When were the saints at the height of their joy,
but when they were suffering for their God and Saviour?
St. Teresa of Avila,
In a letter to the Reverend Father Hohn de Jesu Roca,
Carmelite, at Pastrana
(Palmer Chapel Methodist Church / Cataloochee National / Cataloochee Valley in the
Something that I’ve long observed as a Christian is that we members
of the faithful flock often walk a fine line with our faith and following.
We do so because we have been programed by words like sin, guilt, suffering,
penance, punishment—words that have throughout time
become sentiments hammered into our heads—worn around our necks like a
an every growing weighted chain.
Sentiments that we must experience if we are to be true to our faith.
Simply put, the burden is part and parcel of life as a Christian.
Such teachings have been allowed to morph while getting tangled
and entwined in our mindset.
They become like a choking vine wrapped around a tender young sapling.
Eventually that choking vine outpaces and engulfs the poor sapling.
We are very much like that tender sapling…
striving to grow ever upward, seeking our place in the sun—or in our case
that is more like in and with the Son…but…sadly…
many of our Christian denominations have instilled in us a need to carry a
deep suffocating burden if we expect to be true followers of Christ…
And yes, we should note that that burden is in essence
our sinful nature and that of our sins…
of which I dare not wish to dismiss, diminish or make light of…
for as a sinner, I know all too well the deep and lasting effects sin
can have on our spiritual well being–especially
sin that is neither repented nor confessed let alone curtailed.
The fine line is found somewhere between redemption and that of the sin itself.
We should also note that not only do we bear the weight of our sins,
it’s as if we are expected to continue carrying the associated guilt and heaviness
of those sins and wrong doings despite our having confessed and having handed
them over to our Redeemer.
We are not allowed, nor do we allow ourselves, to truly feel the release,
the joy and the freedom that comes with redemption.
We are washed clean yet many of our denominations and religious teachings
have lead us to think, or better yet believe,
that we must constantly wear our hair shirts as a reminder
that we are never truly free.
And perhaps in many ways, we are not free.
We are tethered to this world and that of our own sinful nature.
Yet I honestly believe that Jesus wants to lighten our burdens
when we confess to him, yet in doing so, many of us, me included,
just can’t seem to shake the heaviness or associated guilt…guilt
the world and our ancient enemy would have us bear and claim despite
Jesus having claimed them for us in his death and resurrection.
It seems that I also have observed that we have been taught, again over time,
that we are to actually suffer for our faith.
And the question of this world then nags… if we are not heavy ladened and or suffering,
are we truly following as we should??
There are those who would say no.
And so we wrestle on…wrestling with our various doctrines as well as
Personally, I think Jesus has the better solution.
A solution I must embrace…I must listen for his call…
or perhaps that is more like I am yearning for his call…
Come unto me, all you who labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28)
But go and learn what this means:
‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’
For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
God has done everything; he has done the impossible:
he was made flesh. His all–
powerful love has accomplished something which surpasses all human understanding:
the Infinite has become a child, has entered the human family.
And yet, this same God cannot enter my heart unless I open the door to him.”
Pope Benedict XVI
(Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2020)
“God travels wonderful ways with human beings,
but he does not comply with the views and opinions of people.
God does not go the way that people want to prescribe for him; rather,
his way is beyond all comprehension, free and self-determined beyond all proof.
Where reason is indignant, where our nature rebels,
where our piety anxiously keeps us away:
that is precisely where God loves to be.
There he confounds the reason of the reasonable;
there he aggravates our nature, our piety—that is where he wants to be,
and no one can keep him from it.
Only the humble believe him and rejoice that God is so free and so marvelous
that he does wonders where people despair,
that he takes what is little and lowly and makes it marvelous.
And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly…
God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings.
God marches right in.
He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where
one would least expect them.
God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost,
the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded,
the weak and broken.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God is in the Manger:
Reflections on Advent and Christmas
And so He has come…
God of God
Light of Light
Very God of very God…
Begotten of woman, not made
and yet Risen again for our Redemption and Deliverance
And so it is on this Christmas day…
this day of Light and Hope…that we find not only life…
but it is in that life that we must also find death…
For it is in the miracle of both life and death…
That of His birth, His life and eventually His death…
it is there that we actually find our most necessary Hope…
It is a hope found in both life and death—
of which each mingle together so blessedly and painfully…
yet oh so poignantly…
melding into that single transcendence of the Resurrection.
