Tuesday, June 30, 2009

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Prayers for week of June 27

Irene -- For my relationship with my friend.

Rhianwen -- For all who were at Zoe and Justin's weddoimng today and Sam and Monica's last week
That those who came for a party heard the Good News and will remember it.

Kerry -- pray that I will do what God thinks is right, not what I think in regard to this friend. And that God will give this man wisdom.

ZoeRose -- Prayers for my dad, now in his 70s and going through some tests. That he'll be healthy

Able -- For my mum that the results of medical tests she is having are positive. Secondly that God might really speak to her at the service a week tomorrow. (ie. Able's ordination.)

Joyous -- For discernment in what I should be doing when I retire.

Wilfried -- for guidance and for obedience

Ruby -- strength and faith in God; also must speak at a rather large event and is nervous.

Thanks, Joyous, for noting them down!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

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Prayer requests for week of June 21

Sorry they're so late, folks!

Helene: For wisdom in her new leadership responsiblities as Lay Pastor at the Cathedral. For patience and tolerance in her new role as it challenges some.

ZoeRose: I ask for prayers as I continue in my new job. I am very thankful to the Lord for this new adventure! I ask for travel mercies as I fly to Ft. Worth for the ACNA Assembly - I'll be writing about it and reporting on it.

JulieAnnRose Serenity: pray that my hubby is feeling well enough to enjoy next weekend as we celebrate our anniversary.

MingLynn Lionheart: Remaining positive amongst chaos and bleek economic times. Pray for provision.

Wilfried: Pray for the formation of the ACNA. Pray for God's will to be done.

Joyous Schism: for discernment on where I should be going next in my life, particularly whether I should be taking retirement now - what is the right way to spend my time and energy?

For Ruby as she makes decisions.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

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Book of James on audio

A tip from Helene: the book of James is available in audio - http://www.cwr.org.uk/store/p-603-new-testament-complete-mp3-audio-files-13gb.aspx

Monday, June 8, 2009

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Prayer requests 6 May 2009

Joyous: Facing a decision regarding whether to take early retirement. That she would clearly know what she should do over the offer she had at work to retire. If she accepts it, she would also like clear guidance about what direction she should take with her life.

Ruby: Friend Joanne took an overdose early Friday morning. Pray for Ruby for strength, wisdom. She feels empty and stressed. Ruby's church is up for sale and they have an opportunity to buy the building, but they need to raise circa £30k to do so by this Wednesday

Irene: I need direction about my job. I want to do what God wants me to. I am having trouble letting go of some hurt and anger I feel at work.

Able: For good endings, closure and new beginnings all with God at the centre - and that God would restore my soul. That God might speak to this person in SL who was character assassinated in a Christian group.

Helene: I need to use the next three months well to establish a good routine, in case I am recommended to start training at theological college

JulieAnnRose Serenity: for Samantha who is a satanist - for her salvation

Rhianwen: Thank you for answered prayer re technical things and that they will keep going

Wilfried: For peace, wisdom, and obedience

Saturday, May 23, 2009

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Notes on James 2

Able Shepherd has provided us with some notes, questions, and discussion points for James 2:

James 1
Rollover question from last week’s study...Why does James never quote Jesus?

James 2
1. What do verses 1 to 13 say about our tendency to form cliques in church?
2. How effective are our churches in welcoming?
3. How do verses 2:1-7 engage with our own cultures approach to wealth and poverty?
4. How could these verse shape our ministry to those in congregation who are involved in business?
5. How might Matthew 25:31-46 change our understanding of this? (See also the account of the widows mite, and treasure in heaven)
6. Does James’ teaching on faith and works in James 2:14-26 conflict with Paul’s teaching on this matter?

Note
a) The issue for James is NOT ‘Can faith save?’ but ‘Can dead faith save?’
b) The issue is NOT between salvation by faith in Christ and salvation by works
c) ‘Dead faith’ (intellectual orthodoxy) cannot save (2:14), is only a verbal thing (‘if someone CLAIMS to have faith’, 2:14) and does not show love (2:15f)
d) Paul and James agree that faith and the obedience proceeding from it are not antithetical but work together. For Paul, what really matters is ‘faith WORKING (same Greek root as ‘works’ in James) through love’ (Gal 5:6)
e) Abraham was justified before God (approved) long before he was shown to be righteous by his offering of Isaac (Gen 15, Gen 22)
f) ‘Faith alone justifies, but faith that justifies is never alone’

For the geeks out there, James can be analysed from a Multiple Intelligence Theory perspective. If you want to know more, let me know!

We will return to some of the above issues again later in James.

Yours in Christ

Able

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

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Prayer requests 16 May 2009

Joyous: guidance in a couple of decisions

Saskia: strength and wlsdom ln certaln thlngs

lrene: Please pray for my continued healing and for peace in my family.

Rhianwen: For my friend J ho was recovering well from an injury but now is unhappy and disappointed because it's getting worse again.

Wilfried: that I am free from anxiety and do all that God wants me to do - that I OBEY and Carry through !

MingLynn: Please keep and comgort my Godmother, Mary Francis Clark in her battle with breast cancer at age 84.

Able: having a meeting with the bishop - that it goes well

Sunday, May 17, 2009

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A visualization of James 1 by Able Shepherd

Able has created for us a verbal visualization of the first chapter of James using http://www.wordle.net - interesting for thinking back on this chapter:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

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James 1, second half - "Carrying through"

"Carrying through"

Before we read the passage together, I'd like you to think about this question - what do:
- shooting a gun
- taking a photograph
- what a conductor does when conducting the last few seconds of a piece of music

have in common? Hint: these have to do with the very "end" in the sense of "last part" of each of these actions - but also the "end" in the sense of "goal" or "final result", as in "the end justifies the means"

- what does vv 19-20 have to do with carrying through?

- have you had any experiences which are like this man and his mirror, in verse 23? What are the elements of this metaphor?

- type out the whole verse 25 to me in IM.

- we sometimes have a tendency to "objectify" things - what does this word mean, and can we objectify "faith"? Another word, which sounds a bit more hoity-toity - is "reify" - this means, "making a thing out of something."

Saturday, May 9, 2009

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Prayer requests for May 9

Helene: big decision to make regarding work need a lot of wisdom.

Saskia: lnsplratlon for my asslgnments.
wlsdom regardng a few matters

Liliana : keeping my spirits up
have an open sore from the burns on my neck that is giving me a lot of trouble.

Able:been to a meetlng at college meeting concerns a friend pray that God's will might be done, and that somehow, whatever the outcome, it might be turned to his glory.

Joyous: for my friend Chris. She had been providing care for her elderly mother, who recently died. And now she is caring for her father, with whom she has a difficult hisory.

Charlie: - for Margarita's counselling, and for our friendship.

Rhlanwen: for three firends who are enduring and ask that they be sustained by an awareness of the presence of Jesus.

Wilf: that God helps me focus on what I need to focus on in this coming week

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James - An Introduction

Able Shepherd has kindly provided us with this introduction to the book of James.

James has been controversial for a number of reasons. When reading the book of James, it is a challenge to define what genre of literature it might be. It could be:
a) A letter
Yet when compared to other letters in the New Testament it omits a number of features we might typically expect:
• An introductory blessing
• Personal address / context
• Conclusion
• Doxology
• Emphasis / focus on the cross
• Mention of the Holy Spirit
• Detail about Jesus and the Lord’s supper
• A tightly defined target / receiving body of believers

b) Wisdom literature
Certainly wisdom is an important theme (James 1:5, James 3:13-18), it pervades the subject matter (teaching on themes of faith and perseverance under pressure) and its literary form. Yet there are aspects which do not sit well with wisdom literature:
• It is letter like (even if unusual)
• Usually with wisdom literature, the difference between God’s people and humanity is very slight – in James, God’s people have a distinctive.
• It features an eschatological flavour, which is unusual for wisdom literature.

c) Paraenesis (exhortation / encouragement)
With such literature, and in general:
• The author is unimportant
• The presentation lacks continuity or development
• Links are made by repetition of words rather than by means of real connection of thought (much like a stand up comic can be gifted at making what appear to be random connections)
• The situation addressed is general rather than specific


Notwithstanding this, James is perhaps the most quoted letter in the New Testament. It is popular for three reasons:
a) James introduces many vivid and compelling metaphors
b) It is intensely practical
c) It is quite radical and uncompromising


Most commentators favour either an early date (42-60 AD, if the brother of Jesus wrote it) or a late date between 80-140 AD. General consensus though would seem to favour the early date.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

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Say hello to JulieAnnRose - an IMVU Bible study leader

JulieAnnRose will be joining us one of these weeks (she works every other week). She's particularly interesting since she's been holding a Bible study in IMVU. IMVU is sort of a virtual world area that mostly happens in chatboxes - you get an avatar that you can customize, and can invite people to chat with you - but you can't really walk around or build things - you can create "areas" for people to meet, but motion is limited to animations.

