In talking about Gregory the Illuminator (who we remember today) Sam talks about evangelism (and how we approach it) in a way I find on target and helpful.  (It reminds me of Hugh Majors saying you had to be in a relationship with someone for years before you knew them well enough to share your faith with them!)  Sam talks about how Gregory shared his faith “in the halls of authority, where he managed to convert a king.”  It wasn’t converting the king that Sam admires.  It was sharing his faith at home. (more…)

I continue to find Sam Portaro’s “Brightest and Best” a wonderfully insightful and challenging book about our saints and seasons in the Episcopal Church.  This morning, I read his thoughts on The Epiphany of Our Lord (which is tomorrow).  He starts by noting that the number of the “kings” is three by tradition (probably because the “kings” brought three gifts), but that we don’t really know their number — it is never given to us.  And he continues by noting that the term “magus” was “often a contemptuous name for itinerant magicians and entertainers.”  We like the idea that the wise and mighty (“kings”) of the world recognized Jesus.  But they could just as easily have been “a troupe of wandering artists whose whim to follow a star brings them to the cradle of Jesus.”  And he talks about the “exotic, mysterious, and wonderful” possibility that “some simple and foolish people, drawn to the side of the manger, might surrender everything to the unknown child therein.” (more…)

Yes, I know.  For most people, Christmas started around Thanksgiving and ended on December 25.  Many of the mega churches started holding their Christmas services weeks before Christmas Day.  But, for me (at least “officially” for all Episcopalians and others who celebrate a traditional “liturgical” year) Christmas is a season that begins on December 25 and continues through the evening of January 5 (The Epiphany is January 6, when the three “kings” come with presents for the baby Jesus).  So I’m really in the middle of my celebration of Christmas. (more…)

Do I believe in angels?

I found myself asking this question this morning as I prepared to read Matins in the church office.  And I wasn’t sure I could answer the question.

Certainly I believe in angels in the root sense of the word, the idea that there are messengers from God. (more…)

Today is my brother Fred’s birthday.

It is also the feast day for St. Helena (the Emperor Constantine’s mother, and the most prominent active Christian of her day), who is the patron of the Order of St. Helena – who’s breviary I am using.  I’m exploring the possibility of Associate status with them.  So it’s a first class feast for me these days.

Helena is not in the calendar of the Episcopal Church.  William Porcher DuBose is remembered today on that calendar.  I found myself quite taken with what I read about him.

In “Brightest and Best” Sam Portaro writes that DuBose, who was born in 1836, was “one of those persons born seemingly ahead of his time …  At the heart of his faith DuBose held a tenacious and fundamental belief in the Incarnation, the premise that in Jesus Christ God places before us not just the image of what it means to be human, but the very person who fulfills God’s intention for humankind.  Dubose would have had little patience for our spirtualizations of Jesus that make him an oddity, the exception rather than the rule of what we are to be.” (more…)

I have been enjoying “Holy Women, Holy Men (Celebrating the Saints)” — which replaces and greatly expands (and also edits) the old “Lesser Feasts and Fasts.”  We added just over 100 new names to our (optional) calendar.  And it’s been fun seeing who’s now included.  Harriet Beecher Stowe, the great opponent of slavery and the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (the best-selling book of the nineteenth century — Lincoln is supposed to have said, upon meeting her, “So this is the little lady who started this great war!”) is there.  (more…)

Well, today we remember Irenaeus of Lyons (c.125-202).  And while I was looking that up in Kathleen Jones’ “The Saints of the Anglican Calendar,” I noticed I’d underlined a lot about Cyril of Alexandria (376-444).  I checked, and Cyril (unlike Irenaeus) is not in the calendar of the Episcopal Church – not even in the expansion (by about 100 names) that came out of our last General Convention.  In my mind, this may well be a good thing.

About the only good thing in the book about Cyril is that he was “a champion of orthodoxy.”  But he also refused to consider any doctrine not found in the early church fathers.  And that denies God’s continuing revelation.  I have a problem with that. (more…)