December 7, 2019: Pearl Harbor Survivor: What I Saw Aboard the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941

Wow. Just wow.

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President Roosevelt was right to call it “a date that will live in infamy.” But for my fellow survivors and me, it also is alive in memory, like shrapnel left embedded in our brains because the surgeon thought it too dangerous to operate.

Those images remain with us survivors seventy-five years later. Sometimes they intrude into our day, a moment spontaneously combusting, and suddenly we are back in the flames that engulfed our ship or in the oil-slick waters that surrounded it.

Sometimes they come to us in the night, a haunt of images that troubles our sleep. Or perhaps the phone rings, and we flinch. Or a car backfires, and instinctively we duck.

These memories lie within me, forever still and silent, like the men entombed in the Arizona. Others, like the oil that seeps from its wreckage, slip around inside me until they find a way out and make their way to the surface, where they pool and sometimes catch fire.

Over the years, many of us made the pilgrimage back to that harbor, where we have experienced both the soothing of those wounds, and, at the same time, a reopening of them.

Have some been healed? Yes. Year by merciful year. But all? No. And that is true for so many who have survived trauma, not just those who have survived the horror of war.

Read it all and buy the book.

2019: Remember, Remember the 7th of December

Today is the 78th anniversary of the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor (is that possible???) that drew the United States into the great conflagration known as World War II. Ask anyone who was living that day and they can tell you exactly where they were. It was an act of treachery and it proved to be foolishly short-sighted and ultimately fatal for the Japanese militarists. It was that generation’s 9/11.

Sadly the generation of Pearl Harbor is rapidly fading away. But its lessons remain and remind us that we must constantly be on guard as a nation because there are those out there who hate us and want to destroy us and end our way of life.

From the History Channel:

At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appears out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious assault. The surprise attack struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and drew the United States irrevocably into World War II.

Read it all.

Father Philip Sang: Living in Light and Hope of the Kingdom of Heaven

Sermon delivered on Advent Sunday A, December 1, 2019 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

It’s Advent. Father Sang hates wearing purple and gets really cranky about it, Even so, he surprisingly offers up the written text of today’s sermon. Click here to listen to the audio podcast.

Lectionary texts: Isaiah 2.1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13.11-14; Matthew 24.36-44.

Advent is a season of expectation and preparation, as the church prepares to celebrate the coming (adventus) of christ in his incarnation, and also looks ahead to his final advent as judge at the end of time. The readings and liturgies not only direct us towards Christ’s birth, they also challenge the modern reluctance to confront the theme of divine judgement.

The four last things – Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell – have been traditional themes for advent meditation. The characteristic note of advent is therefore expectation rather than penitence, although the character of the season is easily colored by an analogy with Lent. the anticipation of Christmas under commercial pressure has also made it harder to sustain the appropriate sense of alert watchfulness.

Many people have spent some time in the past few days decorating for the holidays, for me, one of the best things about the holiday season is enjoying decorations. I am excited to enjoy them. Specifically, I love Christmas lights. Whether on a tree, candles in a window, or in the lawn, it is beautiful to see those twinkling lights. When I was in Johnson City, TN, I was close to Bristol Motor speedway and they use to have it covered in different Christmas light scenes during this season and I use to drive there just to enjoy the lights and Christmas music playing. There’s something magical about lights. There is something quite peaceful and reassuring about those little lights nestled among the branches that brings a sense of calm to the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

The preparations remind us that the season of Advent has begun, the start of a new church year, and help draw us in to the awe and wonder of preparing for Christmas. During the next four weeks, we’ll hear a lot about light. Our worship will begin with the lighting of candles, a reminder of the light of the world that is to come. They help us build our anticipation, adding one flickering flame each week, as we eagerly wait to celebrate the birth of our Savior, lighting the way to the manger and leading us to Christmas Eve when we will sing Silent Night with our own candles flickering. But we aren’t there just yet. In fact, we have a ways to go first. Advent, is our journey to get there.

We begin Advent with the words of the prophet Isaiah, who invites us on the journey saying “come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!”

The writings in Isaiah are among the most dazzling and complex in all of our Scriptures, speaking to a complicated community. In the opening chapters, the people are on the brink of the Syro-Ephraimitic war, as the northern kingdom of Israel and the Aramaean kingdom of Damascus tried to force Judah into an unwise alliance in opposition to the Assyrian Empire. When these foes finally laid siege to Jerusalem, King Ahaz turned to the prophet Isaiah for advice and assurance.