So on this Christmas day we are reminded, once again, that yes,
we are to rejoice…
We rejoice because we have each been invited to a grand banquet…
We have been invited to claim our rightful place at the table…
taking in all that is freely given and yet that which is gravely
but miraculously given nonetheless.
So in that Hope, found in both birth and death,
is a brilliance of illumination…scattering the
darkness from wherever it yearns to spread.
A great Light has shown in that darkness.
And that darkness scatters
because that Light has overcome the darkness.
All of which is offered to each man and woman, young and old,
sick and in-firmed, lofty and simple…underseved, yet a gift
So yes, we are told to rejoice…
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
Again I say,
“What worthy return can we make for so great a condescension?
The One Only-begotten God, ineffably born of God,
entered the Virgin’s womb and grew and took the frame of poor humanity.
He who upholds the universe, within whom and through whom are all things,
was brought forth by common childbirth.
He at whose voice archangels and angels tremble,
and heaven and earth and all the elements of this world are melted,
was heard in childish wailing.
The Invisible and Incomprehensible,
whom sight and feeling and touch cannot measure, was wrapped in a cradle.”
St. Hilary of Poitiers
It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in your life, or how bad you’ve sinned.
I rejected God, but he still knew that I was redeemable.
I was worth saving.
There is no soul anywhere on this earth that is beyond the reach of God.
It’s never too late.
from Confessions of an Ex-Satanist: A Message of Hope
(mushroom in the woods / Julie Cook / 2020)
“The story of Christ’s life and ministry cannot be told without giving due space to Satan’s activity.
The Gospel writers carefully distinguish between cases of mere physical ailments and cases
of a demonic character (both of which Jesus cures).
Jesus frequently refers to the devil in his parables and other teachings,
and the devil himself tempts Jesus in the desert and returns again later to engineer Judas’ betrayal
(cf. Jn 13:2).
This Gospel motif teaches us an undeniable, if uncomfortable lesson: the devil is real,
and he is interested in counteracting the work of grace.
In one sense, accepting this fundamental truth, and keeping it always in the back of our minds,
can comfort us tremendously:
it helps us make sense of all the unpleasant influences at work in and around us.
We are not crazy; we are not failures; we are simply engaged in a spiritual battle.
If we believe in Jesus Christ, we must also believe in the devil—-doomed as he is,
he would love to take as many souls as he can along with him.”
Fr. John Bartunek, p. 350
An Excerpt From
The Better Part
“It is part of the discipline of God to make His loved ones perfect through trial and suffering.
Only by carrying the Cross can one reach the Resurrection.”
Archbishop Fulton Sheen
(fall leaves doing what they do, fall / Julie Cook / 2020)
Reading the late great archbishop’s words…I would imagine that some readers don’t
much care for the notion of man’s enduring trials and suffering while on this earth…
that of carrying the Cross…with each as a means of reaching the final end goal—
that of our being Resurrected with Christ.
We don’t like to think that we are meant to carry a cross, that we are meant
to suffer or endure…a loving God should want us happy and content right??
A loving God shouldn’t allow those He created and supposedly loves to suffer
or to encounter pain, violence, or be handed a heavy cross to bear…
What we need to remember is that we live in a fallen world.
Sin shadows our every move.
In our lifetime we will each experience various trials.
Avoiding them as best we try, trials will still come regardless of our vain attempts
to keep them at bay.
However, our best recourse is to rid ourselves of ourselves…
To sever our ties to the trappings of this earth.
To completely empty our hearts.
For it is in that emptying, as St Liguori reminds us, that we are allowed
be open ourselves for the filling of the Holy Spirit.
We must detach ourselves from ourselves and from the world in order to save ourselves.
And it is only through following Christ, first to Golgatha then to that empty
tomb, that we will find our true peace and joy and everlasting life.
“The heart cannot exist without love; it will love either God or creatures.
If it does not love creatures, it certainly will love God.
In order to become holy, we must therefore banish from our heart all that is not for God.
When anyone came to the Fathers of the desert and desired to be received by them he was asked:
‘Do you bring an empty heart that it may be filled by the Holy Ghost?’
And they were right, for a heart that is filled with the things of earth has no room
for the love of God.
He who brings a vessel filled with earth to the spring will never be able to fill it
with water until he empties it of the earth with which it is filled.
