Monday, March 24, 2008
We MUST fight back, we MUST NOT roll over and play dead, we MUST NOT be the silent majority, or there will be none of us left. We MUST stand up for what we believe, both as Christians and Jews and as citizens of the United States of America...or there will be nothing left for either of those grandchildren Newt spoke of, or for yours and for mine.
Christ Is Risen. Celebrate this by standing up and being counted! By showing our Faith and our Patriotism.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Seder is also called the Passover Dinner, commemorating the protection of God as the Angel of Death passed over every family protected by the Blood of the Paschal Lamb.
Seder is Bible Study. It is in this family setting that Jewish children were first introduced to the Book of Exodus as the adults gained further insight. We refer to this kind of instruction as multimedia, as all five senses are involved to make this study an unforgettable event.
Seder is that famous Dinner called The Last Supper, hosted by Jesus for His disciples. It is probable, based on The Gospels, to assume that Jesus celebrated every Seder of His life in Jerusalem. Seder, as the setting for Jesus' Last Supper, was the event Jesus choose to announce The New Covenant. And it was at this Seder that Jesus asked all of us to do this in remembrance of Him. Many of us have done part of the Seder at our various Communion Services, but the entire ceremony will bring us a profound sense of meaning.
Seder is the Feast of Unleavened Bread mentioned twice in Luke's Acts of the Apostles (12:3 and 20:6). The days of Unleavened Bread were mentioned in connection with Peter in Jerusalem and Paul in Greece, and both citations are followed by great miracles. I think that it is safe to say that both Peter and Paul celebrated Seder and encouraged others, both Jews and Gentiles, to do this also.
Seder was the basis of the early Church's Lord's Day worship service. It was referred to as the Agape Feast and Eucharist. Agape is the Greek word for Christian Love, that Love we have for one another. Eucharist is a transliteration of the Greek word which means to give thanks to God, implying that Thanksgiving is an obligation for the works of God. Our early Church experienced miracles and miraculous movements of the Holy Spirit. Our Christian ancestors were united in One Love, One Christ, and One Mind as they grew from obscurity to a Worldwide Church. Church history records that The Agape Feast and The Eucharist were separated after 300 AD. After this was done, there were many attempts to outlaw The Agape Feast altogether. Five Church Councils between AD 320 and AD 816 that addressed this issue were never completely successful in eliminating the Agape. It continues to this day in the Greek Church as well as in some Protestant denominations.
The Seder dinner is as Christian as it is Jewish. It is the focal point where we bring together our common heritage. We, as Christians, are heirs of Abraham through Faith and children of God through Christ.
Seder is Christian and we can be confident that it will be a worthwhile experience because Jesus told us to do it. It is through understanding and partaking in the Seder that we will understand, more completely, that the early Church members were willing to die for their Faith and went on to conquer the world. You may order either A Guide to a Christian Seder or the order of service which is called A Christian Haggadah from this Web Site.
These are the basic elements for the leader: 1) a leader's copy of the Seder Haggadah; 2) a special linen napkin with a pocket to hold the afikomen; 3) a linen bag with three compartments for the matzot, here placed on a special silver matzah plate; 4) a cup of drinking water; 5) a bowl of water for the ceremonial hand washing; 6) a bowl of salt water; 7) a napkin or towel; 8) carafe of wine or grape juice; 9) the Seder plate; 10) a bowl of charoset; 11) four glasses, one for each of the cups (a single glass can be used); here Elijah's cup is slightly larger; 12) two candlesticks with white candles; 13) a bowl of grated horseradish; 14) a table with a place setting for Elijah (optional).
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Today, this "Second Sunday of the Passion," is the memorial of Christ's "triumphant," but misunderstood, entry into Jerusalem, the day that begins Holy Week. This entry into Jerusalem is seen as the prophetic fulfillment of Zacharias 9:9-10 :
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: BEHOLD THY KING will come to thee, the just and saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. And I will destroy the chariot out of Ephraim, and the horse out of Jerusalem, and the bow for war shall be broken: and he shall speak peace to the Gentiles, and his power shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers even to the end of the earth.