Isaiah is known as the “poet of light,” offering powerful imagery of light and life even as he condemns the current priorities of God’s people. In these and other images, the prophet offers a vision of a new heaven and a new earth, prompting the people of God to look ahead to the future and imagine a world in which God, not them, is center-stage. The people in Jerusalem will experience one challenge after another, often brought upon themselves because of pride and arrogance that puts distance between them and God. And yet, this vexing city is an integral part of God’s plan and purpose for the world, so the prophet speaks repeated words of hope and promise in the midst of struggle.

In our reading today, one of his first images features people of all nations coming to the mountain of God and joining together. This means the people of Israel and others – a radically inclusive group that would have been virtually impossible to imagine. A critical part of this interaction is that they come as students, sitting together to learn from the Almighty and seeking wisdom and council for where to go next. The prophet’s vision is not accidental – he wants to remind the people of Israel that their help and guide comes not from their own devices, but from God, and more specifically, from the Torah. All the students, it seems, are on a level playing field and have something to learn. It is the Word of God which will be their guide and open them to new possibilities. Isaiah’s vision is of a community that comes together to discover that path.

This, I think, is a vision many of us can get behind. Like the people of Isaiah’s day, we too are people of God who long for such an image of peace and harmony. We read this text on the first Sunday of Advent as a reminder of hope and aching expectation for the world. Advent is a chance to imagine the world not as it is, but as it should be, and Isaiah paints a beautiful picture for us. The second image gets even better. The very things that separate and divide – weapons- are no more. This is significant. They are not just laid aside. They are transformed into useful tools for growth in a way that only God can do. One commentary notes:

It is not enough to end spears and swords as an act of romance or of goodwill. There must at the same time be production of instruments of life, such as plowshares and pruning hooks. Thus human energies and public resources are reassigned to vine dressing and agriculture. The economy is transformed; the earth is also transformed, from battleground to fertile garden.

Advent doesn’t just hope for an end to the challenges in the world. It proclaims a hope that God will bring about new life; the kind of life that comes in a newborn baby in a manger, and leads to all of creation being restored to right relationship with God. The birth of a Savior.

But Advent isn’t just about that sweet little baby in the manger who was promised long ago. There is another arrival at play for us as Christians – the second coming of Christ. In Advent, we recognize that we are living between Advents, or comings, and are called to embrace the expectation for the time when Christ will indeed return to earth and fulfill in their entirety those promises proclaimed by Isaiah. One of them being the kingdom of Heaven. Our Epistle reading from Romans highlights the hope of the promise of this second Advent.

Paul calls the early church to look to that day with the same kind of eagerness that the people of Israel had for the hope of a promised Messiah. There is an urgency born of this hope that reminds us Advent is more than just a simple time of waiting to open presents under the tree and sing; Advent is a time of action. Paul puts it in the imagery of waking up to the dawning of a new day. Perhaps it is that mysterious moment when the darkness of night begins to give way to shadows, and there is just enough light to know that morning is just around the corner. This is a time of anticipation, and Paul urges his audience to action. It is time to get up and get dressed!”

It is an urge to be ready, as if Christ is coming at any moment. The clothing we put on, according to Romans, is Christ, the light of the world. Bathed in this light, we will be ready to face the new day, even if it seems that darkness has not quite departed.

Isaiah calls us out of the darkness, “Rise and shine! Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!” The words of the prophet are meant to fill us with hope – a hope that God’s word will be enacted. That what has been promised will indeed come true.

Advent declares that God’s light is coming into the world, just as it did so long ago in Bethlehem. Our job is to be awake, ready, looking and listening for it to be revealed to us.

In the end, what Isaiah offers is not only a vision of global transformation, but an invitation to live toward that day. . . The future belongs to God, but the first step toward that future belongs to those who have glimpsed God’s light and are willing to trust that enough light lies ahead.

Theologian Henri Nouwen writes that it can be quite a challenge to live in this way:

Often we want to be able to see into the future. We say, “How will next year be for me? Where will I be five or ten years from now?” There are no answers to these questions. Mostly we have just enough light to see the next step: what we have to do in the coming hour or the following day. The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain about what remains in the dark. When we are able to take the next step with the trust that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go.

May the hope of the prophets light our way as we go up to the mountain of the Lord together. May we learn God’s ways, and may we walk in his paths. Let us walk in the light of the Lord as we anticipate the kingdom of Heaven that has been prepared for us.