How does it happen that so many pray and go frequently to Holy Communion and still make
no considerable progress in the love of God?
The reason is doubtless because the heart is full of self-esteem, of vanity, of self-will,
and of attachment to creatures.
He, therefore, who wishes to arrive at the perfect love of God must practice poverty in spirit.
He must be detached from worldly possessions, from temporal honors,
from his fellow creatures, and from himself.”
St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 114-5
An Excerpt From
12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation
***off for a few days in order to find a few more falling leaves with the Mayor and the Sheriff
“God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say.
Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful:
he makes saints out of sinners.”
Soren Kierkegaard, The Journals of Kierkegaard
(gulf frittilary butterfly /Julie Cook / 2020)
Yesterday our friend Kathy, over on atimetoshare.me, offered a marvelous post examining our various
We have the greatest generation, the baby boomers, the silent generation, the Me generation,
along with that X, Y, and Z business.
A crazy mishmash of generational clarifications.
These labels are not necessarily meant to definitively define a specific group of people, given their
time of birth and their time of growing up, but it does, none the less, have a lasting pigeon hole
for those born during various time periods.
Were they quiet and steadfast?
Were they daring and wild?
Were they hyperfocused and driven?
Yet it wasn’t so much the names and characteristics of each generation that caught
my attention but rather it was the afterthought Kathy offered…
She noted that we should add in the Redeemed generation…
And I’d like to think that is this is the defining highlight of the pandemic /civil unrest generation…
a group of people that transcend both generational monikers or age barriers.
A collective group of ages and backgrounds.
Redemption that crosses both space and time…
Kathy reminds us: The beautiful message of the Gospel, assures our forgiveness if we only believe it.
Isn’t it wonderful that in this world, where evil and selfishness prevail,
those who have faith in the most important gift of God can still be part of the “Redeemed Generation.”
Because of His grace alone, we will inherit His heavenly kingdom.
Through our faith alone, which is also a gift from God,
we receive the promise of eternal life.
Through His inspired Word, we have the perfect handbook for life provided by the King of Kings.
It isn’t complicated.
May we all strive to be a part of this Redeemed generation….
“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death.
And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them?
Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment.
For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”
(a buckeye butterfly rests on a noodle / Julie Cook / 2020)
Enjoying a bit of quiet reading and reflecting with some of my favorite folks out in
blogland this afternoon, I stopped by to see what gems of wisdom our friend IB had
to allow this fine Friday in June.
It is fine, isn’t it?
I don’t know…maybe it’s not.
It’s Juneteenth, so says my phone’s calendar and now, so says thousands
gathering in the streets of Atlanta, as well as across this nation, peacefully
marching and celebrating.
It seems we’ve all received a quick tutorial on the significance of Juneteenth.
And so we hope all things remain peaceful.
But we really must wait until the sun sets and then we shall see
if the peacefulness carries itself through the night.
Their voices now rise in a crescendo chant of “justice.
But what is this justice for which they cry?
Our friend IB mused over the very same notion.
What is this justice for which these crowds so long?
Perhaps it is what I too long for—.
IB was actually writing a post about having seen a movie that was a bit of a
soothing balm when this idea of ‘what is justice’ popped in.
I’ve not seen the movie, so I can’t say…but it moved IB and thus a post
I honestly don’t know what makes me cry more, happy things or sad things?
There are lots of both in this movie and it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes.
I mean, it’s not good for your heart to be shattered, broken, for you to be wounded, right?
Except, if that’s how the love pours in, through all those cracks,
if that’s how the Lord moves into your life and brings healing,
well then, thank God for broken hearts.
Thank God when we are wounded, willing to feel the pain, rather than hardened.
It was a really validating movie too,
because I’m looking around at a world that often doesn’t make any sense and trying to talk
to people who are totally tone deaf.
I feel a bit like a broken record sometimes, always talking about meth, fentanyl,
and heroin addictions, in an area that is so pro-drugs, so pro-addiction! People are out on the streets right now crying out for justice, but justice from what??
And what does this “justice” they crave even look like?
I spend half my life trying to forgive addicts whose behavior does nothing but steal,
kill, and destroy all that is good, and the other half of my time trying to forgive
those in leadership who have enabled and condoned the whole situation either through
their incompetence or their corruption. It’s really painful, it’s really frustrating,
but it’s not a bad thing at all, because it is all about learning to love others as
Jesus loves us
“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown.
