saints and sinners

Lives of the saints are valuable not only for the virtue they reveal but also
for the less admirable qualities that also appear.
Holiness is a gift of God to us as human beings.
Life is a process.
We respond to God’s gift, but sometimes with a lot of zigzagging.
If Cyril had been more patient and diplomatic,
the Nestorian church might not have risen and maintained power so long.
But even saints must grow out of immaturity, narrowness, and selfishness.
It is because they—and we—do grow, that we are truly saints,
persons who live the life of God.

(Franciscan Media)


(icon of St Cyril of Alexandria)

I will readily admit that there are many folks out there who ardently dismiss the notion
of saints, sainthood and what all that sort of thinking entails…
With the dismissal of thought coming from both sides of the aisle…the aisle of
Believers and non-believers alike.

Non-believers just love hitting up Believers with arguments around the whole concept of
saints and sainthood…

As in who merits being let into the special club of sainthood and who doesn’t?
Who sets the determining standards and factors?
Who gets the right to say yay or nay?
Can you de-saint someone if you determine they were more screwup than up and up?
With the kicker remark being…” and so, these saints of yours, are they suppose to have
some sort of superpowers which makes them saint worthy?”

And if anyone really studies much history then the actions of many of these so-called
“saints” comes flying into question.
As in…was this person more rouge or saint or both?

We go through life hearing phrases about living a saintly or Godly life.
We hear stories of those selfless good deeds matched often with some sort of
other-worldly gifts.

There are even various denominations which are more prone to recognize the lives of saints…
those being mainly both the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox faiths…along with
Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Anglicans…
Denominations that have long been looked at sideways for this saint fascination of theirs.

Yet there are many a Protestant who will refer to Peter and Paul,
as well as a handful of others, as “Saints”

And remember… many a denomination recognizes All Saints Day on the Christian calendar.

But this isn’t a post about whether or not Saints are real or not.
Meaning the person may have been real, but should they be classified in a particular
category of Godliness?

It’s not a post about miracles or the lack thereof.
It’s not a post about virtue or perfection.
And it’s not a post about what is or what isn’t the proper Chrisitan doctrine regarding
this whole to be or not to be saint business.

Far from it.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are well known “saints” and not so well known saints.
There are saints who are recognized by both the Latin West (think Catholic) and Eastern Orthodox
faiths… while some saints are not recognized hardly at all.

There are even saints which all denominations will claim while others are claimed by
a mere handful.

All of which can make this saint business even more confusing for a Believer…and let’s
not even go over to the nonbelieving side as there is simply not enough time nor energy…

Suffice it in knowing that things can be fuzzy at best when trying to figure out
who is whom and what is what.

Yesterday I caught a posting on “the saint of the day” by the Felician Sisters CSSF blog
that gave me considerable pause to ponder…
https://cssfinternational.wordpress.com

Being a lover of history and always fascinated by those who blazed the various trails of
long ago…
those scoundrels, scallywags, and glorified who each fought the good fight while
affording all of us more or less today the freedom to worship, or not, as we please…
I was most interested in learning about this early 4th century Patriarch of Alexandria
who was later known as “Saint and Doctor of the Chruch.”

However, we should note that it wasn’t until many centuries later that Cyril actually
made the cut in both the Latin West and Eastern branches of faith…
becoming recognized by the Chruch as a saint and Doctor of the faith in 1882.

I will confess that St Cyril of Alexandria, despite his deep roots in the early Church,
was not top on my radar.

And so it wasn’t so much his teachings, his biography, his fight against heresy or even his
rush to those knee-jerk responses to that said heresy of which has left some of his actions
somewhat questionable–actions and teachings best sorted out by historians…
rather it was what the Franciscan media noted in regard to Cyril and that of his slightly
off-putting and less than saintly ways, that made the greatest impression on my reading
of the day.

The idea that both Holiness is a gift from God and that life is a process.
And that it is our response to the gift, of which comes with a great deal of “zig-zagging,”
is what this is all really about.

Hindsight, time and clarity so often provides those of us more modern-day folks
with a better vision as to what once was…
But with that hindsight, time and clarity comes a certain level of smugness and arrogance.
A smugness and arrogance that falsely allows us to think we are better than,
smarter than and wiser than those who trod before us…and in that lies a danger.