I had a very interesting talk with her last night together with ZoeRose. I was quite impressed with her thinking on ministry in general. JulieAnnRose sees her place in ministry as helping and nourishing others with her Bible study, and not so much evangelism - but she's connected with people who do go out and do evangelism, and she helps bring them together for encouragement and Bible study.

Unfortunately I won't be able to join her Bible study - it's at 4AM my time! But I may be able to visit once.

Strangely enough, it does seem that whole "subcultures" are building around these different virtual world platforms. At one point as I was talking with her, she was chatting with some of her IMVU friends, telling them about what was up with us in Second Life. She told me her friends ... well, didn't particularly like Second Life ... hehe, understandable enough. Though from our talk it sounds like some of things that I dislike about Second Life are also present in IMVU ...

I'm quite excited about how we'll all be able to exchange thoughts with JulieAnnRose about doing Christ's work in virtual worlds, and seeing what we can learn in comparing & contrasting what God is doing in these similar, but yet very different, places.

Friday, May 1, 2009

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Ministry in Second Life

Apart from the articles intended primarily for members of our Bible study, we also have a good number tagged Second Life Ministry. These include articles specific to ministry in Second Life, but also some articles generally about use of the internet combined with Christian ministry.

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an important feature missing from "Facebook for Pastors"

A while back, Chris Forbes wrote an excellent introduction to Facebook for people in ministry called Facebook for Pastors. Those who have been on Facebook for a while, or are a bit tech savvy, may have already grasped much of the potential Chris is talking about - but it's still worth a read.

Unfortunately, Chris didn't cover one of the most important features on Facebook - a feature which enables us to combat the problem of anonymity typical of Facebook - the problem, "I have too many facebook friends." This is the feature known as "friends lists."

A pastor friend of mine recently blogged that he had a few hundred friends on Facebook - but those that he considered "real friends" were just a small handful. This is a situation many of us will find ourselves in. With status updates of a large number of "friends," those that we really wish to stay in touch with more intentionally, in deeper community, are pushed down the page every moment one of the people who we have friended, but with whom we don't have the same bonds of friendship.

I have nearly 200 friends on Facebook. Obviously, I can't be praying for all 200 every day, and I don't need to know what each of them is doing every day.

Fortunately, Friends Lists helps this situation a lot. I've created a list of the Facebook friends who are in the Bible study that I lead. This appears in the left column, "Bible study" for the name of our Bible study. When I click on this link, only the status updates of these people, who I want to pray for in a more serious way than all the other friends, appears.

Just click on the upper-left "home" link to arrive at the default page of facebook, and in the left column, you'll see, under a list of links, a link for "Create." This allows you to create a list of friends. Type a name in the box where it says [new list] and then hit return (important! it's return, not "Save"). Then start typing the names of friends you'd like in that list in the box at the top right, and check them, to add them to the list. When you are done (and only once you are done), hit "save."

The name of the friends list will then appear in the column of links at the left of your default facebook page. You can add or remove friends from it later by clicking on its name - the link will turn blue with a white pencil to the right - you just click on the pencil to edit it.

I also like to keep track of what people who are in online ministry are doing - so I've created a separate friends list for them, as well.

This feature is incredibly important for keeping Facebook "sane" and directed at the people you most need to be in contact with, and the people for whom you are praying. Please pass this advice along; I do have the impression Facebook is becoming too much of a jungle for many users.

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Wonderful resource: Lifechurch.tv lifegroups


Sometimes I meet someone in Second Life who is interested in drawing closer to God. If at all possible, I'd like to encourage them to join a good group that prays together, and reads scripture together.

Unfortunately, our Bible study isn't the right match for everyone who wants to read the Bible and pray - our digging into the Greek and Hebrew is likely to turn some off - we have some excellent Bible readers, and simply the level of response might make some feel like their own contributions won't be "up to snuff" - however much I try to assure them of the contrary.

Obviously, the thing I would most wish for such people is that the find a good "real life" Bible study, and a good "real life" church, and take part in real life fellowship, instead of the kind of fellowship we have in Second Life. However, in most cases, this isn't likely. People we meet are often distressed - or have had bad church experiences - or, for whatever reason, don't feel comfortable moving themselves into a real-life location where they will see and be seen by a real, live group of people. Or - they may be afraid of showing up at a Bible study which is boring, and disappointing the people present when they don't come back. The relatively anonymous format of Second Life - and of online Bible studies - means that many will be willing to "come taste and see" in a relatively anonymous setting. It's often only after they have been fed and strengthened considerably that they feel enabled to take that next important step: of finding a real-life community for sharing in the experience of being together in the body of Christ.

For online evangelists, it's also not very likely that someone who comes to Christ, or expresses interest in learning more about God, will immediately take the next step of finding a church. It may happen (I've seen it happen), but I think this is a rather rare occurrence. Such a person might be able to be encouraged to take part in an online group, because of the relatively low psychological threshold in doing so - especially if encouraged a few times - or if you go together. We must keep in mind the very small percentage of people who come forward at evangelism crusades that actually become active members of church communities, when no follow-up or further discipleship takes place. We must make sure that the bonds of community are created from the very beginning - and, if we ourselves aren't able to welcome them into our own faith communities, we must find ways of welcoming them personally into other communities where they are likely to take part.

At the moment there is no comprehensive list of Bible studies occurring in Second Life, or a list of Bible studies that occur online.

This is where Lifechurch.tv is such an excellent resource. They have, at the moment, nine separate Bible studies going on. Whenever you meet someone who is unlikely to take the steps of finding, and actually going to a "real life" small group, you can invite them to consider taking part in an online small group. Lifechurch, as of this writing, has nine online studies going on. You can consult the list here.

At the current moment, these studies, except one, are happening somewhere between 5AM and 7AM GMT, with the exception of one, which is at 10AM GMT. So they're all evening time in the US, but at a time that most UK people and Europeans are at their jobs. A pity for us in Europe and the UK - but a tremendous opportunity for us to help people in the US to get connected, and grow spiritually until they are ready to take that next step. There's currently only one Lifegroup inside Second Life - this meets at 4PM SLT - so also not at a time UK & Europeans are likely to join.

If you meet someone who does wish to learn more about God, or grow in faith - and can not welcome him or her into your own faith community, why not see if any of these lifegroups would be appropriate? You can even e-mail the leaders of the lifegroups, telling them about your friend, and it's more likely that that person will get in touch with them via a personal e-mail, taking the first steps of contacting them, telling them a bit about the group, and welcoming them into the group. It's not "live" face-to-face contact, but a warm, personally-written e-mail can go a very long way in establishing an initial bond of community, making your friend feel welcome, and increasing the chances that he or she will actually join the group, and take part fruitfully.

Lifechurch also has, of course, their stream-broadcasted services, which are accompanied by a chat box to the right of the service video. This of course doesn't yet approximate the deeper kind of community one experiences with sustained interaction in Bible study and prayer. But it is an opportunity for the people at Lifechurch to reach out to visitors in chat and invite them, a bit personally, to take part in one of the studies. Their page for the streamed services is here. There are also some services in the evening for European & UK people.

Remember the Lifechurch online Bible studies and don't miss out on an opportunity to connect someone, and help them in their first few steps in Christian fellowship.

A hint to Lifechurch people: this is such an excellent opportunity to connect people - but you don't show up on the first few pages for "online Bible study" in Google. Some SEO work could help you out a lot.

For your friends who are ready to take that next step and find a real life small group - http://www.greatadventureonline.com is a Bible study locator with the largest number of studies I've been able to find on the net. Here's the big surprise: it seems to be operated by a Catholic press (it's not clear whether this is just a list of Bible studies using their materials, or Bible studies, tout court). Notice how many Bible studies there are in the great lakes region of the United States - interesting to say the least - I wonder if this has to do with how they've promoted the site, or is actually some kind of indicator of where Bible studies are happening in the U.S.. Again, for the United States only - no countries outside of the US are given.

