About Father Maney

The Venerable Dr. Kevin Maney received his PhD from the University of Toledo in Curriculum and Instruction, majoring in educational technology and minoring in educational leadership. He completed his studies for a Diploma in Anglican Studies at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA, and did his coursework almost entirely online. He was ordained as a transitional deacon in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) on February 9, 2008 and as a priest in CANA on May 1, 2008. He is now the rector of St. Augustine's Anglican Church in Westerville, OH, a suburb of Columbus. St. Augustine’s is part of the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word (ADLW) and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). In February 2020, Father Maney was appointed archdeacon by his bishop, The Right Reverend Julian Dobbs, to oversee the newly-formed Ohio Valley Archdeanery.

Thanksgiving 2021: 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 2021

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 2021: 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 2021: A Very Brief History of Thanksgiving

The tradition of the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving is steeped in myth and legend. Few people realize that the Pilgrims did not celebrate Thanksgiving the next year, or any year thereafter, though some of their descendants later made a “Forefather’s Day” that usually occurred on December 21 or 22. Several Presidents, including George Washington, made one-time Thanksgiving holidays. In 1827, Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale began lobbying several Presidents for the creation of Thanksgiving as a national holiday, but her lobbying was unsuccessful until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln finally made it a national holiday. 

Today, our Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday of November. This was set by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 (approved by Congress in 1941), who changed it from Abraham Lincoln’s designation as the last Thursday in November (which could occasionally end up being the fifth Thursday, and hence too close to Christmas for businesses). But the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving began at some unknown date between September 21 and November 9, most likely in very early October. The date of Thanksgiving was probably set by Lincoln to somewhat correlate with the anchoring of the Mayflower at Cape Cod, which occurred on November 21, 1620 (by our modern Gregorian calendar–it was November 11 to the Pilgrims who used the Julian calendar).

Read it all.

Thanksgiving 2021: 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.

Christ the King

Sermon delivered on Christ the King Sunday B, November 21 , 2021 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, usually somewhat different from the text below, click here.

Lectionary texts: Daniel 7.9-10, 13-14; Psalm 93; Revelation 1.4-8; St. John 18.33-37.

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

Today we celebrate Christ the King Sunday, a feast relatively new to the Church’s calendar. Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in 1925 as a way to resist the rise of totalitarianism and secularism of his day. How appropriate for our day as well, even if it is misplaced on our calendar. It marks the last Sunday of the Church’s calendar year and as its name implies, today is a day when we culminate the season of Kingdomtide where we proclaim Christ as King, Messiah, and Lord of all God’s creation. I’m going to cut right to the chase. Do you believe any of this? If not, here’s why you can.

We start by acknowledging that God’s world is occupied by an alien, malevolent power—Satan and his minions, both human and spiritual. Why God has allowed this, no one can say nor should we spend much time on the question because the answer is not ours to know, at least in this mortal life. What is important for our discussion is that the ubiquitous presence of Evil in this world has caused many, Christians included, to not believe Christ is really king. What kind of king allows Evil to be so awfully present? And frankly, that is just what the dark powers want us to believe! When we see evil run apparently unchecked (the key word being apparently) and have doubts about Christ’s ability to rule over his creation, despite the NT declarations that he does reign as king (e.g., Col 1.15-19, Christ’s ascension or any of his exorcisms), the dark powers celebrate because doubt seeds despair and unbelief and can lead to the abandonment of the faith once delivered to the saints, to you and me, made saints by virtue of the blood of the Lamb shed for us. 

However, the mere existence of Evil cannot fully explain why many of us fail to believe Christ is really king. Part of it involves human pride. We think we know better than God. We forget that we are finite, fragile, and mortal, prone to erroneous thinking and sinful behavior. We forget that God is omnipotent, eternal, and omniscient, that God’s ways are not our ways and God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. To one extent or another we are all products of “enlightened thinking,” an oxymoron if there ever was one, where we limit reality to what our senses can perceive and what we can measure. This creates in us a skepticism about some of the things we read in the Bible, like today’s OT passage, e.g., or Christ’s healings and exorcisms. The Enlightenment, for all the good it has produced, has also produced the Holocaust, Communism, two disastrous world wars, and the woke lunacy that is attempting to impose itself on us today to name just a few. The Enlightenment reveals human pride at work, determined to use one of God’s gifts, reason, to replace superstition and religion, the two sources most enlightened thinkers believed (and still believe) were/are the cause of all the evils of the world. Of course this is utter nonsense and we can see the results of thinking that excludes God from the equation all around us. Contrary to popular belief, when humans actually take God seriously and act according to God’s holy ways and laws, the results are always positive. 

