31 May 2008


This is the lesson for Sunday. I usually pull from numerous resources online to create and localize these lessons. Sometimes material comes from Catholic sources & sometimes from protestant ones--so they need some adjusting to fit us in the Anglican Church. More often than not I can create a lesson that can be read to the kids. This one is not one of those. It is basically information to help the adults explain the Sacrament to kids. Also this lesson is not on an object per se, but this will likely never be a topic covered in Sunday School and it's a golden chance to talk about this because 1) It's Confirmation Sunday 2) our kids are younger than those going through catechism.


Our 1st Sacramental ceremony.

Since Baptism usually happens so early in a Christian's life, and since the Eucharist is a family/community Sacrament, Confirmation might be the very 1st ceremony that our kids go through that they can take personally.

Confirmation makes us a nation of priests because we all worship God as a holy nation, a chosen people, a royal priesthood. Confirmation is often described as ordination for lay people (non-clergy)! That is exactly right. We are all given the commission from the Bishop to take Christ and His Church as our very own, to serve Him just like we are ministers. The Bishop is involved in both Ordination and Confirmation. He places his hands upon each person that we might receive the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Because the Bishop is necessary for Confirmation, Western Christians developed the practice of catechizing their kids first, awaiting the next visit from the Bishop.

Confirmation is also the renewal and confession of our Baptismal vows. When we were Baptized as babies, parents and Godparents spoke the vows on our behalf. Confirmation allows us to make the vows in a Sacramental ceremony in the presence of our Bishop.


What do we do when invited to eat over at someone's home? In most cases there would be three steps: When the time comes (1) we take off our old clothes and wash up by taking a shower or bath. Then (2) we dry off and put on our good clothes. Finally (3) we go to the place where we have been invited and there we join with our friends to talk, eat, & celebrate.

Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist exist in a similar relationship: At Baptism (1) we take off the old, sinful person and wash away Original Sin. At Confirmation (2) we are anointed with the oil of the Holy Spirit and filled with His sevenfold gifts. Finally, (3) we are led to the Eucharistic banquet by Jesus our Host.


Have the kids role-play the three steps above [bath, dress, eat]. Encourage them afterward that when we are confirmed we are presenting ourselves to our Host with our best appearance [an act of faith]. There is plenty of material in the room to pretend through these three stages of the event [bath, dress, eat].

Next, have them pretend that they are in an ancient castle where the King is about to make someone a Knight. Have each one take turns receiving the honor of Knight-hood. [Adult may want to play the king to keep them from hitting one another—it happens!] This one might require a play-sword since the King usually pronounces the knight his status with the royal sword & with the knight-to-be on bended knee. This is a great analogy because Knights were the King's servants, ambassadors, and best warriors. When we go through confirmation we are accepting the challenge to serve King Jesus!

Children's Chapel

I've had the opportunity in my parish to develop object lessons for children. We use them during a sort of pull-out program called Children's Chapel. I want to share this week's to see if anyone likes it or otherwise dislikes it. If you comment, please do so on the lesson itself--not on the concept of the program of Children's Chapel. To help separate the two on this blog I'll make the Object Lesson another post from this one. First let me explain a little.
Our parish started this ministry last fall. We have adult volunteers take the children out of the Eucharist before the sermon (during the sermon hymn). We then guide them through an abbreviated liturgy with hymns and responses and prayers pulled straight out of the prayer book. We are not catechizing them, but then we are supporting that effort. We are not entertaining them, though the object lesson should be engaging for children. We are not teaching them another Sunday School lesson, though we are teaching them about our worship. So we try to stay away from playing without a purpose, teaching another Bible Story, or delving deeply into doctrine. It's a guided children's liturgy.
I like it for a few reasons. 1) It allows adults to volunteer for a worship related activity. 2) It allows the kids a momentary break but jumps directly back to a liturgy with guided instruction on a chosen aspect of the liturgy of the Church. 3) It allows visiting families the opportunity to experience formal worship without taking their own children in-and-out to calm them. I know what you may be thinking! But I clearly connect this to guests that don't know what to expect when visiting us. They may never come back if their own rowdy kids bother them the whole time...because our worship is quiet, ordered, and beautiful. Face it, people come from much different experiences and we could at least offer to transition them. 4) We are not trying to replace the family's role to train their kids to worship. This ministry is voluntary so different kids come on different weeks for vastly different reasons. But they always get the liturgy with some guided explanation 5) It allows kids a place to ask questions that they are dying to ask. 'Why do we do this?' 'What is that thing hanging over there?' 'Who is the man in that pretty window?' 6) For those who volunteer, it serves as a great incentive to do the same at home. It's okay to sit our kids down and have them listen to us read, pray, teach.
What do I not like about it? Well, there are only a few logistic changes I'd like to consider, but space doesn't allow for them-so we make do.

12 May 2008

God on the golf course

www.modernreformation.org has new articles on the 'new spirituality' that threatens the Church. Why should you take a look? Surely you've met folk that talk of communing with God while observing nature, listening to waterfalls, or simply driving a golf ball. What kind of communion...with what kind of god?
A few years ago I wrote a review of this article, in which Thomas clearly draws the connection from Gnosticism to Romanticism to our 'new spirituality'. What is Gnosticism, you may ask? Thomas' point is that you don't have to look at ancient writings to find it--it's alive and well today...too well. Basically it is the idea that knowledge of a secret truth [really private truth] is what we should look for in life. It teaches that the physical world is bad and that we should escape it to find our true selves at peace with the divine glob. My review expressed my frustration with his academic exercise that failed to alert the Church to the error lurking so close. The Church has dealt with this one many times. Today, though, they have big celebrities coming to their aid...cough...Oprah! Thomas went so far as to say that we should incorporate their thoughts into our discourse. That's where I jumped off the train.
So do you know people that claim to get in touch with the divine through private encounters with preferential [private] objects of worship? I sure do. These people generally disdain organized religion of any kind. Not only do they despise the Church & Christianity, but they abhor Catholic expressions like the Anglican, Orthodox and Roman Churches.
Our response should be to ramp up the confrontation only after we've endeared ourselves to them, showing them we are authentically committed to them. This will prevent us treating them as subhuman. They will make this hard for us to get across, pushing all our buttons & setting all our virtues on the grinding wheel. Their concerns about religion's abuses are understandable, but not insurmountable.
Our response should also be to embrace the Church all the more, committing ourselves to her life, well-being, and mission.