Before the Mass is the Blessing of the Palms, which includes an Antiphon, Psalms, and Gospel reading. Then comes the Procession with hymns, when we carry the palms either around the church or outside, weather permitting, and then the Mass, during which there is a very long reading sung in 3 parts by 3 deacons (or priest and deacons such as the case may be) -- a long recitation of the Passion, including Matthew 26:36-75 and Matthew 27:1-60. Prepare for a very long Mass!
Carrying palms (or olive or willow branches, etc., if palms aren't available) in procession goes way back into the Old Testament, where it was not only approved but commanded by God at the very foundation of the Old Testament religion. In the fall of the year, after the harvest, when the people gathered for the Feast of Tabernacles God said in Leviticus 23:40:
And you shall take to you on the first day the fruits of the fairest tree, and branches of palm trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook: And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God.
Again we read of palms in the II Machabees 10:6-8:
And they kept eight days with joy, after the manner of the feast of the tabernacles, remembering that not long before they had kept the feast of the tabernacles when they were in the mountains, and in dens like wild beasts. Therefore they now carried boughs and green branches and palms, for him that had given them good success in cleansing his place. And they ordained by a common statute, and decree, that all the nation of the Jews should keep those days every year.
And in the 7th chapter of the Revelation, we see that those who were "sealed" are seen by John carrying palms:
After this, I saw a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. And they cried with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God, who sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb.
The palms are blessed before the High Mass today. Vested in red cope and standing at the Epistle side of the Altar, the priest recites a short prayer, and then reads a lesson from the book of Exodus which tells of the children of Israel coming to Elim on their way to the Promised Land, where they found a fountain and seventy palm trees. It was at Elim that God sent them manna.
After a few verses from the New Testament, the priest reads the story of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem the Sunday before His death, and about how the people put palms in the Savior's path and sang hosannas because, ironically, they expected a temporal victory by the One they thought would be the great military leader who would conquer the Romans.
Then we pray, begging God that we may in the end go meet Christ, that we may enter with Him into the eternal Jerusalem. The following preface and prayers ask God to bless the palms, that they may be sanctified and may be a means of grace and divine protection to those who carry them and treasure them with faith.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
The situation in the Episcopal Church is very complex and not apt to be sorted out neatly and cleanly for some time. It is clear to those who are willing to look that the leadership of TEC has left the historic Christian faith in pursuit of a new religion, called Anglican, but with the contents changed. It sees Jesus as a religious figure, a way to find God, but not as Jesus himself put it, “…the Way, and the Truth and the Life…” The attack on historic Christian beliefs within TEC began with undermining confidence in Holy Scripture and challenging its authority as described, for example, in II Timothy 3:16. The second line of attack has been on Jesus—who he is and what he has done, including his sacrificial atonement itself. A third attack has been the spiritual version of the 1970’s book, I’m OK, You’re OK, by Thomas A. Harris. If we would believe the premise of the spiritual version of this, who are we to “judge” the wrongdoing of others and their breach of core doctrines of Christianity? If we are all OK then there is no sin (except continuing to reject this new progressivism). With no sin, there is no need for Atonement and no need for a Savior, for after all “I’m OK, You’re OK”. In order to arrive at this foolish and incorrect assessment it is necessary to “reinterpret” or “deconstruct” Holy Scripture, otherwise many verses in the Bible would create a problem, such as “For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
Within the “progressive” movement, which many of us usually call liberal or revisionist, the TEC leadership is intent on using every resource available to woo or coerce and to invite or threaten the remaining orthodox Episcopalians to fall into line. If you have a bishop who isn’t persecuting you at the moment, the natural tendency for many orthodox Episcopalians is to keep the head down, try and not be noticed, say your prayers and stay out of the line of fire. This is a formula for short term safety and long term annihilation. TEC is a train going somewhere you don’t want to go, and you don’t want to find out by staying on until the final stop. Spiritually, the cost of staying on to the final destination could cost you your faith, your relationship with God and everything else that is of primary importance. This earthly segment of our eternal life has eternal consequences, and I fear for and pray for those who are trapped for various reasons.
For some in TEC the immediate cost of realigning to an orthodox portion of global Anglicanism seems way too high. I visited a little church that had just enlarged their property; they had bought and paid for everything themselves. They had painted it, carpeted it, roofed it, and used it, and it was their home. The bishop of that diocese says it’s his, not theirs. If they want to leave, put the keys on the table and get out. They could do this and start over worshipping in a school perhaps, but for a very small congregation that also might break the congregation into such small pieces that nothing survives. In many of these cases the cost to defend law suits brought by the bishop and the national Episcopal Church are many times greater than the value of the property—to buy or sell it—and the small congregation simply doesn’t have the financial resources to fight. Some are walking away and starting over, some are leaving with the property and trying hard to finance the litigation brought against them, and many are caught and feel trapped.