But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Both Matthew and Mark take note of the fact that this is the gospel,
that this truth, the reflective nature of grace, is so vitally important that,
“Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world,
what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
“Healing River” did a really good job of capturing the essence of that truth.
When we have been forgiven much, we love much.
And so I too think about this odd innate need for justice—
this thing we always seem to cry out for—
And this justice of ours seems to be whatever perceived notion we might be feeling at the time,
It springs from deep within our being—and there is indeed a longing.
A longing in each one of us.
We often can’t put our finger on it.
We think with our heads, trying to figure out our heart…
but we most often misread those inward groanings.
I decided to go explore the Healing River’s official site.
It is a faith-based film that sounds extremely powerful.
One reviewer noted that “the message of redemption, forgiveness and mercy
coming from and through our Lord Jesus Christ in this movie is one of great importance,
especially in our troubled world hungry for a message of hope and courage.
Fr. Patrick McMullen, St. Therese Catholic Parish, Cincinnati, OH
And so I now think I know what this cry is.
What it is we always seem to turn to when life seems overwhelmingly
unfair, unjust, and simply undone…
It is not so much for justice that we cry as it is for mercy.
It is not so much for justice as it is for forgiveness.
Sadly there is not a whole lot of forgiveness or mercy running about these days…
days which are so full of protests, anger and violent riots.
Yet those two elements are the key to quelling the painfilled groans within our beings.
Anger and rage are exhausting.
They steal one’s light, peace, joy, hope…
Mercy and forgiveness allow us to finally exhale and finally rest from the fight.
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear** him;
**remember the word fear often translates to respect
No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one.
Elbert Hubbard (1859-1915)
( a little seaweed / Julie Cook / Rosemary Beach, FL / 2019)
Apologies abound for the slight disruption recently in blogging…
But our family packed up two cars late last week and headed southward
toward the emerald waters and those sugar-white sands of Florida’s northern Gulf coast.
But more about all of that later…
So yes, a family vacation.
And so what do we know about vacations?
What do we know vacations to be?
In part, a vacation is intended for those who opt to head off to parts known or unknown,
in order to unplug, to unwind, to relax and perhaps actually reconnect with those
closest to the heart.
Our own little personal family’s jaunt included two under two,
so there wasn’t a whole lot of relaxing…
however there was a delightful shift in focus.
We were together.
And we were isolated from the rest of the world…or so it seemed.
The television, while seldomly turned on, was never turned to the news.
Computers were not turned on, let alone even touched.
Phones were used to take pictures not to check emails or alerts.
There was a much-welcomed 5 days of sheltered isolation.
We were simply left savoring the magic that happens between children and the seashore.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Yet yesterday, as we reluctantly and sadly loaded the cars in order to head back
to our real worlds, we were reminded in very quiet, yet very powerful ways,
that news had happened in our absence.
In small out of the way towns to tiny outpost post offices, as we journeyed northward,
flags were all flying at half-mast.
A US flag at half-mast is a very visceral and sobering gut check.
It reminds us that we are indeed a united Nation…no more so than in our
The half-mast flag is a significant sign of unification for a nation that has smugly
forgotten the very fact that it is united rather than divided.
It seems that there were more mass shootings taking place almost simultaneously around
31 lives lost
while many more hang in the balance from their sustained wounds.
And once again, the people cry out to their government, “What will you now do?!”
And it is in that cry that I am once again perplexed…
The people cry out to their government, their legislators, their president… “what will you do to stop all of this???”
This oh-so divided Nation that tends to draw within herself when her flags are lowered,
now demands its government do something to stop the madness.
The evil madness of mass murders.
The real help, however, the real answers, will not be found in the voices of our
presidential pundits or of our local or national legislators…or even
in the words of our much-maligned president…
No…the answers will not be found in what man can do for man…
simply because man is too busy killing man…
The answer is simple really and is found in the tiny fact that we are a nation
that has abandoned our God.
There will be those, many in number, who will argue that God matters not when
a madman takes a gun…
And yet the evil remains does it not?
And so, therefore, where lies our hope, our help, our solutions, our redemption,
In our government?
In our leaders?
In the words of man?
I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—
a people who continually provoke me to my very face,
But whoever denies and disowns Me before men,
I also will deny and disown him before My Father Who is in heaven.