In the name of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit Amen.

Thanksgiving 2019: A Thanksgiving Litany

Let us give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts so freely bestowed upon us.

For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth and sky and sea.
We thank you, Lord.

For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women, revealing the image of Christ,
We thank you, Lord.

For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, and our friends,
We thank you, Lord.

For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve,
We thank you, Lord.

For health and strength to work, and leisure to rest and play,
We thank you, Lord.

For the brave and courageous, who are patient in suffering and faithful in adversity,
We thank you, Lord.

For all valiant seekers after truth, liberty, and justice,
We thank you, Lord.

For the communion of saints, in all times and places,
We thank you, Lord.

Above all, we give you thanks for the great mercies and promises given to us in Christ Jesus our Lord;
To him be praise and glory, with you, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving 2019

Mom basting the turkey at Thanksgiving

I wish you a happy Thanksgiving today. Please take a few moments and stop to give praise and thanks to God for his bountiful blessings to us as individuals and as a nation.

Among others, I am thankful for God’s gift of himself to us, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and for his promise to rescue his good but corrupted creation.

I am thankful for my family and friends, past and present, and for a childhood that was second to none. I am thankful for my family of origin and for the many wonderful memories I have of Thanksgiving growing up in Van Wert. What a blessing it was to have two wonderful parents and my extended family all living in the same town.

What are you thankful for?

Thanksgiving 2019: Robert McKenzie: A First Thanksgiving Hoax

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I first encountered William Bradford’s supposed First Thanksgiving Proclamation when my family and I enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at the home of some dear friends from our church.  Knowing that I was a historian, the host pulled me aside before the meal to tell me that he had found the text of Governor Bradford’s proclamation calling for the First Thanksgiving, and that he planned to read it before asking the blessing.  Here is what he had found:

Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.

Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.

William Bradford

Ye Governor of Ye Colony

Although I was uncomfortable contradicting my host, I felt compelled to tell him that this was a hoax.  Can you figure out why?

Read it all.

Thanksgiving 2019: A Very Brief History of Thanksgiving

After the first successful harvest in November of 1621, Governor William Bradford decided to organize a celebration, a festive three-day feast remembered today as America’s first “Thanksgiving.” The Governor gathered together the colonists along with a group of their Native American allies including Massasoit, Chief of the Wampanoag tribe for the celebration.

The only written account of the festivities comes from Pilgrim Edward Winslow’s journal in which he describes how Governor Bradford sent out a party of four men on a “fowling” expedition prior to the celebration and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer.

Due to the lack of ovens on the Mayflower and the dwindling sugar supply by the fall of 1621 historians suggest that the traditional dinner and deserts we have today may not have been on the menu during the event. Many believe the feast more likely consisted of a variety of traditional Native American fare such as deer, lobster, seal and swan along with local fruits and vegetables.

Read it all.

Thanksgiving 2019: President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Thank you, Mr. President.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

Read the whole thing and give thanks for the country in which we live, warts and all.

Father Santosh Madanu: Solemnity of Christ the King

Sermon delivered on Christ the King Sunday C, November 24, 2019 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, click here.

Lectionary texts: Jeremiah 23.1-6; Psalm 46; Colossians 1.11-20; Luke 23.33-43.

Christ the king Sunday celebrates the full authority of Christ as King and Lord of the universe.

The Jewish word messiah and the Greek word “Christ.” Both mean “the anointed one,” refer to Jesus the expected King of Jews and the world.

Pope Pius IX instituted the feast of Christ the King in 1925, to be celebrated throughout the universal church, in his encyclical Quas Primas. He connected the increasing denial of Christ as king to the rise of secularism throughout much of Europe. Some of the Christians began to doubt Christ’s authority and existence, as well as the Church’s power to continue Christ’s authority. Dictators in those times often attempted to assert authority over the church. And the feast of the Christ the king will make the faithful their due to honor and love to Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior.

The institution of Christ the King feast make the secular world to realize Christ Jesus would reign in our hearts, minds, wills and bodies. And respect the church’s right to freedom. Christ Kingship is one of humility and service.

The kingdom of Heaven is not democracy. God does not take opinion polls, nor can he be recalled or voted out of office, we are dealing with a loving and just king. Many forms of governments like Nazi Germany, Communism, Socialism, Democracy and the Russian Revolutions etc have proved imperfect with their leader’s selfish policies.