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Spring break hiatus continues

We'll be continuing on spring break - thus won't be coming together for Bible Study this Saturday evening. I do wish you all a blessed weekend.

Monday, April 27, 2009

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twibe post

This post is not mainly for people involved in the Bible study (unless they're interested in thinking further about online ministry). For people in the Bible study who have a twitter prayer profile - if you add this, please add it to your non-prayer profile & not your profile intended for prayer.

There are many involved in doing some kind of online ministry, and many church media people writing about the tremendous potential - or danger - of online community - but there are relatively few who are actually doing online ministry, and also writing about the many aspects of online ministry. Those of us who are involved in online ministry have a great deal to learn from one another. I would like to encourage those who are active in online ministry to write about what they are doing, and also profit from the insights of others who are engaged in this unique type of ministry. Myself, and others involved with the Anglican Ecumenical Bible Study in Second Life, will from time to time post our thoughts and insights here.

For twitter users who regularly think about online ministry and are interested in sharing their thoughts and finds - especially pieces reflecting on the topic of online ministry - I've created a "twibe" - http://www.twibes.com/group/OnlineMinistry

Basically this is a kind of "twitter group." You know how your twitter page is flooded with people's updates about heading off to pick up the kids ... etc.. etc.. - there will be tweets you've missed about online ministry that you'd rather not have missed, just because of the flood of tweets from people you are following.

This "twibe" is basically a filter - it shows all the posts of all the people who have joined, and have added the tag #OnlineMinistry to their post. No hashtag required (so you can also just use the word OnlineMinistry, without any space). If you join, you can share your findings about online ministry by just putting the word OnlineMinistry somewhere in the post - and anyone can go to this page to see what's been posted.

Part of what we need to be doing as Christian communities is acting intentionally - helping one another focus. I hope this helps.

Please note: this is not meant for recruiting people to come to your own online ministry - like, "we have an online Bible study going on now come and join" type of tweet. For this type of tweet, if you join the OnlineMinistry twibe, please don't add the word OnlineMinistry to your tweet - otherwise the twibe will be mostly full of tweets asking people to come to online Bible studies.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

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Spring break this Saturday

Hi All,

This Saturday, April 25, I'm off to sing for zie Germans - concerts in Hannover and some other German city whose name I've forgotten.

Anyways, we'll have a hiatus - this week, and perhaps next week, when I'll be singing in Antwerp. I will miss you all very much!

I wish you all a good weekend.

For prayer requests, please send them to me in a FB message and I'll post them to the group.

=========================

In case you're interested in what we're singing:

We'll be singing Mendelssohn's Paulus - you can hear it here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06kbhGxxMT - click on the "More from krelena2009" to hear the other parts (it's LOONG). And you can watch it without having to pay 20€ !

Notice how it begins with the theme of "Wachet auf," which we discussed a few weeks - music which goes with the parable of the 10 virgins - "Wake up, cries the watchman, high on the city walls - Wake up, o city of Jerusalem." I believe this was quite important for the reformation. Mendelssohn also wrote a "Reformation Symphony" (with the tune you'll know as A Mighty Fortress, "Ein Feste Burcht" written by Luther). In this oratorio you'll also hear some tunes that sound inspired by Bach's St. Matthew Passion. Mendelssohn is on of the most important figures in bringing Bach into popular musical taste. He perfomed the St. Matthew Passion for the first time since Bach's death.

Mendelssohn was from a family of converted Jews. His grandfather is one of the most important Englightenment philosophers and Jewish reformers - Moses Mendelssohn - while his parents were Lutheran.

Hopefully we'll sound quite a bit better than these people - our conductor puts quite some cojones into our performances.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

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Space and ecclesiology

This article is becoming something of a "thread" to record articles that might be significant for thinking about ministry in a setting where the "virtual" in some way is an element of the environment.

Graham Ward is one of the Radical Orthodoxy theologians, and has given a paper entitled Spirituality, Analogy and Desire.

The paper has deep implications for the notion of spatiality and Christian community.

http://returningtothechurch.org.uk/2009-conference-papers/graham-ward.html

This reminds me of an insight I had last night. Of the "traces" of the first Christian communities which are dear to us, the most prominent ones are those which were written from a distance - within Christian community, but not within physically proximal Christian community. The very distance defined and constituted the form, or genre, of these messages: a messages in epistelatory form - i.e., letters. Besides the gospels, it is only in these letters that the Holy Spirit speaks in such a way that we recognize in them the very Word of God.

Apostles of the early church could have very well transcribed sermons - or their liturgies. They could have transcribed dialogues taking place amongst members (dialogues were also a known genre - as Plato makes obvious). However it is specifically in the genre of words meant to cross a physical distance that we recognize this unique presence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

I may be using this post as something of a marker for possible interesting reads in the area of theology & online ministry.

One I hope to read soon: Leon Schults -
"Religious Symbolism at the Limits of Human Engagement." Chapter for a book to be published with the International Society for Science and Religion. Deals with Peirce and Neville.

Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist, notes that people who are tempted to cheat, when the prize is money, cheat less, than the case when the prize is tokens which can be exchanged for money ... something to reflect on re. "virtuality" and how "virtuality" can encourage certain behaviors, including intentional deception, and also self-deception. http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/487

A short story that's sort of a fable about Postmodernism (in themes - duplicity, masks, fragments & mimesis ... and in literary device) - http://www.mcsweeneys.net/2009/4/14malla.html - reminds me somewhat of the closing of Foucault's Pendulum and what Umberto Eco has to say about language and the body with the cancer patient and mutating DNA sequences

There are a great number of articles about the problems of "Postmodern" society especially as influenced by the internet and the whole internet / virtual world problem. A challenge will be finding some of the best ones - best summaries pointing to primary sources, and also best new, fresh insights. I've seen/studied quite a lot of postmodern primary sources - i.e., Derrida, Foucault, Lacoue-Labarthe, Paul Deman, Lyotard, as well as their background - largely phenomenology: Husserl & Heidegger. Note: there is a lot here which Christians are likely to find rather repulsive, however careful study also reveals some things which can be used fruitfully in philosophy and theology. Especially the way they call to question certain Enlightenment (and Romantic) presuppositions which aren't particularly scriptural, and are somewhat non-rational.

Here also is a humorous piece, Internet Age Writing Syllabus and Course Overview

Also relevant re. space & ecclesiology: Tim Keller's thinking on the City - pdf notes
audio

Less related:

On church planting, Tim Keller "Why Plant Churches" - also The Missional Church, Advancing the Gospel into the 21st Century Part III: Context sensitive - all linked here

Saturday, April 18, 2009

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Prayer requests April 18

Liliana: About half way done with the radiation and am tolerating it well. Biggest negative I'm feeling is being tired most the time. It will go away after treatment is over. Only prayer I can think of for me is to keep hanging in and as I get treatment, receive all the blessings that God is raining down on me.

Able: Moving in circa two months with so much to do between now and then. For God to help me work through everything I need to do

Helene: For God's guidance as I continue to work on my paper about SL ministry.

Irene: For the candidates and team on Sabine Creek Tres Dias that the Lord will be glorified in everything that is said and done. Also rejoicing in the continued healing of Joe.

Rhianwen: Thanks for the continued healing of Janice. For her computers improvement.

NewCreature Writer: Prayers for his parents, they don´t know Jesus yet, i have been praying for about 11 years. Anyway, pray to God touch their hearts and minds

Wilf: Pray for a friend and his family - his wife and both of his sons are either sick or wounded

Saskia: Pray for my Job, im gettin so much grief at work from my boss, and for tuesday i have somethin i have to do but not lookin forward to it, and guidence in everything really

0

Online mission opportunity


Paul Watson is doing something very interesting this summer. Paul does some of the most incisive thinking I've seen in the area of online mission, and has a wealth of experience in church planting. This is a project - you go to one of two locations in the States (Texas and east coast), for training - followed by eight weeks part-time online mission, wherever you live.

This may be of interest to some people you know. It's largely free - I think transportation (maybe food / lodging) is all you have to pay for. See http://reachingtheonlinegeneration/summer_missions/ for more info.

And for more info, here's a video about it:

0

Music for Psalm 19

There's a lot of contemporary/poppy music available on Youtube which is based on Psalm 19. I'm feeling a bit sick today, and then ... it's a bit tough for me to listen to Hillsong United stuff ... so if you want to find this for Psalm 19, you'll have to go looking yourself this time ;) .