Whatever the reason for our doubts and fears about God’s sovereignty—and let’s be clear, Kingdomtide season is all about God’s sovereignty—as all our lessons this morning testify, lessons that represent the whole of Scripture, Christ really is king and we can live confidently in that knowledge and reality. We must therefore learn what to look for concerning the signs of God’s rule in his world. In our OT lesson, Daniel shares the vision given to to him in response to the previous visions he received. In it we see the Ancient of Days, the Ancient One, God himself, preparing to judge the evil in his world as well as the powers behind it, both human and spiritual. The vivid imagery suggests purity and power, with God’s fiery judgment on all evil and those who perpetrate it. We humans need to be exposed to scenes like this, hidden from our senses, because they remind us God is in control of things, chaotic as our times and lives may be, mysterious as it all is to us. 

And then we see the Son of Man, who interpreted through the lens of the NT is Christ himself, coming on the clouds—biblical language attributing God’s presence and power to him—ready to be God’s agent of justice and judgment. This scene should make sense to us because until the time evil and evildoers are judged, there can be no real peace, no perfect world. Like the blood of righteous Abel, the blood of the martyrs and those murdered and killed unjustly will continue to cry out to God until God finally acts decisively to give them full justice. As Christians, we believe that day will come when Christ returns to finish his saving work and raise his saints to everlasting life. We may not like the fact that we have to wait for this day. Being children of instant gratification we may grow impatient and angry over Christ’s promised delayed gratification, but the fact remains that this promise and hope—the sure and certain expectation of things to come—are necessary if we are to thrive in this mortal life where we live in the already of God’s victory over Sin, Death, and Evil and the not yet of its consummation. As St. John the Elder reminds us in our epistle lesson, the blood of the Lamb has conquered Evil in a surprising and totally unexpected way. God’s victory is accomplished by the power of God himself, the only power strong enough to defeat Evil and Sin and Death.

In our gospel lesson, St. John the Evangelist also proclaims that Christ is God become human, that by going to the cross he will fulfill the prophecy and promise of Daniel that God will bring about God’s perfect justice to rid the world of all evil and evildoers. St. John proclaims this in part by telling us the story of Christ’s confrontation with Pilate, i.e., in telling us the story of God’s kingdom and justice confronting worldly power and justice. In this confrontation, St. John in effect proclaims that here is the Son of Man, coming on the clouds, i.e., coming in God’s power, to confront and deal with the evil and corruption of the world’s systems and beliefs. In this deeply ironic story, we see Pilate, who represents corrupt human notions of power and justice, mistakenly thinking that he is in charge and judging Christ as a political enemy when in fact it is Christ who is judging him—by going to the cross. For St. John, the cross is where Christ is crowned King and his kingdom’s rule begins. Again, in a deeply ironic moment, Christ’s crown consists not of gold but of thorns and most who are confronted by the story fail to understand this reality.

