Sunday, November 23, 2014

How the 2nd Century church worshipped, according to Justin, ca. 150 A.D.

According to Justin, on Sunday all those believers in good standing in the city and country side gathered to worship on Sunday because that is the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead and the day God began his creation. First, baptism of new believers, prayers, kiss of fellowship, eucharist, praise to the Trinity, prayer, reading the memoirs of the apostles or prophets (the future Bible), exhortation from the president, prayer, collection to support the needy, widows, orphans, prisoners and strangers.
Chapter 65. Administration of the sacraments
But we, after we have thus washed him [believer to be baptized] who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized [illuminated] person, and for all others in every place, that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation. Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to γένοιτο [so be it]. And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion.

Chapter 66. Of the Eucharist
And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, This do in remembrance of Me, Luke 22:19 this is My body; and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, This is My blood; and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.

Chapter 67. Weekly worship of the Christians
And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.

The First Apology Justin, born at Flavia Neapolis, about A.D. 100, converted to Christianity about A.D. 130, taught and defended the Christian religion in Asia Minor and at Rome, where he suffered martyrdom about the year 165. Two "Apologies" bearing his name and his "Dialogue with the Jew Tryphon" have come down to us.




Inclusion delusion

“Inclusion” is today’s shibboleth. It is used as a powerful incantation to cast out evil spirits, which today means any censure of homosexual acts. Expect to hear leaders of Catholic organizations use this incantation early and often: “In the Name of the Father, Son, and Spirit of Inclusion.” R. R. Reno, Editor of First Things

http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/11/catholic-capitulation-on-marriage

A Christmas or Epiphany poem

Are you needing a poem for your Christmas letter, or perhaps a reading at church? "The work of Christmas" by Howard Thurman just might fit the bill. I met Dr. Thurman when I was at Manchester College when he came to give a workshop on peace studies. http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/8598/now-the-work-of-christmas-begin




Thursday, August 07, 2014

How to ride a dead horse--the church version

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians—passed on from generation to generation—says that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

Modern churches, however, have found a whole range of far more advanced strategies to use, such as:

1.     Buying a stronger whip.

2.     Changing riders.

3.     Declaring, “God told us to ride this horse.”

4.     Appointing a committee to study the horse.

5.     Threatening the horse with termination.

6.     Proclaiming, “This is the way we’ve always ridden this horse.”

7.     Develop a training session to improve our riding ability.

8.     Reminding ourselves that other churches ride this same kind of horse.

9.     Determining that riders who don’t stay on dead horses are lazy, lack drive, and have no ambition - then replacing them.

10.  Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.

11.  Reclassifying the horse as “living-impaired.”

12.  Hiring an outside consultant to advise on how to better ride the horse.

13.  Harnessing several dead horses together to increase the speed.

14.  Confessing boldy, “This horse is not dead, but alive!”

15.  Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.

16.  Riding the dead horse “outside the box.”

17.  Get the horse a Web site.

18.  Killing all the other horses so the dead one doesn’t stand out.

19.  Taking a positive outlook – pronouncing that the dead horse doesn’t have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead, and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the church’s budget than do some other horses.

20.  Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.

21.  Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.

22.  Name the dead horse, “paradigm shift” and keep riding it.

23.  Riding the dead horse “smarter, not harder.”

24.  Stating that other horses reflect compromise, and are not from God.

25.  Remembering all the good times you had while riding that horse.

Sources for this version

Monday, July 21, 2014

Do smartphones change Christians?

I was really getting into the article about 6 ways smartphones and social media are changing Christians, and then read the final paragraph, "To listen to my entire 34-minute conversation with Wells and Groothius on the pros and cons of personal communications technology, subscribe to the Authors on the Line podcast in iTunes, download the recording (MP3), or stream the conversation." The irony. . .