The best-known rendition of this Psalm is probably Haydn's in Die Schopfung (the Creation). Here is the piece itself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LMsYlyAvC0 . A longer video, with William Christie (excellent for this period of music) is here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5RHDwdaanQ - the portion with Psalm 19 in it is at "Day 4." Interesting here also is the commentary the Wikipedia has regarding this movement of The Creation:


No. 13. Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes (The heavens are telling the glory of God)

The mightiest of the choruses of The Creation and a popular favorite. Haydn's century, following on the discoveries of Newton but preceding those of Darwin, was the heyday of the view that an orderly universe—particularly the mathematically-governed motion of the heavenly bodies—attests to divine wisdom. Haydn, a naturally curious man, may have had an amateur interest in astronomy, as while in England he took the trouble to visit William Herschel, ex-composer and discoverer of Uranus, in his observatory in Slough.

"Die Himmel erzählen" is not in the home key of Part I, C minor, but is instead in C major, showing the triumph of light over dark. It begins with alternation between celebratory choral passages and more meditative sequences from the three vocal soloists, followed by a choral fugue on the words "Und seiner hände Werk zeigt an das Firmament", then a final homophonic section. ("The wonder of his works displays the firmament" is the English text here, with word-order calqued from the German, but somewhat awkward compared to the Authorized Version's "And the firmament sheweth the handywork of God".) The unusual intensity of the ending may be result of Haydn's piling of coda upon coda, each occurring at a point where the music seems to be about to end.

End of the fourth day.




I found one video with an older Italian guy singing something Gregorian which is at least partially based on Psalm 19. There's just something about this guy, sitting alone behind his electronic organ in a somewhat cramped room, with his beautiful voice, praising God with this psalm. He has a very good voice for doing solo Gregorian singing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zQzXQcnriU

An organ piece by Allesandro Marcello (Italian woman, 1669-1747 - Bach knew of her work): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEcBn2c0e1k

Well, one contemporary piece: The Twinkling Stars are a contribution from the Tamil Christian Contemporary Music scene. Here they sing, both in Tamil and in English (see if you can spot the transition) a beautiful hymn based on the first line of this song, with synthesizer and guitar accompaniment, in a music video featuring synchronized hand and head motions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4H_XcaRG4vQ . Actually I have to hand it to these ladies - with just a guitar, a synthesizer, and a video camera, they're doing what they can to praise God, and it is very joyful music indeed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

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Prayer requests 11 April

We missed praying together this Saturday - a lot of things were going on, and only a few of us showed up - and we decided to go to the service Helene was leading.

We do, however, have this important prayer request:
Saskia: We are havin a holiday club fro the kids next week, i am doin a few things durin the week, the main bit is that i am fronting it on the thursday, and so far my prep for it is non existance. I would like God to hurry up and show me which way he wants me to go with it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

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Music for Psalm 110

Okay, only one piece of music for Psalm 110:
Händel's Dixit Dominus

We progress from the sober tones of being in the depths ... to rushing to God's presence ... in Bach's setting of Psalm 130 ...

And now we have the roundly declarative - almost aggressively delcarative - tones of the Dixit Dominus in Psalm 110. There is a sort of very serious, pointed jubilation in Händel's piece. It reminds me of the eschatological aspect of Christ's Lordship.

We will be conducting this Bible study on Silent Saturday, so in a way ... very inappropriate for this particular day. However, this is our only day for dealing with the Holy Week - with Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. This is a piece really fit for Easter Sunday - or perhaps Christ the King. But in Holy Week, we must dwell on Christ - and Psalm 110 is, I think, an excellent way to move from the sober tones of Psalm 130 (we will already have Good Friday behind us), to expectation of the Resurrection, and a meditation of who Christ is.

A version by the Balthasar-Neumann Choir is very aggressive - in the first few seconds the recording even has a bit of distortion, probably an unexpected fortissimo - I selected this one to give you and idea of how Baroque music is sometimes interpreted today - and how much more expressive it is than the more serene, "ideal dinner music" type recordings - though you may prefer versions which are mildly less aggressive than this one. So here the Balthasar-Neumann Choir version.

And here's a version of Händel's Dixit which is a bit less aggressive. I wanted to find one performed earlier - like in the 70's - that would be a better example of how baroque music used to be performed - the serene, "ideal dinner music" interpretation, like so many renditions of Vivaldi's Four Seasons - but didn't find any.

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Music for Psalm 130

Psalm 130 was one of the favorite psalms for baroque composers, for reasons we discussed at last week's Bible study. It was also very important to Martin Luther.

Bach

BWV 131 - "Aus der Tiefe"
Notice how "Aus der Tiefe ... " is solemn, tragic - (out of the depths, I call, Lord, to You"). It then progresses to something more bold - with "Herr, höre meine stimme" - "GOD, HEAR MY VOICE! Your ears take note of the sound of my pleas." "Aus der Tiefe" provides the tragic setting of despair - and out of that despair - our bold, confident voices calling to God.

Hmm, I didn't know this: it was written after the town of Mülhausen was burned down! Ton Koopman talks about this piece, before the choir & orchestra perform it - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JY2RsBYSEM&feature=related - a very good description of Bach's faith regarding this piece as well. I think what Koopman misses in his description is the contrast between the context - "aus der Tiefe" - and the boldness, and almost joyful anxiety in singing "Lord, hear my voice!"

Koopman's performance is definitely professional - but a bit "old fashioned," and in my opinion, not so baroque - if you're interested though, there's another one I'd like you to hear - a more "modern" performance (this usually means, examining the Baroque context and trying to play it more "authentically," the way it was probably performed in Bach's time, and not so much the way we are accustomed to hearing it - since we have hundreds of years of music interpretation between us, especially the Romantic era - which makes us sometimes tend to play baroque pieces a bit more slowly, and less "confidently," with things sounding very soothing, and rarely sharp, rhythmically, or with "oomph" - more like music that's perfect for aiding the digestion. When I think that often baroque music isn't always intended to sound peaceful and serene, but sometimes quite forcefully expressive. Anyways - listen to how these people sing it - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUHIz16BW-E - the performance is less professional, but listen to how they sing, "Herr, höre meine Stimme" - Lord, hear my voice! This sounds in a way a bit more primitive, more rushed - but I think it carries the spirit and expression of the piece much better than Koopman's. There is something - a bit frenzied - but yet joyful and confident here - it sounds like me, when I am anxious, and crying out to God - not nice, measured tones, but something like rushing to God in my eager cries to Him.

BWV 106 - Actus Tragicus
The Actus Tragicus is not based on Psalm 130, but it belongs "together" with this Cantata - if you're listening to the first, you may as well listen to this one, so here it is. Here's a performance by Junghänel (not quite as 'old school' as Koopman and a bit more vigorous) - Part I - Part II . This is one of Bach's earliest cantatas.

There are LOTS of settings of Psalm 130, especially from the baroque period.

I'll close here with one from John Rutter's Requiem - this one is special since ZoeRose's church choir is going to be performing it for Good Friday.


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Music for Psalm 51

Bach: Tilger Hochste
ZoeRose gave me this tip: Tilger Höchste, a setting of this psalm by Bach - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNH-4t-rLnc. This is interesting - Pergolesi wrote a Stabat Matter (describing Mary at the crucifixion) - a piece expressing great sorrow - and Bach decided that this would also be very fitting for the penitent mood in Psalm 51.

Allegri: Miserere
The best-known setting of Psalm 51 is Allegri's Miserere. This piece has an amazing history - at one time, it was protected by the Vatican, and allowed only to be performed at the Sistine Chapel - it was said that transcription of this piece (writing down the music) for further distribution was punishable with excommunication. And it's said that Mozart, when still a kid, heard this piece, and wrote it all down - somewhere along the way, he met the famous music historian Charles Burney, who published it. It's said that the pope summoned Mozart and didn't excommunicate him, but told him how impressed he was at his talent.

The piece is sometimes described as the greatest "Hit" of all time - people traveled from hundreds of miles just to hear it; and the Vatican's protection of this piece.

Part I
Part II

Asperges me
This chant is a setting of the verse - "Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, O Lord, and I shall be cleansed; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." It's often sung in services. Here is a video I like a guy singing it in the woods, surrounded by a lot of snow - a nice reminder of the pure, white snow of Psalm 51, and that God's forgiveness renders us even whiter and purer than the snow, how utterly far He sets us from our sins. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jssBbdfAbgQ

Saturday, April 4, 2009

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Some thoughts on Psalm 130

Irene put together some insights for us on Psalm 130 - here they are.