Notice carefully that Christ does not tell Pilate his kingdom is not of this world, but rather not from it, meaning the source of his power and authority emanate from God’s power and not human’s. Our Savior’s prayer that appeals for God’s kingdom to come on earth as in heaven makes little sense if Christ’s kingdom is some kind of spiritual kingdom rather than God’s power finally reasserting itself to heal a broken and corrupt world and its people. Pilate, ever caustic and cynical doesn’t get this. Neither do many of us in our cynicism. But our Lord tells him (and us) that he had come to testify to the truth, the truth being that God will not allow alien and hostile forces represented by Satan and his minions, Pilate among them, to go on causing havoc and pain and destruction and injustice and death forever. God in his loving goodness can never ultimately allow Evil to win the day as our OT lesson testifies. Pilate, of course, has no conception of truth because he retorted with the famous question, “What is truth?” Here we see St. John testifying that truth is not of our making. Pilate in his cynicism, a cynicism that is increasingly popular today, cannot fathom this. Truth in his economy is something each of us holds. It is ours for the making so to speak. Not so, says Christ. Only God is the owner of truth and that truth never changes or varies. We can’t bend it or invent it according to our needs and whims. But only by Christ dying for us would the world have the chance to learn this truth and start to live by it. This in part is what it means to submit to Christ’s rule. Because we do not like the truth does not give us the license to change it. We are to obey God’s truth in how we live our lives and that means we are to pattern our lives after Christ. What is truth? God’s great love for sinners like you and me, a love so great that God was willing to become human and shed his blood to rescue us from our slavery to Sin and to conquer Evil by the self-giving power of love. And in so conquering Sin, Death, and Evil, God has pronounced judgment on it all and those who commit and perpetrate it. Evildoers may seem to win the day, but their victory is pyrrhic and short-lived. Their day of destruction and judgment is coming and what a terrible day that will be. That is the truth. If you believe it, you will treat it like the eternal treasure it is and live accordingly.

So what does that look like? What does that mean for you and me? First, when we realize that Christ is our crucified king who has defeated and judged Evil by taking it on himself, we have reason to believe the NT’s promise that on the day of his return, his cruciform victory will be consummated and we will finally be freed from all that has the power to harm and destroy us, including and especially the power of Death. And when we learn to recognize what Christ’s reign looks like, we learn to have confidence in its truth and reality. That means we have real hope for the present and future. No matter how bad things get for us, we persevere in the power of the Spirit as we await the final redemption of our body and soul. Hope is a great blessing, my beloved. Don’t ever abandon it, especially when its source is God himself.

Second, our lessons invite us to learn and live by the truth, not the fiction of our own making, but God’s truth. As we have seen, despite appearances to the contrary, the truth is that God calls us to live according to his laws and created order and when we refuse to do so, we can expect God’s judgment. I will have much more to say about this topic in two weeks, but for right now I would simply point out that God’s judgment always leads to God’s justice and is motivated by God’s love for us. God created us in his image to represent his presence in the world. When we do that, things go swimmingly well for us and we find wholeness and contentment, despite the corrupting influence of living in an evil-infested world. As followers of Christ this means that we choose not to be partakers in evil and to confront evil with love and good after the manner of our Lord Jesus, even when it appears that our efforts are defeated or go for nothing. Let me give you a quick example of what this looks like in real life. Recently the Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore J. Cordileone, confronted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over her support for abortion. Unlike the powers of the world who use vitriol and anger and all the rest, the Archbishop instead called for prayer and fasting on behalf of Speaker Pelosi, asking God to convert her “maternal heart” away from supporting abortion. ++Cordileone also asked Catholic Christians to sign up for a “Rose and Rosary for Nancy,” where a rose would be sent to the Speaker for every Christian who signed up. As of Nov 15, 15,728 roses had been purchased, one of which were mine, and 1000 have been delivered, God be praised! This is how Christ the King’s reign works. In marked contrast to the nasty political business and name-calling (business as usual), we see God’s people praying for the repentance of one who denies the truth and supports murder. There was no name calling, just prayer and fasting and roses. Whether the Speaker repents is not the issue here. Rather, it is God’s people in Christ, working in loving obedience to him and appealing to his power to change hearts, minds, and lives. It is born out of a deep faith in the reality and efficacy of that power to conquer Sin and Evil and it confronts an unholy reality in a way that the person might actually be able to hear it without condemning her because we know that judgment is ultimately left to God and God alone. The world does not expect this and cannot recognize God’s power at work (one critic called the Archbishop “nutty,” for example). Therefore the world has misplaced or no hope, a terrible judgment in its own right. Not so with us. We have seen our crucified and risen Lord and we know his healing love and presence. On his behalf we dare to love each other enough despite our differences to support each other in our trials, tribulations, and suffering because we know that our trials are only temporary and the hope of glory, the new heavens and earth where we live in God’s direct presence forever, await us. And in doing so, we make known his love and presence among us. There is nothing better in all creation. This is why we can believe in Christ the King and his reign despite all the ambiguities, unanswered questions, and chaos that swirl around us. My beloved, I appeal to you to give (or continue to give) your lives and ultimate allegiance to Christ the King because in him, and only in him, will you find the strength and power for the living of your days and the blessed hope of eternal life awaiting you after you have finished running your race. To him be honor, praise, and glory forever and ever. 

