The world says that we are either bad or mad…perhaps we are both

“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
Orthodox Christian?
“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?
Answer—
He can’t.

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.

“Celebrating Ramadan in Southwark Cathedral; mission, meals and infidelity”.

Heady times

“God is over all things,
under all things; outside all;
within but not enclosed; without but not exclude;
above but not raised up; below but not depressed;
wholly above, presiding;
wholly beneath, sustaining;
wholly within, filling”

Hildebert of Lavardin

DSCN0830 (1)
(Timoleague Friary, County Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

There had been a whirlwind of emotion
Exuberance road wildly as if on the back of a bronking bull…
Holding on for dear life…
Yet madly giddy within the rush and exhilaration of the ride.
Major changes raced across the winds…

Soaring endlessly upward, words and feelings rapidly flowed downward…
as if caught in a raging torrent…
There was so much that needed to be shared, expressed, re-lived.
Time was the enemy, this much we knew…
If put on hold or held back, it might all be too late…
or so we reasoned…

The depth of feeling was so raw yet so very real.
Clarity had been granted, but for how long was anyone’s guess.
There was a sense of power beyond self…
As if one was being guided and willed onward from some other different place and time.
This was bigger than all of us combined and it had to be shared…
It was truly a race between life and death…

All consuming is the best way to describe it.
Mad we were labeled…the activity deemed by the State…nefarious.
Hope and death mingled dangerously together…yet at the same time there existed a calm which surpassed understanding.
We had seen the results of being caught, accused, condemned….
Yet a resolute feeling of determination prevailed…we knew that all would be well…
With this feeling of hopefulness spurring on the momentum…
It was a heady time…

It was a time of grave danger with imminent death if discovered.
Yet there was no turning back…the die had been cast
Three years had laid the foundation, three days cemented our fate
A lifetime would be our legacy as thousands more would follow suit.

As it turned out, time would not be the deterrent…
We would weather the centuries of both denial and persecution…
We would work together across the oceans of the world, hand in hand…
allowing our words, our deeds, our actions to tell the story…
There were times when voices were silenced and many lives were lost…
But transformation had been found
Renewal had become a reality
Power was indeed found in the weak
The blind had seen and the lame had walked
As Salvation blanketed the land…

Yet now we wonder…
Where has the urgency gone?
Where has the importance of this story gone?
Has the truth been lost in complacency?
Where is the momentum…?
Do lives still not hang in the balance?
Is Hope not still viable…?

Miracles have not ceased…
Hearts are still turned…
Life has indeed conquered Death
Yet the headiness,
the acuteness,
the gravity…
seem all but lackluster…

The importance
The need
The urgency
are still very much necessary…
Yet those of us who have been left to further the cause, spread the word,
live the story…
have fallen into lethargy, compliance with the world and sadly indifference…

May we once again find the strength, the need, the urgency to continue to fight the good fight…
For it is Time who is no longer on our side….or so we have been warned.
The winds have shifted, the signs are real and the headiness of exuberance, need and necessity is all but waiting…for our time has come….
are we still willing to be the voice behind the story….
If not us, then who….


Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—
his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-9

I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
1 Corinthians 4:14-17

The rallying cry of St Crispin

“Be Not Afraid! Open up, no; swing wide the gates to Christ. Open up to his saving power the confines of the State, open up economic and political systems, the vast empires of culture, civilization and development… Be not afraid!”
Pope John Paul II / taken from his address to the world following his election as pope 1978)

“They themselves do not see the world of light as we do, but our shapes cast shadows in their minds, which only the noon sun destroys.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

Bossche_Saints_Crispin_and_Crispinian_(detail)_14
(detail of the Martyrdom of Crispin and Crispinian /Aert van den Bossche / 1494

“Oh no, don’t come up. . .there’s danger out there. . .”
This always being the response from my Dad when I tell him I’m coming up for a visit.
I live an hour away from Atlanta, from where I grew up, but one would think after hearing Dad, I was traversing a long harrowing journey over enemy territory and dangerous minefields.
“There’s danger on the roads and Atlanta is a war zone. . .”
“Dad,I don’t think I’d call Atlanta a war zone. Not to worry, I’ll be careful and I’ll be fine.”

Now granted I’m no fan of driving along the Atlanta interstates, as not a day passes without some sort of catastrophic accident or wreck, but I’ve yet to notice that the moment I pass into the jurisdiction of the city I come under the hail of gunfire–thank goodness. . .

My 86 year old dad stays glued to the news and the news does have a way of painting life in Atlanta, or any large global city for that matter, as violent, dangerous and grim.
Locally there are robberies, shootings, killings, rapes, drug dealings, kidnappings and globally there is the grim visions of terrorism, all of which seems to greet any and all tuning in for the latest local and world update. You should have heard his response to my throwing out there the possibility of an adventure across the proverbial pond later in the year. . .there was great wailing and gnashing of teeth.
“Oh my gosh, noooo. . .can’t you just stay at home?!
Why do you have to insist on traveling.
It’s simply too dangerous to fly.
Planes crash.
Don’t you know that terrorists are out there waiting!!???
It’s all so dangerous. . .just stay home. . .watch things on television . . .keep your head down”
This litany of the warnings of safety is usually said as he tucks his own head down between his shoulders as if we were hunkered down in a bunker in some long forgotten war zone as the enemy begun a round of shelling overhead.
Ugh.