Hi Wilf. Here are some things I thought were interesting about Psalm 130.

There were 227,000 hits for the psalm on Google!

Here's a use of the Psalm recently in Israel:

While Israelis run for shelters, SMS subscribers are given a choice of options: Recite Psalms Chapter 130; give charity, call the United Nations and/or leading American politicians, or “pause for a moment and pray for the people of Sderot.”
According to Mostofsky, since the inception of Project SMS, participants have recited Psalm Chapter 130 more than 16,000 times during the 15 seconds after a Kassam rocket has been launched at Israel.


This Psalm is said during the yearly memorial service called Yizkor on Yom Kippur for parents who died in the previous year,

It's a Psalm of Assents (not sure how they got degrees since one or two of the translations said a Psalm of Degrees... out of that) meaning it was recited by pilgrims on the 3 pilgrimage feasts going UP to Jerusalem. (BTW...one goes UP to Jerusalem from wherever one lives - and goes down when leaving!)

John Newton recited it when he was on a ship that was caught in a horrible storm...his response after surviving was to write Amazing Grace.

Of course, it's oneof the most musically adapted psalms (watts; Bach; etc.)

In Hebrew, the whole book is called Tehillim...which means Songs of Praise. The individual ones are called Mizmorim. Don't know if anyone will care. However, Tehillim are divided into 5 books just as the Torah is. One author said, “Moses gave the path but David gave directions."

OK - am REALLY sorry I am going to this conference - but my way is being paid and I can't back out! Have a wonderful meeting - will br prayiing for all of you. Bye.

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Prayer requests April 4

Wilf- Follow God and to be obedient to him.

Rhianwen - Pleasre pray for a family whose daughter has had a mental disorder possibly drawn attention to as a result of a horrible experience


ZoeRose - direction on the job front.

Liliana - pray more and more effectively than ever - my doctor has given me a few to pray for.

Saskia - Strength and guidence.

Adam- that chemo continues to go well for Bill my brother in law and that they find a good donor for him.

Joycelyn - Prayers of thansgiving that God uses us to help each other whenver he can, that my bro is improving in his responsbilities to our mom and that I had a job interview. Payer for mom's continued health and now recovery from another fall and that I shall be working again very shortly.

.........................................................................................................................

Pray for others in the group as you fell led who are not here tonight.

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Keeping priests accountable

This posting has since moved here - I'd posted to this blog as a matter of convenience, but as a matter not dealing with the Bible study, moved it to a personal blog.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

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Mission online and resources

Hi folks

Hope and pray that you are all having a blessed day...

I wanted to share with you some websites that make interesting reading - because it really struck me that in my experiences in SL for example, there has been very little (if any) discussion about mission. I wondered why this might be the case, and how we might best fulfil the Great Commission through these alternative networks. The sites include:

a) A comprehensive list of blogs and sites relating to internet evangelism (http://www.internetevangelismday.com/christian-communication-blogs.php)

b) An article about SL evangelism (http://www.internetevangelismday.com/secondlife-evangelism.php)

c) Reaching the Online Generation (http://www.reachingtheonlinegeneration.com/)

d) Innovation in mission (http://innovationinmission.blogspot.com/2009/03/what-makes-place-innovative.html)

e) Allelon - a movement of missional leaders (http://allelon.org/2009/529)

I know that there is a lot to go at here...but why not take a quick look and see if anything recaptures your imagination!

Every blessing

Able

Sunday, March 29, 2009

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Prayer requests 28 March

A very special, urgent prayer request from Irene - please keep this particularly in mind:

My oldest and dearest friend called...her 33 year old Nephew was discovered dead this morning - heart problems. His wife found him slumped over the comptuer keyboard this morning - please pray for safe travel for the family heading to New Mexico- leaves a wife and a little girl. Zoe (the little girl) will be 7 in June..

Please pray for Dan and Vicky (the parents) and the mother-in-law (Vicki)

Able: For restoration after a busy and demanding term, that I might find space to retreat and be alone with God that I might drink deeply of those streams of living water. (Psalm 23)

Saskia: For guidance and strength, and ability to remember James 1:19 ( be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.), for blessing and affirmation in youth work. Also for her friend who has recently been a victim of domestic violence.

Wilf: For God to continue to lift him from apathy and energise him to be, and then to do and to lead him into all blessing

Charlie: Courage to keep his new AV shape that is more in line with RL

Loo: For endurance and sustaining in an extremely hectic schedule

Helene: For guidance and good time management as I prepare my report for the Director of Ordinands. For a time of learning and growing in the months before the selection conference.

Joyous: guidance and peace

Irene: Continued healing for Joe and rejoicing in his continued recovery; prayers for Irene's daughter, Katie, who has had a horrible reaction to something undetermined and is swollen up all over and under the Dr.'s care.

Liliana: Starting radiation monday - for the treatment to only do what it is intended and for no ill effects

Baeric: That funding would be release to cover every aspect of his doing a masters degree in September 2009 to september 2010

Joycelyn: praise to God for helping mom heal and lift her spirits too; for my brother to find peace in his own heart and stop yelling and controlling, demanding of others instead of focusing on improving his own life; for me to have work and soon

Rhianwen: For continued recovery of Rhianwen's friend

Adam: For his brother in laws' family - general well being ...he is fighting cancer right now

2

Keeping spirituality and community "real" in Second Life

A friend of mine recently asked me about ministry in Second Life. I wrote him back, and thought it would be interesting to share some of these reflections here, and with anyone who has an interest in ministry in Second Life.

Lately, Shane Hipps made quite a stir in the Internet Ministry blogosphere with a video in which he cast (very reasonable, in my opinion) doubt upon virtual communities in general - I have responded to his remarks here. I think that one way that he is missing the mark is in limiting his thoughts and vision on Second Life ministry to "website communities." Had he an idea of what is going on in Second Life, and in our group in particular, he perhaps would have found a better way of couching his critical remarks, without seeming to deny virtual communities altogether.

There are many opportunities for unique ministry in Second Life. But the platform has suffered under a lot of hype, and a lot of the "ministries" going on there have also sometimes been a bit blinded by hype - in my opinion - like any medium, it matures by people using it, making mistakes, and learning. The possibilities are very specific - but very, very rich - somehow people expect the unexpected there, and sometimes feel somewhat child-like - often with something of a sense of wonder - and that is a very fruitful attitude for encounters with God. Many I think discuss spirituality and God in SL in ways they never really would in situations with people they meet in "real life" - and the more embodied format makes them more inclined to "feel" the presence of the person they are talking with, and thus ... dwell on what's said a bit more than they would be likely to, say, in a chat room.

The challenge of Second Life is to make sure the community - and the spirituality - maintains a "real" character, past the initial, wonder-filled, dreamy contact. Because of the "virtuality" of things, credibility is an important issue. So ironically - some of the things that seem like they would be less important in a "game-like," "playful" atmosphere - like consistent, prolonged community contact, responsible teaching, and community moderation (taking people aside when they offend, or offer controversial remarks out of context that might take things off-track, etc. etc., and gently discussing with them the aims of the study, and their own thoughts and aims) are, in my opinion, even more important in Second Life ministry than in "real life." Because these communities have a strong "virtual" element, they are more vulnerable - the commitment, necessary for real spiritual community, is more difficult to achieve and maintain. Furthermore, not all with us should stay with us - many will be better served by real life communities if they can find them, and won't have the extra time for SL. Also, with the limited means of communication, Second Life is known for a lot of misunderstandings, and misunderstandings fostering yet more misunderstandings - leading to heated conflicts one is much less likely to encounter in "real life." Our own Bible study is much more open to these problems, since it is discussion-oriented and depends about 85% on the input of members in interpreting Scripture. Other ministries are more "broadcast-oriented" - simply gathering people together for a pre-recorded service in which responses are the occasional "amen" or, in a liturgical service, the responses in the service sheet. However, broadcast-oriented ministries are more like televised services - the services themselves don't do much to foster community. The community isn't formed without significant interaction amongst the members - and this interaction has a profound effect on the character of the community.