A danger in thinking that we need no longer grow.
A false sense that we are above our own immaturity and flaws.
And in turn, we become narrow in our thinking.

May Cryil, along with the host of sinners now saints,
those who have all gone before us having seen the glory of both mercy and grace,
continue to teach us that God can take that which seems hopeless, broken and
lost and turn it all around…
as in a sinner to a saint…

And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders
fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense,
which are the prayers of the saints.

Revelation 5:8

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-cyril-of-alexandria/

atheists ain’t got no songs…..

Do not be afraid.
Do not be satisfied with mediocrity.
Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

John Paul II


(Steve Martin appearing on David Lettermen singing Atheists ain’t got no song / 2011)

When I scanned my emails and saw that I had a notice of a new posting
from a blog I follow, I opted to investigate a bit further—

I realized there was actually a videoclip in the posting that was sitting at
roughly 42 minutes…
I wasn’t really certain I wanted to be contained for almost three quarters of an hour watching a videoclip in the middle of the day.

There were things to do.

How could I justify sitting at the kitchen table watching a video clip for nearly 45 minutes….what about the cleaning, the wash, the filing, the bills, the shrimp…
the shrimp that needed deveining for this evening’s supper….???

I am a person who isn’t one to sit around.
I am a doer and constantly moving about…as something always needs tending to.
Sitting in the middle of the day, listening and watching a videoclip is a little
hard for me to justify

45 minutes, really??!!

Yet I was curious.
And I also do quote this man all the time.

I am constantly offering this man’s teachings, his preachings, his defenses,
his proclamations…to you…and so do I not owe it to you to really
know a bit more about him????

Of course I do.
If one wants to be truly credible, one must invest time and understanding
before sharing.

Yet I’m not Scottish…well that is… not me exactly but in heritage, yes.
I’m certainly not a Presbyterian nor am I an Evangelical…
I’m still an Episcopalian by name…but just one who happens to no longer
agree with the direction of the Episcopal Church.

What I am is a conservative Christian who believes in the importance of
spreading the word about God, Jesus, sin, death, life and salvation….

So perhaps I needed to invest the time.
Something was nagging at me to give it a look.

I clicked on the video and after about 2 minutes in, I stopped it.
I knew I needed a pen and paper as there was much to be writing down.

David Robertson, the Reformed Presbyterian Minister who heads St. Peter’s Church
in Dundee, Scotland had posted his latest blog post in which he was offering
a videoclip from address given in 2010 for the Christian organization that he
is apart of, SOLAS.
And despite the videoclip being nearly 8 years old,
David had stated that if one really wanted to understand what he was about,
this was probably the best explanation.

The Christian group there in Dundee named SOLAS—was something I really had no idea
about or what it was, I just knew it was something he had his hand in…
but now know—
Solas is a Gaelic word meaning Light—and that Light is the Light of Jesus Christ….

If you visit my world here often, you hear much reference to David.
I found him via this little blog world of ours.
And when I read the things he was writing on his Wee Flea blog, I found myself
most often in total agreement, not all the time mind you, but most of the time as
I’d find myself nodding and offering a silent “Amen”

And as I don’t always agree with everything…
I’ve yet to meet a Christian who is usually 100% with another Christian—
heck most folks find something to disagree over with their own priests, pastors or minister. I don’t know any Christians who totally agree with
each and everyone’s doctrines or denominational background…but at the end of the day
if the bottom line is Jesus Christ for each of us then that is truly our common ground.

Doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic or Baptist, Pentecostal or Greek Orthodox…
if Jesus Christ…His birth, his life, his ministry, his death, his resurrection
is the chief cornerstone in your life—then we are all on the same page.

I had not read any of David’s books.
I hadn’t even heard of him before…but it seems he was pretty famous for
having debated and besting the avowed Atheist Richard Dawkins.

He even went on to write a book that acted as a Christian follow-up to
Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion.

So today’s videoclip, which I’ve attached below was indeed enlightening.

It made me think of Wally’s little meme and comment yesterday which was
“If somebody took a poll of 10 of your acquaintances and asked them the most
notable thing about you, how many of them would say:
“Oh they really love Jesus!?”