When once men recognize, both private and public life, that Christ is king, the Society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordained discipline, peace and harmony. It enables the citizens to obey the law of the land. It is good to have Nationalism and love for one’s own country but ultimate loyalty is due to Christ and His kingdom.

42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10: 42-45)

JOHN 18:33-35. ARE YOU THE KING OF THE JEWS?

33Pilate therefore entered again into the Praetorium, called Jesus, and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered him, “Do you say this by yourself, or did others tell you about me?” 35Pilate answered, “I’m not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered you to me. What have you done?”

JOHN 18:36-37. MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD

36Jesus answered, “My Kingdom (Greek: basileia) is not of this world (Greek: kosmou—from kosmos). If my Kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight, that I wouldn’t be delivered (Greek: paradotho – from paradidomi) to the Jews. But now my Kingdom is not from here.” 37Pilate therefore said to him, “Are you a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this reason I have been born, and for this reason I have come into the world, that I should testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

The kingdom of Jesus is tied to his suffering and death. His coming at the end of time to judge the nations with Justice balanced with His radical love, mercy, peace and forgiveness.

1 Tim 6:15 “ This will be made manifest at the proper times by the blessed and only Sovereign, the king of kings and the Lord of Lords.”

The kingdom is humble: Jesus inaugurates a kingdom that grows through humble acts of service. Our St. Augustine Church serves the poor, educates the young, welcomes everyone, visits the prisoners and pray for the sick and loves others. Because our power and strength is power of the Cross and strength of Jesus’s love. So therefore let us surrender totally to the Lord King of the Universe.

We are blessed with freedom to worship in private and Public Square. There are millions of people in the Middle East countries have no freedom to worship, either they have to worship God set by their religious country or die.

Quran explains if you believe Jesus is God, you go to hell, where it also mentions that Jesus speaking to Alla saying”by no means have I had no right to tell them to worship me”

Quran denies neither Jesus was killed nor rose.

I claim Jesus is the Christ the king from the evidences of His Lordship.

The following reference will prove that Jesus is taking the very nature of God and very Name of God

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word waswith God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.…

John 1: 18No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.

John 8:57-58 Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham? Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

Exodus 3:14 God reveals Himself His name is “I AM”

John 20:27-28 Jesus Claimed to be God

Then Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.”28Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”…

1Peter 3:14-15 always be ready with the reason for the faith and hope in Jesus Christ.

14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be shaken.” 15But in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give a defense to everyone who asks you the reason for the hope you possess. But respond with gentleness and respect

Jesus as a just God and King, he paid the price of sin through His suffering and death for us. And freed us from the slavery of sin and hell and thus justified every one with His infinite mercy.

An Ancient Account of Christian Worship in the Late Fourth Century

Since it is Sunday, at dawn they assemble for the liturgy in the major church built by Constantine and located on Golgotha behind the Cross [in Jerusalem]; and whatever is done all over customarily on Sundays is done here. Indeed it is the practice here that as many of the priests who are present and are so inclined may preach; and last of all, the bishop preaches. Because of the sermons that are preached, there is a great delay in giving the dismissal from the church; therefore, the dismissal is not given before the fourth or fifth hour [10-11am].

However, once the dismissal from the church has been given in the manner which is followed everywhere, then the monks, singing hymns, lead the bishop to the Anastasis [church of the Resurrection]. When the bishop, to the accompaniment of hymns, approaches, all the doors of the basilica of the Anastasis are opened, and all the people enter, the faithful, that is, but not the catechumens. Once the people have entered, then the bishop enters and proceeds immediately to within the railings of the
grotto shrine. First, they give thanks to God, and so the sacrifice is offered; and then a prayer is said for everyone. Afterwards, the deacon cries out that all should bow their heads, wherever they are standing, and then the bishop, standing within the inner railings, blesses them; afterwards, he goes out. As the bishop is leaving, all come forth to kiss his hand. And so it is that the dismissal is delayed until as late as the fifth or sixth hour [11am-noon]. Later at vespers everything is done exactly according to the daily ritual.

Egeria, Abbess and Pilgrim to Jerusalem, Pilgrimage 25

156th Anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

Today marks the 156th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, one of the seminal speeches in American history. Take time to read and reflect on it today and give thanks that God has raised up leaders like President Lincoln to guide our country through extraordinarily difficult times.

LINCOLN’S GETTYSBURG ADDRESS

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Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.