There is a lot of hype going on about "online ministry." I think it has an important place in the church, but will take time for churches to become acquainted with "what works" and what "is hype." The site I've found to be doing some of the deepest thinking on the matter, hitting real issues more often than going on about rather trite stuff - is http://reachingtheonlinegeneration.com. A good number of his articles show a serious engagement with online media, challenges involved, and actual strategies, in a manner that probes these things more deeply than most sources I have come across. Like many evangelism-oriented people, his background is Baptist, but he is very ecumenical. Paul doesn't have much experience specifically in Second Life, but those interested in doing ministry in Second Life will find many of his articles very applicable to the thought processes they will need to undergo in order to seriously engage Second Life as a platform for engaging in ministry.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

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Article on Psalm 51 by Baeric

Baeric was inspired at the thought of our reading Psalm 51 this week, did some serious research, and wrote for us a very interesting article about interpretation of the Old Testament (and for Psalms in particular), and the application of these principles to Psalm 51.

Please read this before the study if you have time. It's a very interesting article indeed, and will provide us with material to discuss. Baeric will most likely be providing us with a short summary or excerpt during the study.

Paslm 51 - a contribution by Baeric

Often the origins of the bible are forgotten or misunderstood, and we need to focus on the idea that the bible is a jewish book, written by jews, about jews, for jews. The lack of this focus often leads to many misinterpretations through lack of understanding of how the jewish teachers taught and learnt. The teaching mechanisms used are called PARDES meaning garden, and the letters are PRDS: These stand for:

PESHAT : Literal meaning of the words as they are written

REMEZ : Alluding to or hinting at (as YeShua was well known to do with his parables)

DERUSH : Exegesis meaning the use of many scriptures to expound scripture

SODE : The secret meaning that requires much study to find and confirmed in Prov 25:2, Deut 29:29; Isa 55: 8 and 9

Deut 29:29 The secret [things belong] unto the LORD our God: but those [things which are] revealed [belong] unto us and to our children for ever, that [we] may do all the words of this law.

Prov 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings (we are a royal priesthood a holy nation) is to search out a matter. (1 Pet 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people...)

Isa 55:8 and 9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Therein lies a demonstration of REMEZ, DERUSH and SODE.

Psalm 51 is likely the greatest prayer of repentance recorded in the bible. The opening verse speaks of God's lovingkindness and this alludes back to Psalm 36:7 where David writes about the Bathsheba incident too. Psa 36:7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. Here David mentions about the shadow of God's wings. This is a prophetic cameo, of where Malachi writes in verse 4:2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings. The word SUN here is used in REMEZ fashion to indicate the brightness of the sun and that without the sun the world would not be sustainable, and this alludes to the fact that we, the royal priesthood, would not live without Christ, God's son, and He is the light of the world. This verse is alluded to by Christ, in Mat 9:20 where a woman with an issue of blood for twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment. The word hem here, is from the Greek word, kraspedon or the Hebrew tzitzit meaning tassel or fringe. This tassel or fringe, refers to the tassels found on YeShua's prayer shawl. This is commanded in Deut 22:12 and Num 15:37-40.

Deut 22:12 Thou shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture, wherewith thou coverest thyself and in

Num 15:37-40 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.

The prayer shawl comes from the word TALITH meaning little tent, and remember Paul was a tent maker... and he made these shawls. These tassels or the hem, are knotted five times to remind Jews of the five books of Moses. The four spaces between these knots represent the letters of God?s name, YHWH. And the knots along the prayer shawl edges use exactly 613 knotted strings, representing the 613 laws of the Torah. Thus, when David wrote in Psalm 1, he loved the law, he was referring to this prayer shawl, and all it represents.

Psalm 51 is David crying out for mercy and forgiveness for his sinful state, to God. David had Uriah murdered, and slept with Bathsheba. Nathan came and gave David a message from God stating the God knew of David's sin, and in remez style, alludes to the idea that God knew of Adam's sin in the Garden of Eden. Once Nathan had given David this message, David instantly repented from his sins, and thus we have psalm 51. So, before David can repent, there has to be a revelation from God to show that he must repent, and David then has the responsibility to repent. This is a prophetic cameo of where John the Baptist is calling out as a voice from he wilderness to repent and believe. David cries out in verses 3, 4 and 5 out about his transgressions showing that he is aware of the plurality of his sins; crying out about his sins as he has sinned against God only, showing the viral like nature of the sin he committed, and iniquities acknowledging the sinful nature of man, going to his birth to demonstrate the deep roots of sin in his life.

David called out three times, once to God, once to Christ and once to the Holy Spirit. Verse 7 states "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow" and this alludes to the cleansing nature of the Holy Spirit. David cries out to God in verse 10 to create in him a new heart, and to renew his spirit and verse 11 not to remove the Holy Spirit from him, and here we have an early acknowledgement of the existence of the Holy Spirit and to restore him to salvation in verse 12. Thus indicating that salvation is not a permanent state, and that we, through our sin, can divorce ourselves from God, and place ourselves in a place where we need to repent from, and turn back to God. Paul in Romans 12:2 alludes to this when he states that we need to be renewed. David is reaching out to touch the hem to be made whole and complete, by seeking the healing in His wings.

God acknowledged that David was a man after His own heart, meaning that as soon as David knew and realised his sin, he repented immediately without hesitation. This represents how we ought to be living our daily Christian walk. To be so in touch with God, that we are constantly reaching out to touch and be covered by the healing in God's wings. Psalm 51 is prophetic of the gospel message, to repent, and believe, to seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

AMEN

Monday, March 23, 2009

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Eternal Perspectives (Randy Alcorn's blog): Longing for God and Joy, from Augustine

“Thou hast made us for Thyself O God, and the heart of man is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.”

We just discussed Psalm 63 and longing for God.

Here is some good material for thinking about longing for God - I thought of Augustine when considering the thought of loneliness. Randy Alcorn here addresses Augustine's notion of the restless heart longing for God, which never finds peace until it finds such in God. This is a very important notion in Augustine's thought in general, and has itself become an important stream in theology.

There are moments that I feel lonely and isolated, but after thought and meditation, realize that part of this - is simply longing for God - and when I recognize this - it allows me to follow my longing for God into thanks, praise, and joy. Here, loneliness ... can ... lead to joy.

Eternal Perspectives (Randy Alcorn's blog): Longing for God and Joy, from Augustine

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A quick response to Shane Hipps

Shane Hipps is an expert on digital media and spirituality, author of Flickering Pixels.

He was interviewed recently at the National Pastor's Convention in San Diego, discussing "virtual community" and "Second Life Church."

In this video, Shane says that "virtual community" is not really community because it does not have:
1. shared history - establishes identity & belonging
2. permanence - matters because it's "how you tget shared history" - transient communities don't have it
3. proximity - "you have to be with one another"

What it tends to have is: shared imagination of the future (much easier in virtual than in real life community).

Shane here is largely right in criticizing virtual community - his criticisms also describe problems with many ministries inside Second Life. I do believe, however, that our own ministry shows that the above three are very much possible. These points actually are very close to my own thoughts on why online community is often so impoverished, and reflect some of the goals I think we were trying to achieve.

I won't be able to address all, nor anything in detail, but in the video Shane singles out "shared history."

We do have a shared history, since we are primarily a community of "regulars" - people who have been coming together since September, in contact with one another usually more than once a week. In particular, we have that shared history by praying together with people and seeing the progress that they make in life. We see moments that we've come together with people, and seen them either accept Christ at that moment, or come back and tell us how they've accepted Christ. We've had special moments of prayer for people, and followed up ... and heard how they are doing in life.

We've seen people "open up" who previously battled insecurities which made it difficult to relate to people.

This is much more than thinking about "that time that guy posted that thing on the site" when we think of our shared history - they are moments when we were together, acting, speaking, observing. Just a few days ago I had a discussion with one of our members, starting with ... "remember when we were sitting in a skybox together with Able, and Kay came by?" ... We were discussing such a difference - how she, at that moment, showed that she had gotten over certain insecurities, compared to other times when she had been with us. Events in SL are quite memorable, and do establish a shared history ... sometimes positive ... and sadly, often very negative as well.

Here, as so often in Second Life, I would say that prayer is key in "breaking through" the barrier of the virtual, so we are reaching out not to avatars, but to "real people," in community.

Shane says SL is like Televangelism in its "disembodiment" of the gospel - he first mentions televangelism, and then radio, and calls Second Life a "disembodiment on steriods" - "utterly detached from your physical experience of life and reality."

Here he makes a mistake. First of all, he is comparing Second Life to two types of broadcasting. Our own Second Life ministry is not primarily about broadcasting, but conversation. Not one message sent out to zillions of people, but people interacting and inspiring one another in the Word.

I think that he is right when it comes to problems of disembodiment in coporate worship - that corporate worship can be done in SL, but that it misses something we have with the real life Eucharist.