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

158th Anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

Today marks the 158th 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. May God continue to be merciful to us today and bless us with an extraordinary leader to guide us through these 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.

Hope for Living in a World Gone Mad

Sermon delivered on the 2nd Sunday before Advent B, November 14, 2021 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, usually somewhat different from the text below, click here.

Lectionary texts: Daniel 12.1-3; Psalm 16; Hebrews 10.11-25; St. Mark 13.1-8.

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

Today we celebrate the second Sunday of Kingdomtide, the period of time in November between All-Saints’ Sunday and Advent Sunday. The focus of Kingdomtide is, well, on the coming Kingdom of God on earth as in heaven with King Jesus ruling God’s creation unmistakably and unambiguously. Kingdomtide is a pre-Advent season of sorts. Advent, you recall, is the season of four Sundays leading up to Christmas, with its focus on the return of our Lord Jesus Christ in great power and glory to raise the dead and renew all things in heaven and earth. Why is this important? Because Christians, at least many in the West, have lost their hope in Christ, and without hope we inevitably shrivel up and die. Hope is an especially important sign of God’s graciousness for us to embrace these days as we watch our society become increasingly unraveled and our lessons this morning point us to the exact nature of our hope in Christ. This is what I want us to look at. 

Any reasonable, informed person who takes even a superficial look at the events swirling around us today would conclude that Western civilization is under attack in various ways. Many of us find empty shelves in stores at which we regularly shop, a product of supply-chain and related issues. This is a strange new innovation that flies in the face of abundance most Americans are used to and there seems to be no quick resolution to the problem. COVID is still an awful reality with which we must deal, made worse by its politicization by all sides. We seem to hate each other more, with various forms of shaming and condemnation being the order of the day. Inflation is running rampant and we can’t seem to find enough workers. Family and traditional sexual values and mores are under relentless attack and the problem of indoctrination in public and private schools is a very real thing. Many of our cities continue to burn and are becoming increasingly lawless. These are but a few examples of the bad news and chaos that bombard us relentlessly, all made more intense by social media, themselves a window into the ugliness of the human condition. Then, of course, there are the personal and private burdens each of us bear: sickness, loss, alienation, mind-boggling rapid change in our lives and routines, isolation, and loneliness to name just a few. All of this (and more) can lead us to despair and hopelessness. We look around for some respite, but find precious little that brings hope and comfort. For us geezers out there (you know who you are), this is not the country in which we grew up, for better or worse, and it makes us afraid.

And what is our response? Despite the fact that we call ourselves “Christian,” many of us scramble to find any solution other than Christ to help calm us. We put our hope and trust in a political party. We put our hope and trust in our bank accounts and wealth. We put our hope and trust in a certain ideology. We try to amass power to exert some control over the chaos in and around our lives. Many of us become increasingly isolated, living almost a hermit’s existence. Regardless of our strategies and attempts to mitigate the chaos and uncertainty swirling around us and in our personal lives, they all have this in common: Every one will inevitably fail because they are based on human solutions, not God’s power. Try as we might to be the master of our own destiny, itself a product of delusional thinking, all our efforts to control our lives and the chaos in them are bound to fail. 

And so I ask you this this morning, my beloved. Is Christ your bedrock foundation on which you stand? Do you see him and the promise of salvation in and through him as your only real hope to navigate through these tumultuous times? If Christ is your bedrock foundation, you already know that what I am about to say is true. If he is not, then why isn’t he? After all, you profess him as Lord! Part of the answer is that the Church over the last 100 years or so has lost her bold voice in living and proclaiming Jesus Christ and him crucified and raised from the dead. I don’t have time to explore why that happened other than to say that parts of Christ’s Church have stopped believing her own story! Perhaps it is too fantastic for our “sophisticated” thinking. Whatever the reason, when we take the truth and reality of Christ’s resurrection out of the picture and stop teaching and proclaiming it, no one should be surprised that many Christians in the West refuse to stake their very lives on its reality. Simply put, the Church has lost her cred. Why should we expect outsiders to believe our story when many of us don’t even believe it, let alone stake our lives and future on it?