In parishes throughout TEC, there are individuals who know that things aren’t right and can tell that the false teaching of TEC’s “progressives” are working their way into what is preached and taught, but the problem is where to go. Many small towns in America only have one Episcopal church. They can leave Anglicanism and go to a Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregational or other flavor mainline church, but the same problems in TEC are generally found there also. Some leave TEC and opt for evangelical churches. Others go to Roman Catholic Churches, and some go to the Eastern Orthodox. If there are enough people who are looking for an Anglican alternative, a small home church can be formed and led by a lay person or available Anglican clergy. Many people, however, are staying in TEC because they are older, more frail, and don’t have options they can readily turn to, and some are just staying home.
The intent of TEC to use its resources is far reaching. The Executive Council of TEC has approved using $500,000 of income from trust funds for litigation and harassment of the orthodox, and especially to be used against Bishop John-David Schofield, Bishop Robert Duncan and Bishop Jack Iker. At the same time they are preparing to try several orthodox bishops, and the clear message is fear and terror. If you try and leave they will still come after you. If you try and hold onto the property that is yours, they will sue you and keep you in court until your funds for defense run out.
With other sources of funds they are working the field, “visiting” primates and bishops who have a desperate need for funding for their ministries and handing them the keys to brand new Land Rover SUVs. They appear to be working with the Anglican Communion Office staff, Lambeth Palace staff and the Archbishop of Canterbury himself to strengthen TEC’s position and divide the conservative orthodox.
Within the conservative orthodox in the USA there are those who either have separated from TEC (often at significant cost) or are in the planning stage of doing so. Others are not quite there, but are evaluating their options about leaving. There are those, however, for whom the emotional and cultural and perhaps, some would argue, spiritual tie to Canterbury is so great that even though there is the equivalent of spiritual abuse coming from the father, the children are trying to decide whether it is better to leave and stop the abuse or to stay, maintain the relationship, and continue to be abused. Some orthodox in the USA and perhaps in the UK are struggling with this decision. A simple answer is to stay and put a stop to the abuse, but alas, that is what the Communion and specifically the Global South primates have been trying to do since the 1998 Lambeth Conference, and although significant progress has been made, the tide of battle has not been turned yet.
The realignment that is afoot in the United States and Canada is based on the most basic doctrines of Christianity, and compromise with heresy and apostasy is not an acceptable alternative. In other areas of the Communion the issues and the divide may not be as crystal clear as it is in the USA. This pernicious false gospel of theological revisionism and cultural adaptation is nevertheless spreading throughout global Anglicanism; Western European and Western hemisphere churches are heavily impacted. It is true, however, that exceptions do exist: the Anglican Communion Network in the USA, groups in Canada, and missionary outreaches of Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and the Province of the Southern Cone, and in these can be found the faith once delivered to the Saints.
The question remains, however, what of the many people who are orthodox and are still in TEC and the Church of England? How can the witness and work of the orthodox provinces change the Anglican Communion in such a way that real help comes to those who presently have no viable options? If we look at the tools available, the so-called Instruments of Unity are not uniformly helpful. The leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury has been concerned with holding together a badly damaged Communion rather than fixing the Communion. The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) receives more than a fourth of its funding from TEC, and Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori, as a member of the Primates Standing Committee, also sits on the ACC Standing Committee. Needless to say, the ACC on a good day is not helpful to reforming and refining the Communion, and on a bad day it works in concert with the aims of TEC. The third Instrument of Unity is the Primates, meeting together. Some good work has come from this body, but in each case the Archbishop of Canterbury has been able to summarize the issues, shape the remit to a body charged with doing something, massage the reports coming forth, and manipulate the way the Primates do or don’t address these as they meet together.