There is indeed a big problem with continuity and permanence in many Second Life ministries I've seen - I've often thought of trying to bring sim leaders together more to try to address this - help one another when someone is about to "drop out" of ministry for whatever reason - find someone who can learn about the ministry on time, take part, and transition into it. Shane's criticisms are indeed valid for many Second Life ministries.

But I do believe that our own ministry shows that this type of "community" is indeed possible.

There are also some other ministries in SL which, I believe, also have this kind of shared history.

I think that one weakness here is seeing Second Life ministry as part of the general paradigm of "website ministry / community." The communities in Second Life do bear some similarities to forum boards - but some critical differences - and these differences are a great help to community permanence and history, and proximity, if the medium is approached in an informed manner. But his thoughts here are valuable in sharpening my own - I do believe too many SL ministries think in terms of the "website ministry" model. When we are dealing with Second Life, we really need to step away from thinking of a "website" and embrace more of the actual concerns we have with "real life" ministry involving time and space - since events in SL occur in "real time" - in a spatio-temporal format. Space and time are much more important in community - and as a result, other things, like considering what should be said where - are crucial. It's also much more important that we have designated "leaders" and that these leaders reflect Christ and what Christ teaches. Second Life is much more like traditional "incarnate ministry" than typical virtual community website ministry. Allowing one's self the latitudes one might on a website - a published meduim - causes problems in SL.

I don't wish to criticize Shane here, since I haven't read his book and do not know his full thoughts on the matter. However, I do think it's important to point out that this one important hallmark of community - shared history - can indeed occur in Second Life ministry if it is planned well and carried out responsibly.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

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Next week: Psalm 51

Do give Psalm 51 another read as part of your Lenten meditation.

While you're at it ... find it on youtube ... the most famous version is the Miserere by Alleghri.

If you have thoughts ... or find good vids ... feel free to post in the comments below.

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Praying for each other during the week

Please see the important note at the bottom of this page.

I've been thinking of a way we can keep up with prayer requests during the week, and encourage one another to join in prayer requests.

One way would be to just add comments to the prayer article each time it's posted ... another way is twitter.

Twitter is basically a way that people keep track of each other - what they're doing, thoughts, some conversations. What's typical in twitter, though, is people having 90 people they are "following" - so they get lots and lots and lots of updates.

I'd like something we can use that's really concentrated just on our prayer requests.

Would you like to give this a run? Go to http://www.twitter.com

Make an account that is for prayer only. If you already have an account, make a new one (well, you don't have too - you can get your feet wet by just "following" us if you want) - or the page of your current account won't just be our prayers, but all the other stuff too. Mine is called WilfriedPrays ... something like that might work for you.

What we really want to avoid is ... that we're "talking to everyone and no one" - what is sometimes said of twitterers. Here ... we are praying for each other ... and with each other ... audience is just us, and were not distracted by zillions of others.

If you don't want the whole internet to be able to see your prayer requests, be sure that when you sign up, you select "protect my updates."

Then ... go to http://www.twitter.com/WilfriedPrays
Click on "follow." I'll approve your request ... and then ask if I can follow you as well. You will get my prayer requests ... I'll get yours. All the people you allow to "follow" you will be able to see your "updates" - your prayer requests, or the prayers you type for other people while you pray for them.

Other people to add immediately:
http://twitter.com/AblePrays
http://twitter.com/HelenePrays
I'll "twitter along" people as they add themselves, so I'll be informing everyone to add you so they can pray for you.

Some extra info: Twitter only allows you to type 140 chars or so in an update. If you want to type a longer prayer than 140 characters when praying for someone ... just put a comment in the prayer thread at the Bible study site. You can link it in your "tweet" (your status update) - go to http://tinyurl.com and create a "tiny" url for the link, and use that url - otherwise the link will probably be too long.

This may or may not work well for us. But we won't know if we don't try! We might also want to just use the comments in the prayer threads ... disadvantage here is that they are "public" - everyone sees them. Big advantage of Twitter is you get your prayers all in one place, so you don't have to go looking for the thread on the site.

When you sign up, consider putting http://anglicanecumenicalbiblestudy.blogspot.com in your profile url so you can get easily back to the bible study site from Twitter, and remember to look at it every now & then & leave comments on the stuff we're reading / we read!

Important note: This will only really work effictively if you have an account that is ONLY for following other people who pray, and ONLY use twitter for that purpose. It won't work if you also sign up other people ... and make "tweets" like others, "I'm having a boring day / I'm back at the office" etc. etc.. The purpose of this is for your twitter account to be a virtual sacred space, a space set apart from prayer - and if you send out promotional tweets, or just about what you are doing, these will also be tweeted out to all the people who are following you in the context of prayer.

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Prayer requests March 21

Irene: Thanksgiving and praise for Joe's continued healing. Family relationships need to be healed in my own family.

Helene: or wisdom and guidance as I put together the report the DDO wants me to do before I can go further on my journey. That I might bring glory to God through this paper.

Jacques: Darcy, a friend in rl and in sl who has a problem with the bottle,

Wilfried: for strength in a very tough week working out financials and work, extra prayers next few days please ;)

Able: for a friend of mine whose curacy 'package' is still up in the air - made complicated by a part time curacy / secular posting

Joycelyn: Thanksgiving and praise for mom's rapid recovery and helping her to accept her need to use a walker full time and for my healing too :)). and with everything falling into place nicely so sure work will be soon too .

link to blog catalog

Friday, March 20, 2009

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Psalm 63

This Saturday we'll be studying Psalm 63.

Some materials on it for your consideration:
Dr. Bill Long discusses Psalm 63 and the theme of longing for God - he wrote a book on this topic, and its first chapter was about this psalm.

And here is someone who simply puts it into her own words. This is a good exercise in studying any scripture. A second step can be in asking, "How do I obey this? How should I respond to this Scripture?" A man in New York whose lectionary prayer materials I like does this regularly with lectionary texts, by responding to each verse with prayers to God. Here are the prayers he formulates for Psalm 63.

You can read more thoughts about this kind of Bible study in Paul Watson's thoughts on Three Column Bible Studies.

Musical resources:
A setting of this psalm by Henry Purcell here
A gospel choir singing it here
A Coptic (!) teeny praise band singing it in Ontario, here

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Prayer requests March 15

Sorry for taking so long to get these up, I forgot! Most of you will have gotten them already on the notecard.

Able: Thanksgiving to God for answered prayer, and healing from difficult past experiences.

Saskia: That God would guard and protect her especially over the next 5 weeks, and that she might be hedged around by angels with Christ at her side.

Loo: For her to know God's closeness, guidance and blessing and that she might be led to a place of peace and blessing.

ZoeRose: I ask prayers for my sister who is looking to get full custody of her son.

Zenia: Thank you Lord for this day and all thease good people to gather together in your name and with your word to give us strength to be reminded each day and Night you are Rightous and watching over us; For the land Owner here to allow us to come back even though she is a Non Believer ;-)

Joyous: for my rl church as we go through a visioning process that we may be led in God's way. for myself, guidance in what I should be doing wiith my life

Wilf: That I will calmly be obedient to what God wants of me.

Baeric: That the letter of acceptance to uni comes through

Allie: for my family for Nathan and Joel two young men I know who are off for a 6 month mission.... for me to accept grace

Joycelyn: that I am working again oon and have strengthened me enough to go forward and live/grow life again - also please pray for the health of Joycelyn's mom

Helene: I ask for peace as Monday approaches and on the day. I would like the grace to receive the news of whether the diocesan interviewers have said yes or no.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

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Prayer Plans

We would like to get together more for prayer. There are two things we'd like to do:

1) start a prayer gathering sometime mid-week.

This would probably need to be on some day, between Monday and Friday (but not Wednesday), after 1PM SLT (and maybe as late as 3PM), or else during lunch break US time.

I've already had some people tell me times they can come on a notecard, but not everyone wrote their names next to those times. If you can make it to the Bible study this Saturday, please let me know then which days / times you'd be able to come

Please be in prayer about this new development - for discernment for the group, Able, and myself.

2) help people in getting together in prayer triplets or quadruplets

You can get to know people more deeply, share more specific / personal things, and grow spiritually better if you are in a small group of 3-4 people that meets weekly to discuss how things have been going, and pray for one another.

Please pray about this as well and consider whether you'd like to be part of a prayer triplet.

Monday, March 9, 2009

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Psalm 1

This Saturday we'll be reading and studying Psalm 1 together.