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/six-ways-your-phone-is-changing-you

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Google and the Ghetto

Yesterday we had two fascinating lectures at Lakeside.  First a neighbor who got her first work experience waiting tables at The Abigail (local restaurant, now closed) explained the Google culture where she now works in California.  It was unbelievable.  They can bring their dogs to work; they can get the oil changed in their car; they can bring their laundry and dry cleaning; no desk/cubicle is more than 150 ft from food or a restroom. And she added, the food is delicious and new employees usually gain the Google ten or fifteen.  Workers have social clubs—gays, veterans, hobbies, work out gyms, etc.  Everything is for the team, and the intention is to get more production from the employees. And if employees get burnout from spending too much time at work, a supervisor will add a night out with spouse or partner to their work schedule.

Then at 3:30 p.m. an American embassy employee (Pakistan) who is also a Lakesider and a Christian, talked about the Christians in Pakistan, a tiny persecuted minority.  These people also live and work in a closed environment and rarely go beyond the borders of their ghetto.  They are a persecuted minority and recently we’ve seen stories on TV about the church burning and killing.  The police do nothing. When Pakistan became a country 65 years ago, Christians and the few remaining Hindus were promised religious freedom.  But that began to disappear in the 70s and now there is Sharia Law.  The photos I saw (of their ghetto in Islamabad) are worse than the poverty of Haiti.  These people are descendants of the mid-18th century converts by the missionaries the Europeans sent.  Christians are only welcome if they bring alcohol—Muslims are not allowed to buy it.  Everyone has an ID card that identifies the religion.

It’s very difficult to evangelize for the Christian faith in Pakistan, as you can imagine.  But it must be even harder at Google in California, where every need is met and you must be on the team or be out the door.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

God, people, society and the principle of subsidiarity


The principle of subsidiarity is why we must be careful blaming "society" for the sins of an individual, or letting the state take over for the individual accepting responsibility.


"In God's sight every individual matters in the first place as a person and only then as a social being.

Society can never be more important than the individual person. Men may never be means to a societal end. Nevertheless, social institutions such as the State and the family are necessary for the individual; they even correspond to his nature.

The principle of subsidiarity, which was developed as part of Catholic Social Teaching, states: What individuals can accomplish by their own initiative and efforts should not be taken from them by a higher authority. A greater and higher social institution must not take over the duties of a subordinate organization and deprive it of its competence. Its purpose, rather, is to intervene in a subsidiary fashion (thus offering help) when individuals or smaller institutions find that a task is beyond them. (YOUCAT questions 322-323)" [I'm sure this principle exists for some Protestant groups, but this was easier to find.]

I can think of many social programs that originally were designed to help individuals or smaller institutions in the principle of subsidiarity. Then they were flipped on their heads and the bigger authority took over the duties and rights of the individual, given by God. Think of the difference between government aid for hurricane victims (a huge task require efforts of many agencies and state functions) and the government telling parents what they can put in a child's sack lunch for school.

Friday, May 30, 2014

From Latin to Dhimba in just a few centuries


By the fourth century AD the Roman Empire had moved from the Greek language to Latin for the ordinary folk which created a problem for Christians reading scripture in their own language. The Pope chose Jerome (now St. Jerome) to translate the Bible into Latin. He was a good choice. He knew Latin, Greek and Hebrew, had studied Aramaic, and could speak Syriac and knew some Arabic. He spent 20 years at his task, and we should all be grateful. When we were in Bethlehem a few years ago our Palestinian guide (a Christian) showed us his cell/cave.


This week I received an announcement from Lutheran Bible Translators Messenger, Spring 2014, that the Dhimba people have received the New Testamewnt in their language for the first time and had a big celebration. The Dhimba are an estimated 30,000 people living along the Namibia/Angola border. They are anxious to start on the Old Testament as it is more understandable culturally for the Dhimba. LBT in the footsteps of Jerome.

http://us.lbt.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/news-jstrasen.pdf

"Ondaka ya ninga omuntu ngwaa kala mokati ketu." Johannes 1:14 Etestamende Epe

"The word became flesh and dwelt among us. . ." John 1:14

Tuesday, May 27, 2014