael+

Friday, August 16, 2013

Random Bible Verse(s) for the Day

"Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake." Dt 15: 10

This is strictly speaking not a random verse because it is one that appears in the e-mail newsletter that I received today from Operation Christmas Child of Northwest Louisiana.  We are three months away from collection week, November 18-25.  That means that we need to start focusing on collecting our items and planning our packing parties.  I am thinking that our first packing party should be in mid-October.  I'll finalize that date and announce it in the coming week.  I am also thinking about ways to use Halloween as a way to collect and pack shoe boxes.  Anyone with ideas about that should let me know.

If you are not familiar with Operation Christmas Child, or would like more information about it or Samaritan's Purse, please check out Operation Christmas Child

Fr. Michael+

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Random Bible Verse(s) of the Day

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love;
     according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
     and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
     and my sin is ever before me.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight,
     so that thou art justified in thy sentence and blameless in thy judgement.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
     and in sin did my mother conceive me."
                                                    Psalm 51: 1-5

The Forgiveness of Sins
Even now, however, the angels are in concord with us when our sins are forgiven.  So in our confession of faith the forgiveness of sins comes next in order after mention of the holy Church.  It is because of this that the Church on earth stands, because of this that what was lost is found and does not perish.  With the exception of the gift of baptism, which has been given to us against original sin, so that what was contracted through birth might be taken away through rebirth - and it also takes away actual sins which it finds to have been committed whether in the heart or the mouth or in deed - with the exception of this great forgiveness, the beginning of man's regeneration in which all guilt whether inborn or acquired is removed, the rest of our life once we have come to the age when we can use our reason, however rich it may be in fruits of justice, is not lived without forgiveness of sins, since God's children, for as long as they live this mortal life, are in conflict with death.  The Augustine Catechism: The Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Love; St. Augustine of Hippo, section 64.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Random Bible Verse(s) of the Day

"The wisdom of a humble man will lift up his head, and will seat him among the great.  Do not praise a man for his good looks, nor loathe a man because of his appearance.  The bee is small among flying creatures, but her product is the best of sweet things.  Do not boast about wearing fine clothes, nor exalt yourself in the day that you are honored; for the works of the Lord are wonderful, and his works are concealed from men.  Many kings have had to sit on the ground, but one who was never thought of has worn a crown.  Many rulers have been greatly disgraced, and illustrious men have been handed over to others."  Sirach 11: 1-6

Watch out Hollywood and Washington D.C.

Fr. Michael+

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sermons Available on Sermon.Net

For anyone who is interested:  Fr. Michael's Sermons 

Random Bible Verse(s) for the Day

"Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month they shall take every man a lamb according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household; and if the household is too small for a lamb, then a man and his neighbor next to his house shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb.  Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old; you shall take it from the sheep or from the goats; and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs in the evening.  Then they shall take some of the blood, and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat them."  Exodus 12: 3-7

The blood of the lamb that was slain on the night of the Passover protected the people of Israel from the final, and most gruesome, of the plagues to strike Egypt.  The Angel of Death passed over the houses of the faithful because the doorposts and lintels were washed in the blood of the lamb.  We who are washed in the Blood of the Lamb of God receive the same gift.  Death has no dominion over us; and we shall be afraid.

Just a thought.

Fr. Michael+

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Not So Random Bible Verse(s) for the Day

12 Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 14

"What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?  says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of he-goats."  Isaiah 1: 11

Isaiah was called by God to be a prophet to the leaders and the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  When the united kingdom divided following the death of Solomon, the people of the Israel were cut-off from the Temple in Jerusalem in Judah.  Therefore, they began to sacrifice at the ancient holy place of Bethel and at the a place in Dan, both places adorned by order of the king with a golden calf.  What was the greatest sin of Israel?  They did not worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  They instead worshiped idols and the Ba'als of the people of the land.  God does not want empty sacrifices offered to lifeless idols.  He wants his people to worship HIM.  More importantly, he wants his people to know him and follow him because it is right to do so.

"Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil.  learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow."  Isaiah 1: 16-17

Friday, August 9, 2013

Random Bible Verse(s) of the Day

"Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.  For it is a sham even to speak of the things that they do in secret; but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.  Therefore it is said, 'Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.'"  Ephesians 5: 11-14

Notes from my Bible:

5: 14 - awake O sleeper:  Possibly an excerpt from an ancient baptismal hymn.  it resonates with the surrounding themes of light, symbolic of purity and truth, and darkness, symbolic f sin and ignorance (5: 7-13).  The summons to 'arise from the dead' is a call to break away from the sinful world and live as children of light (5: 7-8; 2 Cor 6: 14).

Fr. Michael+

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Rector's Article from the August Newsletter

We Shall Study God’s Word Together

One of my very good friends at seminary came up with a brilliant description of how the Church should relate to the secular world.  He said that the Church is supposed to be a thermostat not a thermometer.  In other words, the Church is not supposed to merely measure the temperature or condition of the world, like the thermometer that mom puts in the mouth of a sick child to gauge the amount of fever present; rather, the Church’s role is to impact society and influence its condition much like the thermostat in our houses makes it cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  In short, do we affect the world, or does the world affect us?

How then do we do that?  We start with each of us and where we place our priorities.  We start by committing ourselves to not only study but to live in the Word of God.  We commit ourselves to know God better so that when we come together as a community of believers to worship God in the Mass, we know who we are worshiping, and, more importantly, he knows us!  In order to do this, there will be some changes made in the way we gather to study and know God.