Unless the ABC repents of his direction and style and becomes more concerned about the deep issues of “who is Jesus” and what obedient moral discipleship means, there is little likelihood that the Anglican Communion can proceed in its established form. If the future is uncertain, some questions need to be asked before the day of crisis is fully upon us, and one of those questions is “What is the essence of Anglicanism/Anglican Christianity and what does it look like if Canterbury and England are not at the center?” As I ask the question, I myself don’t have the answer, but the time to begin asking the question has arrived, even as we beseech our Lord Jesus to honor and accomplish his prayer that all might be one.
Blessings and Peace in Christ Jesus,
The Rt. Rev. David Craig Anderson, Sr.
President, The American Anglican Council
Sunday, March 09, 2008
It didn't take me long to know that to showcase my blog, Sioux's Aubergine Pensées, I wanted to showcase my family and my art. My home. Remember, Robert Frost said, "Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in." And he was right to a large degree. As our family moves away and comes back, as Bill Cosby used to say, "and they bring little people with them", we love them and are thankful for them, and we take them in. Our home, our house, for our three girls and seven grandchildren, is primarily the real "home place" of our family. When my mother died, townspeople were surprised that we didn't move into her house and sell ours. Our explanation is, this is our family home, we can't move away from it!
This is the love of my life, Rafael Seibert.
My family is a major part of what I blog about, so I thought I'd show you guys a little of who we are. My name is Johnette Sue Ficke Seibert. Johnette after my daddy, John McBee Ficke. Here he is at age 16. He was a cowboy, son of a stock farmer in Wheeler County, Texas.
In the back row, left to right, are Silva (the baby), Marguerite (knows sometimes as Mutt), Ferroll, and Lois
In front are Leona (the oldest), Fay, and Bessie Mae (known as Jeff...as in Mutt and Jeff, or as Mert)
These eight siblings produced only eight children. They are all gone, and two of their children are gone. I am next to the oldest. There were three girl cousins, and five boy cousins.
The Christian name, John, goes backward to my great-grandfather, John Ficke, and forward to our oldest grandson, John Christian Banner. I hope it keeps on going. I love the name, the name of the disciple whom Christ loved.
Recently we visited two of my cousins, one just older and one just younger, when we took our grandson, Joey, to pick up a car. There is no "family home" per se for the Ficke family, so we visit in each other's homes. We don't see each other but a couple of times a year, but it feels right when we're together. As some of you know we were able, last fall, to find the ranch house my grandparents built to house their large family.
My grandfather was in immigrant from Germany, arriving in the USA in 1888. Here is a copy of his naturalization form.
He came to the United States at age 16, and on the ship's manifest he is noted as a grocer. Here he is a liquor dealer, a job which he held in New York City while learning some English, before he joined his brothers, Henry and John Henry (check out those names), to buy a Texas ranch.
My mother's family (Bowden and Routh) came to Texas in the mid 1800's, so they were here long before the Ficke family arrived...oh, and my grandmother Ficke, Harriett Elizabeth McBee, came from Braymer, Missouri, to visit a cousin in Wheeler, Texas. There she met and married my grandfather, who until that time had been living in a dugout on his ranch, but he really needed a house once he had a wife and eight children.
Here is a collage of me and my family as I was growing up in Stephenville, Texas.
And is some of my art that I want to get back to. Raf and I have been writing a mystery novel, and I have not drawn in a long while. I miss it, and I want to get back to it.
We have cats, as you can see from my avatar, and we have a warm, cozy life in our little Oak Cottage in the middle of the North Central Texas Hill Country.
I will leave you with a favorite family recipe called TACO TREAT. I happened upon this at a church covered dish supper in the late 1960's, and it's still a favorite today.
And here's to our home in Texas:
So, there in a nutshell is our life...a celebration of our life for the 2008 Blog Party. Raf and I have been retired for 4 years, we travel, read, enjoy the family, spend many happy hours at church, bird, hike, go on long drives, enjoy food and good restaurants, and are about as happy as two people can ever be. Welcome to our Blogging Home!
Friday, March 07, 2008
These photos were taken looking east from our blue room...where our tv and lap tops are located. The cats went out once each yesterday, except Gus who is far too old to be out in the snow. The birds were abundant and glorious. There were finches, of several kinds, woodpeckers, cardinals, titmice, chickadees, and several varieties of doves, with robins and blue jays. The raccoons invaded the outdoor cat's food, as well.
And we rested after a week and a half of too much rushing. It was a peaceful, quiet day.
A winter wonderland in Texas!