According to Wikipedia the story behind today’s image: The Light of the World (1851–53) is an allegorical painting by the
English Pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt (1827–1910)
representing the figure of Jesus preparing to knock on an overgrown and
long-unopened door, illustrating Revelation 3:20:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door,
I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me”.
According to Hunt: “I painted the picture with what I thought,
unworthy though I was, to be by Divine command, and not simply as a good Subject.”
The door in the painting has no handle, and can, therefore, be opened only from the inside,
representing “the obstinately shut mind”. Hunt, 50 years after painting it,
felt he had to explain the symbolism.
The original is variously said to have been painted at night in a makeshift hut at
Worcester Park Farm in Surrey and in the garden of the Oxford University Press
while it is suggested that Hunt found the dawn light he needed outside Bethlehem
on one of his visits to the Holy Land.
In oil on canvas, it was begun around 1849/50, completed in 1853,
exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1854 and is now in a side room off the large chapel at Keble College, Oxford.
I saw this particular painting posted on our dear friend Bishop Gavin Ashenden’s blog
posting from yesterday.
He included it because he had uploaded a brief (approximately 4-minute) interview with a
British journalist stating why it was wrong that St Matthew’s and Luke’s Chruch in Darlington,
the Diocese of Durham in the UK, had offered to cover its altar cross and replica of this painting,
when it had decided to invite local Muslims to come in and worship in the sanctuary
following the end of Ramadan.
I touched on this same matter last week when the good Bishop was interviewed on Anglican Unscripted
regarding this rather bizarre gesture.
Isn’t that just like the Christian Chruch today???
A church wanting so desperately to appease and to appear inviting and hospitable by demonstrating
its all-inclusiveness, all the while, denying the very One who she claims as her Bridegroom.
A skewed thought process indeed.
For in its zeal of promoting the peace of one accord and good gestures,
the Church’s leadership’s ignorance shines forth.
I applaud the journalist, Nick Ferrari, for actually admitting at the interview’s end
that he had indeed been wrong when he felt that he should actually support the vicar of this parish
for opening the doors of her church to their Muslim neighbors.
To open a parish hall or to host an interfaith gathering in a neutral location is one thing,
but to offer up the Sanctuary, the place considered to be the most sacred within
a church, reminiscent of the Holies of Holy, by covering up the cross and images of Jesus,
is a venture into lunacy.
I dare say no Iman would allow any mosque to ever hide the Koran lest any Christians
We seem to have a great desire to rush in and show ourselves to be all-inclusive…
to show the world that we are open-minded and kind…
yet we do ourselves and our faith a great disservice when we do so
with little, if any regard, to the very teachings of Christ…
the very teachings we are expected to uphold.
Jesus never said to be unkind or inhospitable, but he also never said to hide one’s faith in Him or
pretend that, as the risen Savior, He isn’t intended for all mankind…
mankind includes Muslims, Jews, atheists, you name it…
He came into the world to save sinners…and that pretty much covers all of mankind.
It is, therefore, our responsibility to share that fact with all of those whose paths we cross.
We share hope and salvation to and for all…for anyone willing to accept and in turn follow.
We are told time and time again not to hide our faith or the Truth but to share it.
A light is not meant to be put under a basket, but rather upon a table permitting
all to see.
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
Be kind, be gracious but never deny your Lord before any man.
Never attempt to hide Him, mask Him or disguise Him…
but rather let the light of Redemption and Salvation shine forth.
In 2015 21 Coptic Christians were marched out on to a beach in Lebanon and were
offered the chance to be spared from the fate of beheading if they would simply deny Christ
and embrace Mohammad—-the answer was no.
Even unto death…
We are told, you and I who follow Christ, we are told to follow Him even unto death.
We know that death, in this life, is not everlasting…not for the followers of Christ.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
“The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will care for
you tomorrow and every day.
Either he will shield you from suffering or give you unfailing strength
to bear it.
Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.”
Francis de Sales
(a gardenia after the rain / Julie Cook / 2018)
A Reading from the 2nd Sunday following The Trinity
Mark 3:20-35 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered,
so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.
When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him,
for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said,
“He is possessed by Beelzebul!
By the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.”
So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables:
“How can Satan drive out Satan?
If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.
In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up.
Then he can plunder the strong man’s house.
Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter,
but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven;
they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”
Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived.
Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.