Another part of the answer also rests with us as fallen human beings. Since being expelled from paradise and losing our perfect communion with God, a communion that resulted in perfect health and happiness, humans have sought our own solutions to the problems we have largely created ourselves. We do this because from almost the very beginning, we have desired to take God’s place and pretend that God doesn’t exist. None of this will produce real hope for the future because it is all a sham and a delusion and deep down we know it, even if we refuse to admit it.

But for those of us who take our story seriously, we can find real hope for the present and future because our hope and trust is centered on God’s power, a God who loves us and desires for us to be and act as the image-bearers he created us to be. We see it in all of our lessons this morning. In both our OT and gospel lessons, we are reminded that history is going somewhere, that despite the chaos and madness that swirl around and in us, God the Father is still firmly in control. Daniel and St. Mark describe this chaos as the time of anguish and the birth pangs respectively: wars, rumors of conspiracy, chaos, suffering, persecution, death and destruction to name just a few. For reasons unknown and unknowable to us, God in his infinite wisdom and providence allows the forces of evil and their human minions to wage war on God’s people and world. Rather than wasting our time trying to figure out why God would allow this, we would be better off focusing on God’s promises to us. And what are those promises? God promises to be with his people, you and me, not necessarily to protect us—although he certainly does—but to assure us a real future, a future with new bodily life equipped to live in a world devoid of evil and sin and sorrow and brokenness and chaos and all the rest. Daniel is the OT’s clearest statement of the hope of resurrection and when he speaks of a dual resurrection with some being raised to everlasting life and others being raised to everlasting shame, he makes it clear that how we live our mortal lives has direct implications for our future. (And as a sidebar, it is noteworthy that the first followers of Christ did not use Daniel’s language of resurrected people shining like stars to describe the risen Christ, indicating that his resurrection was real and unexpected because they struggled to accurately describe it and him.) This is part of God’s promise to Daniel that despite the fact that Daniel and his fellow Jews had suffered God’s punishment for their idolatry and unbelief, God remained faithful to his people and promised to ultimately heal and restore them. The NT promises essentially the same, except the promise is offered to all people, not just Israel, in and through Christ and we see the promise played out vividly in the Revelation to St. John. If we are ashamed of Christ in this world and deny him in our professions and living, we can expect the same from Christ when we stand before his judgment seat. But we should not seek to follow Christ primarily out of fear of judgment because that will ultimately fail. We are way too sin-sick to be motivated by fear to do what’s right. Rather, we should take our cue from Daniel, whom twice God called precious in God’s sight before revealing this promise of resurrection to him. Daniel sought to obey the Lord because he loved the Lord and wanted to please him. Of course there was holy fear and reverence in Daniel’s life, but that was not his primary motivator. Love was.

As Christians we too have ample reason to love God the Father because of the work of God the Son, and here we turn to the letter to the Hebrews. If we are going to enjoy an eternity with God, living in God’s holy Presence, a Presence that cannot tolerate or allow any vestige of evil or sin, how are we ever to have a hope and a chance of achieving the promise of eternal life? After all, we are hopelessly corrupted by the power of Sin and that by definition excludes us from living in God’s direct Presence as Revelation 21-22 promise. The solution? The power and love of God worked out in the death of Jesus Christ. Christ is our great High Priest who bore God’s punishment and wrath on all our collective sins himself, allowing God to work out God’s perfect justice and condemn our sins without condemning us. The result? We are made fit to stand in God’s holy Presence forever by virtue of Christ’s blood shed for us. This is why Christ could sit down at his Father’s right hand. His sacrifice was made once and for all. There’s no need to repeat it, unlike the old priestly order that offered sacrifices for sin but could never take away sin the way Christ did and does. Incomplete work requires one to continue standing. Completed work allows the worker to be seated as Christ’s work on our behalf did. This is why Christ is the only way to the Father. No one else has the power to offer a perfect sacrifice for our sins, making it possible for us to live in God’s direct presence. If this great love for us does not produce a desire to respond faithfully and obediently to God’s commands, nothing else can and we really are hopelessly lost because we are without a saving faith.

