Christians often feel an obligation to pray for those who need assistance, both individually and corporately. Church congregations therefore regularly pray for members and extended family and friends who are struggling. Each church handles such prayers differently, but they usually involve some sort of prayer list.
The pastor of St. Boniface Church, Father Ba Thong Nguyen, also known as Father Martino, had a vision to bring all of the church's Faith Formation children and their parents along with members of the congregation to Veterans Park in Springfield on Sunday to pray for all of the souls who have given their lives for the nation.
By the time you read this, election day will have passed and, barring a runoff, the constant bombardment of negative campaigns will subside, at least for a year. I have come to believe that the fact that any person would spend someone's hard-earned dollars to do nothing but call their opponent a liar should immediately disqualify them from office. But that's just me, and I could be wrong.
Before the kids in their costumes head out the door to get bags full of candy, St. Luke's Episcopal Church has a special treat lined up for them.
In life, extremism often ends in a multitude of problems. I find the same is true when the Gospel is presented.
The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, "When Christ calls us, he bids us come and die." Bonhoeffer, citing the words of Jesus, bid Christians to count the cost of discipleship. For Bonhoeffer, this death was literal; for most other Christians we are called to die to our former selves.
The bizarre and horrible renditions notwithstanding (i.e., Roseanne Barr, Michael Bolton), most people can at least sing the national anthem. Or, I should say, they can sing what they believe is the national anthem. After all, most folks have been to enough civic events and ballgames to have memorized it.
I've got to wonder if Sherriff McDuffie, just as his head hits the pillow at night and he's about to drift off to sleep, ever reviews the events of the day and just busts out with laughter. It's got to happen on occasion.
Anyone familiar with Effingham County sports knows well the friendly but passionate rivalry between Effingham County High School and South Effingham High School in many sports. On grass fields, hardwood courts, clay diamonds, wrestling mats, dirt running trails, and asphalt courts the best of Effingham's teenage athletes battle for the title of county champs.
You've bet your life, and right now you are playing out your hand. In fact, with every day that passes you "up the ante," having invested another 24 hours in your wager. The problem is that the bet is for your spiritual and eternal life.
I have certainly heard the lament of Christian leaders who assert that we are living in a "post-Christian" era. That may be. But what I am seeing is more "Christian-phobia" than anything suggesting Christian beliefs, morals, and values are obsolete. The latest installment comes from Pennsylvania.
If you've been in Effingham more than a few decades, you've likely heard the refrain of long-time residents: "We gotta keep all those folks from Chatham from coming up here and messin' up our county." Crime and crowding are often key flashpoints in the conversation. On the other side are new residents who ask for a little grace, given the fact that they are paying taxes and increasing the property values of those long-time residents and landowners.
Even in a place as ordinary as Larry's Deli in Rincon can eternal truths be spoken.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Septimius Severus, Roman emperor from 193 to 211 AD, was a psychopath and sociopath. Citizens in his empire who had religious views different from his, particularly Christians and Jews, were persecuted severely during his reign. He made Nero and Domitian look like Girl Scouts, sane ones.
In the book of Acts, chapter 8, we find the account of St. Peter witnessing to an Ethiopian eunuch, baptizing him and presumably sending the faith back with this new Christian to Ethiopia. Regular church-goers know the story. We can also presume that this convert was the forerunner of the Ethiopian church, which we rarely hear much about, at least not until recently.
One of my favorite radio personalities is the late Paul Harvey, who died in 2009 after 65 years in broadcasting. To me, Harvey was exceptional at getting to the heart of any matter in his topical broadcasts, called "The Rest of the Story."
Sometimes we pastors are humbled by the wisdom we find in others. We think that we, having been schooled in scripture, have a monopoly on wisdom. And then we hear someone speak on life and truth from a deeply personal experience, and we realize we have no such monopoly and our pontificating may be lacking something. Here is an example of a true account that leaves me feeling humble.
NBC's advertising of the "Today" show's Monday morning segment on prayer caught my attention. While the promotions were run continually and ad nauseum, at least they signaled a possible shift by the usually highly secular show toward an acknowledgement, if not appreciation, of things spiritual.
St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Rincon recently held a service of institution for its chapter of Daughters of the King.
One of the questions pastors often encounter, whether directly or indirectly, is the dilemma of innocent suffering. That is, why do bad things happen to good people?
On Sunday evenings this spring, CNN is airing a new docudrama series entitled "Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, and Forgery." The series is based on the book of the same name by David Gibson and Michael McKinley.
Even if you haven't stepped in a church in years, you likely know the story of the "prodigal" son. Just in case, here's a quick refresher: A rather wealthy landowner has two sons. One asks for his inheritance early (before his father's death, which was an even greater insult when Jesus told this story than it is today). His father obliges him, and the son takes off to live a life of partying.
The parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-15) underscores the truth that God's love can be received by people extremely late in life. Many a pastor has seen death-bed conversions; they are possible and do sincerely occur.
We are fortunate to live in a county rich with churches offering different opportunities for people to worship. Yet, we must be humble and honest enough to realize that often people who walk through our front doors see very imperfect organizations, and unfortunately that can turn them off to the whole idea of organized religion and church.
The television series "House of Cards" is an American political drama based on a BBC miniseries of the same name. The opening of season 1 set the stage for what were we to witness as the background of the political sphere. In that episode, congressman Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey) kills a suffering dog with his bare hands while telling the television audience that sometimes we must "do the unpleasant thing, yet the necessary thing." And from then on out, the audience experiences the utter ruthlessness of politics as it is portrayed behind the scenes.
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