September 8, the first Sunday after Labor Day, will mark the beginning of a renewed emphasis on how we study and live the Word of God.  This will involve a few major changes in the way that we do our Sunday Bible Study.  Most significantly, Sunday School will be a family affair.  We will unite as a church family of many different ages and experiences to hear, discuss and be challenged by Holy Scripture. 

At 8:55 a full breakfast of eggs, meat, biscuits, fruit and beverages will be served the first Sunday of every month.  Continental breakfasts will be served every other Sunday.  At 9:15 am, we will begin our weekly Sunday Bible Study with prayer, and we praise God with hymns or worship songs.  Following the announcements, I will then lead the Bible Study which will use St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians as the central fixture of a broader study of how we are to live as Christians in the modern world.  There will be time for discussion, and significant time devoted to prayer: intercessory prayer for each other, prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of supplication or whatever the body of Christ gathered together feels called upon to offer to God.  Then we celebrate the presence of God in our midst with Mass at 10:30 am.

Yes, Mass will be at 10:30.  Our renewed focus on Sunday School necessitates having more time between the services on Sunday so that we can do justice to our study and then to our worship.  In order to do this, beginning on September 8, the time of the Principal Mass on Sunday will be moved from 10:00 am to 10:30 am.  This will hopefully give more time for study and fellowship, both integral parts of our common life together.

Two thousand years ago, a group of dedicated believers set out to change the world.  They did.  Today, we are called to continue that commission, and we do so with the same tools that they used: The Word of God, the Real Presence of Christ in our Celebration of the Mass and the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit within us.  To be effective, we must immerse ourselves in his Word; we must unite at the Altar of Christ as one and we must be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit and all the possibilities he brings.  I hope that our renewed emphasis on the study of God’s Word will excite and challenge the people of Christ Memorial and provide a means to bring new families into our church.  God is calling us to greater things, and this, I’m convinced, is how we are going to heed his call.

Fr. Michael+

Random Bible Verse(s) of the Day

Sacrifices Well-Pleasing to God

Let brotherly love continue.  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them; and those who are ill-treated, since you also are in the body.  Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral and adulterous.  Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, "I will never fail you nor forsake you."  Hebrews 13: 1-5

From the Notes in my Bible:

13: 4 - "the marriage bed":  Prohibits every form of sexual immorality inside (e.g. adultery) and outside (e.g. fornication) the boundaries of lawful wedlock.  This standard of chastity applies to the married and unmarried alike.

13: 5 - "love of money":  A deadly vice that, left unchecked, can destroy our hope of salvation (Mt 6: 24; 19: 23).

Give up the idols.  Fornication (sex outside of marriage) and adultery (sex with someone other than one's spouse) are both forms of idolatry.  It is a disordered worship of a God given aspect of our humanity.  Money becomes an idol and a controlling factor in our lives when we forget that God provides for us, and we instead worship the coin of the realm as the provider of our needs and source of our happiness.

Just a thought.

Fr. Michael+

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

From the Mouths of Babes

This is an article of mine that appears in this week's edition of The Enterprise and Interstate Progress.

The Mouths of Babes

Recently, at our Wednesday night Bible Study, we considered why it was important for us, the followers of Jesus Christ, to spend time studying Holy Scripture.  On the face of it, this seems a very simplistic question, but it is one that is still worth asking.  Maybe it would help to rephrase the question:  With all the distractions and temptations of the world around us, and the obligations of work and family that occupy so much of our time, why should we make Bible study a priority?

As we went around the room, the answers given were accurate and appropriate and heartfelt.  “Because it brings us closer to God,” said one person.  “Because the Bible teaches us how we are supposed to live and relate to each other as well as God,” said another.  “Reading it deepens our faith,” said another.  “Because the more time we spend in the Word the more we want to be in the Word and to know God better,” came and excellent answer.  All these are absolutely true and excellent reasons, but then we got the one that really hit the nail on the head: “Because God wants us to!”

We need only look at the natural world and study the way the universe works to realize the existence of a creator.  The complexity and the beauty of the world point directly to God.  Modern science has peered into the deepest recesses of space and time and concludes that everything had a point of origin but those who are honest and humble also recognize that something or someone made something out of nothing   The chances that the complexity of life on our planet could come about merely by a series of random mutations and accidental combinations of organic chemicals are so remote as to be ridiculous.  Therefore, there must be a creator; there must be a God.

We might not doubt his existence, but what do we know about him or his intentions for his creations?  That’s where the Bible comes into play.  The Bible is a collection of inspired documents, written by man under the direction and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  It solves the problem of how we are to know God because it is his revelation of himself to his people.  In Holy Scripture, God tells us who he is.  He shows us his intentions for his people: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Why should we make reading the Bible a priority in our lives?  Because that is how God reveals himself to us.  God wants us to know him and his plan for us.  In short, God wants us to.

By the way, the answer “Because God wants us to” was given by a 7 year old.  Truly words of wisdom from the mouths of babes.

Fr. Michael+

Open Again for Business

I have decided to resurrect (overt Christian overtone) this blog after too long a time away.  I hope to post to it regularly, and maybe even to have others from Christ Memorial posting as well.  The posts might be cute, deep and inspiring or topical and possibly snarky.


Fr. Michael+