So perhaps it shouldn’t come as any surprise that I have my own deeply rooted, irrational sense of fear, dread and foreboding, all of which raise their ugly heads from time to time–as all of this is come by rather honestly having been raised by a “henny penny the sky is falling” doomsday’s calling, overtly cautious, dread filled dad whose own sense of irrationality sadly has had a tendency of rubbing off.

I can remember when my son was born 26 years ago, of which sometimes feels like only yesterday. He came in to this world with an ulcerated esophagus. How and why he had this issue, I never gleaned— It wasn’t until he was 5 weeks old that we knew something terribly wrong was unfolding. He was prone to throwing up any and all sustenance that would go in and hopefully down. So much so that when he’d throw up, there would often times be blood. And any baby who throws up everything that goes in, does not tend to thrive, let alone gain weight, as he hung around the lower end of the growth charts.

In those early worried filled and sleep deprived days, I would wander back to bed in the wee hours after having unsuccessfully attempted to feed only to then spend forever cleaning up redelivered formula— exhausted, worried and delusional. In the place in between waking and sleep I would find my mind racing to dread filled visions of our new son and his precarious health. . .Of which in turn caused me great worry, dread and angst over a possible prognosis as my subconscious played out dire dreams.

Three months in, a litany of meds and finally one revealing endoscopy later, it was determined that he would need a specially formulated, and none too easily procured formula, thickened with powdered oatmeal. I often wonder if this was not the begining of his often eclectic and expensive tastes. . .

I was a wreck early on in motherhood as I constantly feared the worst. I think this was in part due to the fact that my dad and I had, 3 years earlier, watched my mom wage a fatal, albeit brief, battle with lung cancer. An incident that seemed to cement in him, as it also sucked me in, to if bad or worse can happen—then so it shall. . .

Any ache or ailment and my dad will have you good and ready for the undertaker. A cold will be Typhoid and God forbid you have a fever or cough–Consumption for sure. Your time drawing nigh.

This Eeyoreesque, the glass is always half empty approach to life of my dad has always driven me nuts. I, from all outward appearances, possess the demeanor of the perpetual positive.
No Pollyanna mind you, but positive nonetheless. As all the while the negative beats of the gloom and doom drums reverberate within my own head- —this as I cheer on any and all in need of predicted success and glorious hopeful outcomes.

All of this thought of fearfulness comes to mind as I find myself sadly being taken in by the frighteningly real warnings and calls for vigilance in light of the latest terror warnings regarding attacks on shopping centers in the US, the UK as well as Canada. Only as the world slowly regains some semblance of composure following the Charlie Hebdo attack as well as the attacks to Jewish sites of interests in Paris and throughout France as well as sadly in Denmark.

If it’s not due to the prospect that we will all eventually come down with some form of dreaded cancer, ebola, superbug or disease, we then will in turn fall victim no doubt to some crazed group of Islamic terrorists vowing to destroy any and all who stand in their way toward perceived world domination. Certainly not the most positive prospects greeting anyone turning into the nightly news or staring mindlessly into a daily newspaper.

I am, however, happily reminded and bolstered by the thoughts of those individuals who have gone before us in their own time of bleak outlooks, warnings and turmoil who, although they may have been afraid, as they stood before a massively numbered and heavily armed foe, as they set their jaw while squaring their shoulders, marching forward just the same.

And on those days I find myself feeling fearful and downtrodden, as I look out across the world’s perilous horizon, I recall the moving speech and rallying cry offered by King Henry V at the onset of the Battle of Agincourt, also known as the speech of the Battle of St Crispin’s Day.

Saints Crispin and Crispinian were 3rd century twin Roman brothers who were cobblers by trade and followers of Christ by devoted choice. Fleeing persecution in Rome, traveling northward, repairing shoes and preaching their faith, they were eventually martyred for their faith by the Gauls. Their feast day falls on October 25th. It was on this fateful feast day in 1451 that Henry V led his poorly outnumbered rag tag troops into battle against a heavily fortified French Army.
Miraculously Henry V and his men were the victors on this particular St Crispin’s day. . .

Now I’m not saying that I advocate fighting, taking to arms, wars or marching off willy nilly into any sort of battle, but I do find that at times I need a rallying cry.
I need to be reminded that, as some days it is indeed a life of battles and the enemy does most often appear so much larger than I. . .that I need to be reminded and prodded that I have been given my marching orders. . .
That I am to, as Pope John Paul II so boldly proclaimed. . .BE NOT AFRAID!!

The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1

WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING. What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Henry V St Crispin Speech, William Shakespeare