A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him,
“Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
“Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers!
Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
When I’m away, playing grandmother my time is, well, not my time…
and that is as so it should be…time, not, mine.
So returning home today, after being gone to and fro for the better part of the
last two weeks…
I played a bit of catch up with my favorite across the pond rouge Anglican Bishop…
The Rt Rev Gavin Ashenden.
I caught both an edition of Anglican Unscripted as well as the latest clip from a
homily offered for the 2nd Sunday after the Trinity…
a homily in which we hear of both the opposition of those who knew Jesus…those
who turned on him…as well as the message of casting out demons and an unpardonable sin.
First, we hear of how those who had known Jesus had accused him of being pretty much
out of his mind, having totally lost his senses…
meaning he must simply be either crazy or demonic, or both.
A bad or mad sort of scenario.
And do we not hear today that same echoed sentiment being hurled against the
“Those Christians are bad, mad and certainly evil in their thinking…”
Next, we hear Jesus explain that Satan cannot cast out himself…
So, therefore, how could Jesus, who is casting out demons, not be demonic himself?
He explains to the crowd that man is being held captive by a heavy-handed strongman,
a strongman who is of the world.
A strongman who, when all the confusion and bluster of this world is swept aside,
is exposed for who he is—Satan.
And thankfully for us, it is Jesus, who has come to cast out Satan.
To set us free, renew us and to ultimately heal us.
In both the homily, as well as the interview on Anglican Unscripted, the good bishop
touches on a single thought…
“There are two great enemies of Christianity…those being both Homosexuality and Islam”
In his interview on Anglican Unscripted, Bishop Ashenden shares the thought that we are
currently witnessing the Chruch being lost…
she has lost her way of knowing who is a friend or who is a foe.
This 21st century Christian Chruch has opted to embrace both of her enemies
while turning a blind eye to the illness these enemies possess.
Rather than sharing the importance of Jesus’ teaching about man and sin…
that being of the good news of forgiveness, hope, healing, and renewal…
the Chruch is now teaching her own ideas.
She is totally disregarding the critical ailment besieging man…the ailment of man’s
choosing to stand in direct opposition to God’s teaching and Word…
particularly with regard to the teaching of human sexual relationships.
And in turn, she, the Chruch now stands in opposition.
The Chruch of the 21st century is instead hoping to simply embrace both her enemies…
Opening her arms to embrace a religion that is also a political ideology of violence
and oppression..an ideology in direct opposition to Christianity–
while She, the Chruch, continues to totally ignore the fallen sinful nature of man
as she daringly decides to override God’s very own directive.
Some would loudly question why embracing the enemy would be wrong or a bad thing.
Are we not told to love those who hate us?
Why shouldn’t the Chruch, the embodiment of love and healing, not want to embrace?
Offering the demonstrative of her words?
But the problem in that thinking is that the Chruch has begun to lead and teach by her
own thoughts and actions over those of the spoken Word of God’s directive to man.
We should love yes, but we should not alter, change or rewrite His commands.
This is a precarious situation in that it is both dangerous and undermining as it’s base
is rooted in the ignorance of the embracing enemies..an action that
The Chruch obviously and so naively hopes will aid in simply making these enemies go away…
all after a good hug.
The Bishop notes that as far as Islam is concerned, contrary to what many Christians want to
believe, Islam is not the “symmetrical opposite of our Judaeo/ Chrisitan heritage
and belief system.”
With Isalm we know that it is either all or nothing, there is no picking or choosing.
The Quran is very specific…those who oppose the teachings of Islam are in turn the enemy
of Islam and all enemies, in turn, must be killed.
End of sentence.
There is no forgiveness nor is there any offer of hope of redemption and salvation as is
taught in Christianity, but rather those in opposition must die.
Plain and simple.
Bishop Ashenden keenly notes that whereas “a Chrisitan will die for his faith,
a Muslim, who abides by Sharia Law, will kill for his.”
So it is pure folly that recently a Cathedral,
a place that is the outward symbol of Apostolic teaching, in England opened it’s door to offer the
neighboring Muslims a meal following the fast of Ramadan.
(link to story provided below)
Harmless hospitality most folks responded but the Bishop asks,
how many Mosques opened their doors following
Lent and Easter, offering the Christians a meal of celebration?
Absolutely none…because to do so would have been to blaspheme Mohammad.
And no Muslim is to ever blaspheme Mohammad.