09 May 2008

This is Jeopardy!

This week the opening line could be..."This is Jesus!"

I have watched Jeopardy since I was very young. My wife knows that it's a life goal of mine to appear on Jeopardy. This week is the 1st of two weeks of College Championships.
I'm just shocked how many questions come from religion, Christianity, the Church, and the Bible.

One category was Get Your B.A. [answers alliterated by B. A.] & one answer was, "In John chapter 3 Jesus says that unless a man be B. A. he cannot see the kingdom of God" to which the question was...silence. Hmmm, I wonder if it's "what is BORN AGAIN!?"

My guess is they wanted to stump the college students since no one studies religion seriously anymore. Their answers support my assumption, unfortunately.

Unless we educate our younger generation about the faith, our Church is in, well, you know...

08 May 2008


This is worth a perusal
"We confess that we Evangelicals have betrayed our beliefs by our behavior. All too often we have trumpeted the gospel of Jesus, but we have replaced biblical truths with therapeutic techniques, worship with entertainment, discipleship with growth in human potential, church growth with business entrepreneurialism, concern for the church and for the local congregation with expressions of the faith that are churchless and little better than a vapid spirituality, meeting real needs with pandering to felt needs, and mission principles with marketing precepts. In the process we have become known for commercial, diluted, and feel-good gospels of health, wealth, human potential, and religious happy talk, each of which is indistinguishable from the passing fashions of the surrounding world.
...All too often we have prided ourselves on our orthodoxy, but grown our churches through methods and techniques as worldly as the worldliest of Christian adaptations to passing expressions of the spirit of the age.
...All too often we have traced our roots to powerful movements of spiritual revival and reformation, but we ourselves are often atheists unawares, secularists in practice who live in a world without windows to the supernatural, and often carry on our Christian lives in a manner that has little operational need for God.
...All too often we have been seduced by the shaping power of the modern world, exchanging a costly grace for convenience, switching from genuine community to an embrace of individualism, softening theological authority down to personal preference, and giving up a clear grasp of truth and an exclusive allegiance to Jesus for a mess of mix-and-match attitudes that are syncretism by another name.
...All too often we have abandoned our Lord’s concern for those in the shadows, the twilight, and the deep darkness of the world, and become cheerleaders for those in power and the naïve sycophants of the powerful and the rich.
...[earlier in the document] The liberal revisionist tendency was first seen in the eighteenth century and has become more pronounced today, reaching a climax in versions of the Christian faith that are characterized by such weaknesses as an exaggerated estimate of human capacities, a shallow view of evil, an inadequate view of truth, and a deficient view of God. In the end, they are sometimes no longer recognizably Christian. As this sorry capitulation occurs, such ―alternative gospels represent a series of severe losses that eventually seal their demise.
...In short, for all their purported sincerity and attempts to be relevant, extreme proponents of liberal revisionism run the risk of becoming what Søren Kierkegaard called ―kissing Judases-– Christians who betray Jesus with an interpretation.
...The fundamentalist tendency is more recent, and even closer to Evangelicalism, so much so that in the eyes of many, the two overlap. We celebrate those in the past for their worthy desire to be true to the fundamentals of faith, but Fundamentalism has become an overlay on the Christian faith and developed into an essentially modern reaction to the modern world. As a reaction to the modern world, it tends to romanticize the past, some now-lost moment in time, and to radicalize the present, with styles of reaction that are personally and publicly militant to the point where they are sub-Christian."

06 May 2008

"Do, or do not. There is no 'try.'"

The Vatican says that Anglicans must choose sides...protestant or Catholic. We usually call ourselves both!
"Does it [Anglican Church] belong more to the churches of the first millennium -Catholic and Orthodox - or does it belong more to the Protestant churches of the 16th century?"

If Rome is willing to live by those qualifications [1st Millennium vs. 16th century dogma] then we have something to talk about. I'm not trying to push an ultra-protestant agenda, but I'm being hopeful that Rome is willing to unify around the first Millennium of our common Faith.

"He [Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council of Christian Unity] said he hoped that the Lambeth conference, an event which brings the worldwide Anglican Communion together every 10 years, would be the deciding moment for Anglicanism."

Him don't know much about Lambeth, do he?

"Cardinal Kasper, who has been asked to speak at the Lambeth Conference by the Archbishop of Canterbury, said: "We hope that certain fundamental questions will be clarified at the conference so that dialog will be possible."

When said questions are not clarified, it is hoped that they will countenance the GAFCon structure. It will be a long, long summer.

Anglican Way Institute Conference

July 2008
Finding Grace through the Sacraments

Traditional Anglican Conference for young men and women.
Common Cause Partners, Reformed Episcopal Church, United Anglican Church, Anglican Mission in America, Anglican Province of America, Convocation of Anglicans in North America, Episcopal Missionary Church, Orthodox Anglican Church, The Anglican Church in America, The Diocese of the Holy Cross, FiFNA, ACiC, ACN, AAC, ANiC--you name the jurisdiction...this conference will appeal.