Sunday, 20 March 2016

St. Clement I (4th Pope, 92-100 AD, 8/10)

St. Clement's writings are important for affirming the early authority of Paul's epistles, the canonical Gospels, and the integrated application of Hebrew scripture to Christian thought. But Clement's writings are also beautifully written on their own merit and affirm Orthodox belief.

"Day and night declare to us a resurrection. The night sinks to sleep, and the day arises; the day [again] departs, and the night comes on. Let us behold the fruits [of the earth], how the sowing of grain takes place. The sower goes forth, and casts it into the ground; and the seed being thus scattered, though dry and naked when it fell upon the earth, is gradually dissolved. Then out of its dissolution the mighty power of the providence of the Lord raises it up again, and from one seed many arise and bring forth fruit."

-The First Epistle of Clement

Integrity: 4.5/5

Grace: 3.5/5 

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Saint Anacletus (3rd Pope, 76-92 AD, rating 7.5/10)

Very little is known about Saint Anacletus. He ordained 25 priests, and might have organized sections of Rome for each one. This might suggest to us that he was okay with certain elements of a having a church bureaucracy.

Speculative history suggests he might have been from a lower social order, and died a martyr.

Integrity 4/5

Grace 3.5/5

Total: 7.5/10

Friday, 18 March 2016

Saint Linus (The 2nd Pope, 64-76 AD, rating 7/10)

Saint Linus

While very little is known about Saint Linus, he appears to have been beloved by the Christian community. My modern bias makes me uncomfortable with him taking Saint Paul out of his own context and enforcing the edict that women cover their heads in church (1 Corinthians 11). Linus also furthered the institutional hierarchy of the church by appointing several bishops during his time. Linus was committed to God as martyr in 76 AD.

Integrity 4/5

Grace 3/5

Total Score: 7/10


Thursday, 17 March 2016

The Popes! (The 1st Pope, Saint Peter, rating 4/10)

As a fun way of examining the history of the church, I have decided to go through all the Popes of the Roman church and give them a rating as well as a brief explanation for the score given. I will start with Saint Peter and work my way up through Christian history until all 266 Popes have been covered. The rating system will be out of 10 with two subcategories accounting for five points each. The two subcategories will be generally called Integrity and Grace. While there is certainly overlap between the two categories, Integrity will be based on the individual's willingness to hold to the teachings of Jesus and the Bible (in whatever compilation it may be at the time of that Pope's reign.) Grace will be based on that individual's desire to show compassion and forgiveness. I will try to pump out a new Pope rating ever 1-7 days.

Saint Peter (1st Pope)

Integrity 2/5

Grace 2/5

Total Score: 4/10

While Peter appears to have a brief moment of revelation in declaring that Jesus is "The Messiah, the Son of the Living God" in Matthew 16, he shows a rather hot and violent temper in cutting off a soldier's ear (Matthew 26). While I would be willing to chalk that up to simply having a love for Jesus, he than betrays Jesus by denying him three times only a few chapters later.

Now, one of the joys of the Gospel is that in being given grace we are often more willing to show grace. That doesn't seem to happen with Peter. Whether they deserve it or not Peter has no sense of grace for Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, and is on the wrong side of the Gospel when he chooses to favour legalism over grace in his debate with Paul over the role of Circumcision (Acts 15).

One shouldn't mistake my critique of Peter for believing that Jesus was wrong to choose him however. I think Jesus chose Peter to be a leader of his church because the central point of Christianity is that we are fallen and need God's grace.


Sunday, 6 December 2015

True Humility is Hope in Emmanuel

Hatred, Ignorance, Nihilism, these are just some of the way we can describe the condition of our splintered and pluralistic North American society this holiday season. We live on the edge of these emotional extremes because it seems there is so much to be thankful for and yet so much to get angry about. If you choose to dive into injustice in both your society and the world it is easy to be become jaded. Is the only option to demand violent revolution or give up on the world entirely? If you choose to embrace the privilege of being born into a society with a powerful economy, the tendency can be to become ignorant to injustice and numb to the suffering all around you. Maybe you are relatively poor in this society filled with wealth and resources. Are you supposed to not give yourself the best chance for survival by shopping at cheap yet oppressive corporate stores?

I think the answer for us today lies in giving up our false pride and embracing the true meaning of humility. Not a humility where we feel too insufficient and insignificant to even care. Nor a pride where we put others in danger for the sake of our own ideology. Choose to watch the suffering, soak it in, understand it, weep for it, and help where you can. Don't ignore it and go back to your shopping because you fear losing your safety and wealth. Don't ignore it because you feel there is nothing you can do anyway. Don't selfishly declare you're too weak to help. But don't delude yourself into thinking you're Jesus Christ either. Help where you can and leave the rest up to God. Today's injustices will not be won through violent revolution, nor can they be ignored and distracted by our wealth and consumption. Our best option is a slow resolve. Love people in small steps and small ways, don't expect to save people, but help them anyway.

Don't expect to end religious violence, welcome refugees anyway
Don't expect to end all poverty, give generously anyway
Don't expect to reverse climate change, care for the planet anyway
Don't expect to end global capitalism, resist it anyway

Emmanuel is coming, place your Hope in him.  

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Syrian Style Christian Poetry

Some beautiful liturgical poems from my wife Deanna following the syllabic pattern of Saint Ephrem the Syrian: 

1st Sunday in Lent

You called us while we
       stood under the tree
reaching for the fruit
       under the fig’s shade
You say come and see -
       the prophets spoke true.

You are the one true vine!

Graft us to the branch
       let us bear good fruit
Give us eyes to see,
       You, the gardener.

2nd Sunday in lent

Healer, Redeemer,
       you heal all who come
We are lifted up
       through your forgiveness
Moses raised the bronze
       serpent to Israel

To you, all creation looks.

You stretch out your hands
       in your compassion
As you are raised up
       creation bows down

3rd Sunday in Lent

One from Jesse’s line,
       You have submitted
to be High Priest;
       brought low to raise up;
Your promise, a bow

       over creation.

Your mercy makes your cross light.

The shoot of Jesse
       takes root and redeems.
You have cleansed the earth,
       making fertile ground.

4th Sunday in Lent

The Lord’s healing hand
       is above all others
Through Him, creation
       hears and speaks His name
Chosen by the Lord,
       Abraham went out.

The Lord calls out and draws in.

We praise the Lord for
      His deliverance!
The land has borne fruit;
       Your promise fulfilled.

5th Sunday in Lent

The way has been made,
       the ram was given;
You hung on the tree
       in your compassion.
The curtain pulled back,
       to heaven itself.

Your grace reaches to the depths.

Your deliverance
       is our assurance.
Ransom for many,
       you clothe us in light.