Because to blaspheme Mohammad is to be killed.
The Quran is that specific.
Never mind that the Chruch blasphemes the Word of God by embracing and teaching
that homosexuality is suddenly now sanctioned and even embraced by God.
Never mind that the Chruch capitulates and waffles with her appeasement of an ideology
that states its sole goal and focus is the total eradication of Christians and Jews…
as all must convert to the faith of Islam or die.
Plain and simple.
So now is the Church not therfore engaged in a dangerous dance?
In her keen desire to play culturally nice, appearing to be the place
of total acceptance and of all things feel good, she is actually turning
on herself while turning from the word of God.
For in her mad rush to embrace, accept and tolerate, the Chruch,
this bride of Christ, has forgotten that she places the one thing that she has been
entrusted with to always defend and uphold…that being the sole word of Jesus Christ.
“Sin is the distance between us and God”
Bishop Gavin Ashenden
(this poor cherub or putti’s feet have frozen off / Julie Cook / 2018)
I think I’ve used the above quote before…
However, it doesn’t seem any less important or any less relevant than say, the other day…
The other day when listening to Bishop Ashenden’s rather reflective homily,
as well as the latest installment of Anglican Unscripted,
the good Bishop was reflecting on having been asked in an interview
“what is sin?”
or it may have been more along the lines of “what is your understanding of sin?”
Either way, the Bishop was about to be taken to a very public task, or so thought the
interviewer of all things cultural…
The very secular interviewer, after asking the Bishop the question regarding his take on
what sin actually was, in turn, told the bishop that he did not feel at all “sinful”
and so the notion of what a sin was, was totally irrelevant to him and therefore obviously
anyone else who wasn’t feeling the least bit sinful.
Well, this is where the good Bishop clearly demonstrates that he knows his ‘stuff’…
He tells the interviewer that “coming to God is not something that one can do cerebrally
He then goes on to explain, as I shared in my post the other day, that there are actually
two types of sin—
there is the sin that the Christian recognizes—
that being the distance between himself and God.
And then that of secular sin which is anything that runs counter to the current culture’s
perception of the normative.
Bishop Ashenden goes on to note that all the recent hashtag business, the #metoo etc,
frenzy is, plain and simple, nothing more than secular sin.
The Bishop watched the Golden Globes, I did not.
He has some choice words for those who, draped in black, captured the stage in an attempt
to make a pitch to their “dewy-eyed acolytes.”
Bishop Ashenden explains that as our society has become besotted by sex,
it has become simply our very present focus.
For it surrounds us in almost every aspect of our daily lives—
through advertising, entertainment, books, music…it is an obsession.
An obsession, that many have gotten quite good at ignoring.
Society has created a secular apocalypse with women like Oprah Winfrey and Meryl Streep
rising to the occasion of rounding up the feminist troops while intimidating and
crushing any questioning, or opposition or competing intentions…
a frenetic feeding frenzy of destructive shaming.
There is no room for remorse, healing, redemption or hope.
Yet oddly there are years of images with both of these women in cozy photos with the likes
of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Clinton, and Roman Polansky…
women who had chosen to ignore truly bad boy and even illegal behavior.
And so we are now left wondering…
What is it now that makes things different from then…?
Is it now somewhat advantageous?
Has the time of championing feminism come into its own as it is now the popular
Is #metoo putting the ‘me’ in all of us dangerously closer at the center of our own universe
at the expense of common sense, grace and mercy?
Or is it simply the bravado of self-deception found in a society steeped in the notion of
its own sense of self-righteousness?
Found in its notion of the importance of the ‘we ourselves’…
Never mind answering to an authority greater than ourselves…for there is none…
because we are the demigods who have no need of anything or anyone greater.
The Bishop notes that in this secular societal self-righteousness, there lies a deeper problem.
And the thing is…none of the rallying cries or the saber rattling or the
rabble-rousing allows for or has room for the utter forgiveness and redemption
found only in Jesus Christ.
For found in the sinfulness of the secular, there is no way back for the sinner.
No hope for the fallen.
And no hope equates to immediate death.
A stark contrast to the mercy, forgiveness, redemption, and life found only in the hope
And thus he leaves us not with the damnation found in the current culture’s angst but
rather with the hopeful words of William Blake
“To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.
For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is God, our father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is Man, his child and care.
For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.
Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.
And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.”