So why does this all matter to us? First, we who put our faith in Christ are no longer under God’s just condemnation. That means we have a hope and a future. There is no good reason for us to ever fear the chaos that swirls around us and in our lives or our future. Whatever the reason God allows this chaos is trumped by the fact that God has acted decisively on our behalf to rescue us from the madness. And because it is God’s promise it cannot and will not fail, giving us the basis for real and legitimate hope. This promise will be made complete at Christ’s Second Coming and we focus on it during the seasons of Kingdomtide/Advent to remind us and help us in the living of our days. God is in charge and always has been. The world and its agents try relentlessly to get us to believe otherwise. That is why we need to know our Story contained in Scripture and that demands that we attend to and read holy Scripture on a regular, if not daily, basis. If you want real hope, my beloved, you need to put in your sweat equity so that you know the nature and basis of that hope. 

Second, in addition to being the only real antidote to hopelessness and despair, having a real hope in Christ’s future gives us a reason to live faithfully in the present, even in the face of failure and resistance. Why? Because like Daniel, St. Paul also reminds us our present work is directly related to our future hope. And since our future hope is made secure in Christ, we need to keep to the task of being faithful and obedient to God, working hard to do our part to bring God’s Kingdom on earth as in heaven, always remembering that it is God who ultimately makes that happen. Hear St. Paul now: “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless [or in vain]” (1 Cor 15.58). So the next time you forgive someone and it seems to make no difference, or the next time you help someone or comfort someone or lend to someone and you see no results, or the next time you proclaim the gospel to an unbeliever and are laughed at or ridiculed, or the next time you profess Christian values in the areas of sex, economics, or politics and are scorned and mocked and hated, take heart and hope because you know Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and he promises you that you share his destiny despite your unworthiness and failures, God be thanked and praised.

There are other applications to all this, of course, but here is my challenge and exhortation to you, my beloved. Believe your story. Live it together and celebrate it together. Continue to give your life each day to Christ and live in hope. Don’t fall into despair and don’t be afraid—Scripture’s most frequent exhortation to us. This will require you to be mindful about it because there is much in this life that makes us afraid and shouts to us that God and God’s promises are a lie. Don’t believe the liars. Jesus Christ is crucified and raised from the dead for you. You are part of his Body and you belong to him forever. Don’t give your pearls to the swine. Don’t settle for second best (or worse). Jesus Christ is King and Lord of all. His rule is not always obvious to us but it is real nevertheless and his promises are true. Accept the gift and stake your very life on this truth. To him be honor, praise, and glory forever and ever. 

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

2021: A Brief History of Veterans’ Day

As you pause this day to give thanks for our veterans, past and present, take some time to familiarize yourself with the history of this day.

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities.  This photo was taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.

Read it all.

A Prayer for Veterans’ Day 2021

Governor of Nations, our Strength and Shield:
we give you thanks for the devotion and courage
of all those who have offered military service for this country:

For those who have fought for freedom;
for those who laid down their lives for others;
for those who have borne suffering of mind or of body;
for those who have brought their best gifts to times of need.
On our behalf they have entered into danger,
endured separation from those they love,
labored long hours, and borne hardship in war and in peacetime.

Lift up by your mighty Presence those who are now at war;
encourage and heal those in hospitals
or mending their wounds at home;
guard those in any need or trouble;
hold safely in your hands all military families;
and bring the returning troops to joyful reunion
and tranquil life at home;

Give to us, your people, grateful hearts
and a united will to honor these men and women
and hold them always in our love and our prayers;
until your world is perfected in peace.

All this we ask through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Bishop Julian Dobbs: Running the Race

Sermon delivered on 3 before Advent B, Sunday, November 7, 2021 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

Bishop Dobbs gets all grumpy when we ask for a written manuscript. Nobody’s got time for a grumpy bishop so click here to listen to the audio podcast of his sermon.

Lectionary texts: Ruth 3.1-5, 4.13-17; Psalm 127; Hebrews 9.24-28; St. Mark 12.38-44.