(https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com)

This really made me think.
I told Wally I’d probably get “good wife, good mom, good cook,
good teacher’…..but would anyone start with the fact that I do love Jesus,
proclaim Him as my Salvation…have I simply done that more inwardly and
just for self….??
I wasn’t sure I could answer that “thought” and even told Wally I
had been given much to ponder.

I will spend some time over the next couple of days focusing in on some of the key
thoughts I took away from watching David’s video.

He did offer something rather hilarious and that was a mention of Steve Martin singing
the song Atheists ain’t got no songs.
He said if you’d not heard it or seen it, google
it, it was worth the look….and it was!

It was a clip from a David Lettermen show and in true Steve Martin form,
it is hysterical while ringing of so much truth…

I don’t know about Steve Martin’s religious beliefs but I think he leans
toward agnosticism….but no matter, as I thoroughly enjoyed the song…
I think you will too

Plus—do yourself a favor, carve out the roughly 42 minutes to listen to David’s
address.

It matters not that his focus is the Church there in Scotland.
Scotland has a rich Christian history—and was once the loudest Evangelistic voices
in most of the world…but then something happened…just as it is happening here
in the US.

It matters not that you may be Lutheran, Anglican, Southern Baptist, Methodist,
etc…the message is the same.

And I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again…it was a quote from the
former Anglican Bishop Gavin Ashenden,
“It is the secular culture that is attracting many believers”—as more and more
people leave the Church, preferring the worship at the altar of the worldly….

There was a time when my mom, God rest her soul…my quiet, shy and very Episcopalian
mom would have warned me not to be talking about such…I wouldn’t want folks to think
I was some sort of nut, religious fanatic or “Jesus freak” or God forbid,
part of a cult…
but I would have to now say to mother, what better time then now Mom?
What better time than now….?

Give me Scotland or I die

A world on the move and the Sermon on the Mount

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

DSC02570
(a variety of lichen found in the woods / Julie Cook / 2015)

This morning while reading my daily devotional, I was struck by an
interesting question concerning the Sermon on the Mount raised by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1940

Because the individual is always the one placed in the responsibility, the old question–whether the Sermon on the Mount (Matt.5-7) applies to the individual as individual but not to the individual who is responsible for others—is falsely stated. The Sermon on the Mount itself makes people responsible for others and knows no individual only as an individual. It is not satisfied, however, with preparing individuals for their duty in the community; it also lays claim to individuals in their responsible activity itself. It calls them to love that proves itself in acting responsibly toward the neighbor, to love whose origin is the love of God that encloses in itself the whole of reality. Just as there is no limiting the love of God for the world, so also the human love that springs from God’s love is not limited to certain areas and relationships of life. Either the Sermon on the Mount is to be regarded as the word of the world-reconciling love of God everywhere and at all times, or is does not seriously concern us at all. . .The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is the most compelling proof that God’s love is at all times equally close and equally distant. Jesus died because God loved the whole world. And in this same love—sealed by the cross of Jesus–we are called into the whole world.

As I finished my reading and prayer reflections, I was left with a bit of nagging clarity coupled by some continued questions. This whole concept of who exactly Jesus was addressing in the Sermon of the Mount as well as what I, the individual, was to take away from His instruction, remained in the forefront of my thoughts for most of the morning.

I began pondering the concept of responsibility verses merely being a receptor. . .of my being on the receiving end of Jesus’s words, what with His list explaining who was to be what and why– or–the thought that there is actually to be some sort of prior action on my part which was actually the gist that I was to take away from what He said–That it’s to actually be a “go forth and do” sort of command verses just a nice little reflection of how things are after the fact.

Reading over the day’s latest news stories I stumbled upon this picture of an ominous map attached to a story posted on the BBC regarding the current global migration crisis. I clicked to read the article and was met with a very sobering reality of this now constant global bleeding

_83286968_big_arrows_world_map_labels2
(image courtesy BBC)

This next chart notes where international migrants now live:

_83284011_2_top_10_host-_nations01

The article, which is just one in a growing litany of articles sounding the warning alarms of a world on the move— with the reasons being not by happy choice.
There is a global crisis that is demanding action to be taken by us all–Europe is almost stretched to its breaking point, and according to other graphs accompanying the article we see that the US is a top end destination for so many of these refugees.
The nagging question remains. . .how are we to apply the Sermon of the Mount to this latest world trouble. . .and what, as Christians, is to be our responsibility?

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-32912867