I'll be posting some resources here; if you have some of your own, feel free to post them.

Music-related (either music, or material by musicians - not all equally talented):

We were especially blessed to have Zenia Underwood with us singing Psalm 1. What a blessing to have someone who's set this piece to her own music help us praise God! Here is a youtube video of her singing it at Church of the Living God.

A lot of these links look very "home-made" & quite amateurish - especially the kids doing the rap, and the couple singing this psalm. I actually kind of like that - ordinary people bringing to God their praise, and letting this psalm inspire them.

Some nuns singing this psalm at Bigorski Monastery

Soul-junk singing Psalm 1 - This is a link to a part of a radio program - link will "buffer" up to the Soul-junk song - and then continue to play the radio program. I can't really speak for the radio program itself, since I haven't listened to it - guy starts out talking about not really enjoying Catholic church as a kid. Oh well. I didn't always enjoy protestant church as a kid. But the Soul-junk rendition is worth hearing - kinda folksy - these people have apparently done a lot of the psalms (guy claims they've done them ALL).

A setting by Thomas Tallis
- Note, only the first bit - before the first pause - is from Psalm 1. The whole piece is just a collection of tunes from various psalms - the choir here sings with only short pauses - doesn't help the clarity.

Video of a devotional on Psalm 1 by a guy from the Casting Crowns - I think actually one of our members knows someone who knows this guy - the Casting Crowns are, I believe, one of the most popular Christan bands at the moment, and apparently they also teach the Bible. Very cool combo. I hear that they have pretty cool bands that open for them, too. Here's part two and part three. It sounds like Psalm 1 is one of the favorite Psalms of these guys and that it's inspired them a lot.

A setting by Krzesimir Debski
- contemporary classical, choir & orchestra - reminds me of Francis Poulenc but more grungey - I won't be buying the CD.

Some brightly-clad women dancing some kind of Israeli dance to an Israeli setting of this psalm

A woman (Kim Hill) singing this accompanied by a plunkey-sounding synthesizer

Rastafarian version of Psalm 1 - Prince Far I


Dude with a funny way of wearing a bandana

Kids doing a rap with this psalm in the background

A guy & his wife singing this ... wife looks like she might not have been such a willing recruit for singing in front of the camera - still, nice they can praise God together.

Monday, March 2, 2009

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Lenten reading of the Gospel of Mark



This Saturday at 1PM SLT, we will read through the Gospel of Mark in its entirety, at Fairhaven Chapel.

Come join us to hear this reading of the Gospel by members of the Anglican Ecumenical Bible Study, as the concluding event of our study of this gospel. Enrich your Lenten rededication to God though attentive listening to the life and words of Christ as recorded by Mark the evangelist.

Fairhaven Chapel is located at http://slurl.com/secondlife/Fairhaven/100/150/29/

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Saturday: reading the Gospel of Mark

Saturday is our reading of the Gospel of Mark for all who would like to come - at 1PM SLT. Please arrive about half an hour early - at 12:30 - if you can - for a bit of organization. I'll be sending out a notice with a poster attached, that gives invitations and landmarks. On the invitation there's also a link so you can get a copy of the poster itself ... so people who get the invitations can also put out the posters if they want to.

Greetings in Christ! I really look forward to reading the book of Mark with you!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

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Prayer requests 1 March

Baeric: funding for masters degree in Septemebr to be released to me

Joyous: For my Commission on Ministry meeting on Tuesday, that I may make an appropriate contribution

Joycelyn: For mom to improve her outlook and somehow become realistic in her expectations of others. For me to be working yesterday with the right job :)

Irene: Continue lifting up Joe and Phyllis for healing and comfort of the Holy Spirit.

Helene: For guidance as to how to run my classes. They are growing and I need to find a new way to work and new staff so the children get a good experience. This is new territory for me.

Adam: my sister's husband bill and family- he is suffering from leukemia and has a bone marrow transplant in april

Able: for strength and wisdom for studies during a particularly stressy time

Wilf: Guidance and obedience in getting life things together

Saturday, February 21, 2009

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Prayer requests 22 February

Dracona - a friend of mine Carol in Florida... is in hospital with a tumour and needs strength and healing and ask for clarity, wisdom, and willingness to finish my studies

Baeric - applied to Leeds Uni for a masters degree, and so I am looking to get financail aid for that...that the aid is ready and able to come is my request. To study CyberLaw

for Liliana. For God's closeness and healing presence.

Able - That God would open the eyes of my heart and bless me with wisdom

Sas - for constancy of hope and peace

Irene - Continue to lift up Phyllis and Joe - he is not doing well. And please keep me lifted up for peace and not giving in to the stress of the moment.

Joycelyn - Guidance, purpose, healing and strength as well as work yesterday!

Joyous - Guidance in what directions should be taking in life as it unfolds.

Wilfried - Guidance, strength, obedience ... help getting my "life" together

Helene - peace while waiting for decision regarding next step in ministry

Friday, February 20, 2009

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about the Bach Bible

We've been making a few comments on Bach's St. Matthew passion during the passion part of our reading of the passion part of Mark, since apparently one of our members associates the passion story with this work ...

It's sometimes doubted as to whether Bach had any faith at all ... he wrote for both the Lutheran church, as well as the Catholic church (his famed Mass in b minor).

In 1934, a Lutheran minister found a bible in his cousin's barn ... here's a video about it and a wikipedia entry about this bible.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

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Prayers 15 February

Irene: Praise for the continued healing of my friend Joe...they removed his breathing tube! Peace for my daughter and her husband, Bob.

Wilfried: for focus on my work and things I have to do.

Johnnie: continue prayer for hours at work to stabilize, regular hours, consistant, not 10 one week and one 40 hours

Saskia: for guidance and knowledge

Able: Son (sick) gets better AND focus for work (exam coming up).

Joyous: For my friend Richard, who is still suffering results of an auto accident. That he regain health and courage

Adam: for my brother in law and family- he has leukemia

Helene: for guidance and peace while waiting for decision regarding ordination process

Joycelyn: for a good job - for stabilizing of her mother's health

Monday, February 9, 2009

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One impression of the book of Mark

A Catholic clergyman reads through the book of Mark in one go: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article5679078.ece

Sunday, February 8, 2009

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Prayer requests week of Feb 8, 2009

Note: please pray * especially * for Adam and Charlie this week.

Adam: pray for his family; his brother-in-law was just diagnosed with leukemia and the family is struggling with this.

Charlie: Please Pray for me as Margarita and I are going through a rough time as we re-assess our relationship. She just wants to be friends, So I am feeling a great loss of love.

Able: Focus in working through current commitments and space to come before God with things I feel burdened by

Sas:
a) That she would know that the present direction she believes God is leading her in is right, and that she will be doing what God wants her to do

b) That she might know the right course to begin in September, and in that it will fit around family commitments and that funding / support might become available

c) A return to focus in spirituality / devotions

Joycelyn: would very much like to be working full time, and thankful that all SL is helping me with. thanks for mom's helath improving too

Joyous: Guidance on where I should be putting my time and energies.

Helene: Peace as I wait for the next interview. An acceptance of God's will.

Irene: Not sure how to phrase my request. I had words with my daughter and would like swift reconcilliation. And a blessing on our little business that it might not become a source of contention within the family.

Wilf: Peace, focus, freedom from anxiety to get work & other things done - is quite crucial.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

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Tom Wright on corporate Bible reading & ecumenism

Bishop Wright visits a Catholic synod of bishops & discusses the place of reading the Bible together in ecumenism:

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/features/f0000362.shtml

Saturday, January 31, 2009

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Prayer requests, 31 January

Joyous: For guidance. And that I may make a contribution on the vestry

Helene: I have at least two diocesan interviews this week coming - it's all becoming very 'real' - so peace would be good - wisdom, honesty

Irene: Wisdom for David's doctors and for my son-in-law that his doctors will have wisdom and be able to accurately diagnose his illness.

Saskia: For a youth event that we are tryin to organise in our community, that everything comes together and that we are not aiming to big with it. And also that God will show me where he wants me to be and from September.

Able: For focus, and clarity in drawing up a couple of alternative proposals for my dissertation.

Joycelyn: For mom's health to continue to immprove, my house to be sold quickly, and for me to both get an unemployment extension and to find suitable and local full time employment with benefits soon.

Wilfried: For my job, and for getting my things order

Allie: for my parents and my work

Messianerin: for a new job