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Messages - J. Thomas Shelley

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1
Your Turn / Re: Recent Surpreme Court Decision Concerning Churches
« on: Yesterday at 05:49:29 PM »
J. Thomas Shelley writes:
I distinctly recall the late March press conference when the occupant of the oval office expressed a hope that this nation could be reopened in time for Western Easter.

I comment:
And you weren't surprised that he knew when Easter was, and - if he actually referred to Western Easter - that he knew there could be a difference between Western and Eastern celebrations?
I think he was actually referring to the Easter shopping season, maybe the traveling that would bring paying customers to his resorts.

I should have placed "Western" within brackets.  The President simply said "Easter"

2
Your Turn / Re: Recent Surpreme Court Decision Concerning Churches
« on: Yesterday at 05:17:20 PM »
Spiritual burdens donít matter to those currently calling the shots from the oval office.

I distinctly recall the late March press conference when the occupant of the oval office expressed a hope that this nation could be reopened in time for Western Easter.

A few days later those hopes were dashed when "15 days to flatten the curve" was replaced by "30 days to stop the spread."



















3
Your Turn / Re: Recent Surpreme Court Decision Concerning Churches
« on: November 29, 2020, 11:18:14 PM »
There is some sort of bizarre phobia about contagion involved with the idea that we need to so obsessive about having an antiseptic environment.

My former congregation became obsessed with the notion that they could "keep everyone safe" as Pennsylvania reopened.

The Lord's Supper was the first casualty.  There was no way to administer it "at this time" and "keep everyone safe".

After nearly nine months of Sacramental starvation in late December there will at last be a service at which folks "who choose to do so" may take one of those prefilled coffee-creamer style "Remembrance" thingys with their bulletin and then partake at the proper time at the direction of the supply pastor.

Strangely, I can't conceive of a manger in a stable being an antiseptic environment.

4
Your Turn / Re: And a beautiful Advent I Liturgy
« on: November 29, 2020, 01:19:00 PM »
Actually, itís kind of slide for us too into Advent, since last Sunday we heard the parable of the ten virgins and sang ďWake, Awake.Ē The theme of the end has really been largely with us all of November. The way Iíve often characterized it is that Western Advent guides us gently out of the medieval moorings of chiefly preparation for doomís day (Dies irae) toward the early Churchís chiefly eager anticipation of the Appearing. St. Martinís Lent kind of embraces the whole of that seasonal slide.

William Willamon et al postulated that there is truly grand cycle "From Hope to Glory" beginning with Western All Saints' through Epiphany...that phrase became the title of a Cokesbury book offering liturgical resource for the greater season(s).

Incidentally, the Parable of the Wise Virgins is the Orthros Gospel for the Feast of St. Katherine the Great Martyr on November 25 which is also the leave-taking of the Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos.  The hymnody for the Entrance--repeated that day--makes reference to the virgins bearing their lamps who accompanied the three year old Mary as she approached the Temple.

5
Your Turn / Re: And a beautiful Advent I Liturgy
« on: November 29, 2020, 12:54:17 PM »
For the Orthodox, the Church Year is characterized by gentle, hyrostatic glides between the seasons rather than by sudden shifts.

After the 10th day of the Nativity Fast which began on November 15, we begin to sing the lovely Kontakion of the PreFeast of the Nativity.

So today was the first Sunday for its use, sung antiphonally between the chanter and the choir.

6
Your Turn / Re: Recent Surpreme Court Decision Concerning Churches
« on: November 28, 2020, 10:32:46 PM »
When the various powers that be utterly failed to condemn the mass protests, they forfeit the right to condemn worship services. All they really showed is that socio-political power is their religion, and their religion must have free reign even in a pandemic. Itís just everyone elseís that can be compromised, what with the health emergency and all.

The new shutdown order in Los Angeles specifically excludes religious services and protests--apparently taking the cue from the recent Supreme Court decision but extrapolating to say "If freedom of religion warrants an exclusion from the regulation, so does freedom of speech."

I noted that with heartfelt thanksgiving....and likewise the header that these orders are "temporary".

All of the Department of Health edicts in Pennsylvania have been issues sans expiration/reevaluation dates...although as part of the legacy of William Penn's "holy experiment" religious service have been exempt from capacity limits and stay at home orders from day one; a point overlooked by many hierarchs.

7
Your Turn / Re: St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent
« on: November 28, 2020, 04:48:18 PM »
Bump for the Vesperal beginning of Western Advent, A.D. 2020.

Sunday morning should be brilliantly bright in southern Pennsylvania. not so for the Feast.

May we who sit under the pall of pestilence and the dark death find blessings from Him Who is the Dayspring from on High:  A renewed hope, a deepened joy, and an abiding love.

8
Your Turn / Re: Check out the online articles section
« on: November 28, 2020, 12:13:09 AM »
When you sign on, it shows you all the unread articles no matter where they are, does it not?

It shows which fora have unread posts and what single article within that category had the most recent post.

9
Your Turn / Re: Check out the online articles section
« on: November 27, 2020, 11:08:03 PM »
Honestly, until "Recent Articles" gains traction it seems a shame to bury such excellent writings in a section which draws few views since most of the "recent posts" are in "your turn".

I habitually check the recent posts first, and sometimes click onto "your turn" from that listing.

Very seldom do I go to the overall "Forum" directory.

That is not always the case:  When there are Judicatory meeting reports my scanning may include the Forum directory to check for new material.   I'll use this occasion offer a shout out to Richard Johnson for his excellent coverage of ELCA CWAs.

10
Your Turn / Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« on: November 26, 2020, 07:36:06 PM »
I've always thought it terribly ironic that the descendants of those Pilgrims morphed into some of the groups that strayed farthest from orthodox Christianity--the Unitarians, of course, and what is today the UCC (which, we used to joke, means "Unitarians Considering Christ").

And so tragic that the Germanic Evangelical and Reformed Church merged with them.  The voices of Nevin and Schaff have all but been silenced.   Thankfully Schaff's translation of the Ante and Post Nicean Fathers remain the gold standard for English Patristic study.

11
Your Turn / Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« on: November 26, 2020, 03:23:39 PM »
I simply want us to remember that those Puritans came here to find religious freedom for themselves, not necessarily to grant it to anyone else. Thatís how we got Rhode Island, when Roger Williams Got thrown out of the Massachusetts Bay colony because he sought religious freedom, to dissent from the beliefs of the established church.
Indeed.

Which made William Penn's "holy experiment" in the middle colonies so unique, the keystone between Puritan/Congregationalist establishmentarianism in New England and Anglican establishmentarianism in Virginia and points south.

12
Your Turn / Re: Rev. Paul T. McCain, RIP
« on: November 26, 2020, 01:08:07 PM »
Blessed are You, O Lord, teach me Your statutes.

The choir of Saints has found the fountain of life and the door of Paradise. May I also find the way through repentance. I am the sheep that is lost: O Savior, call me back and save me.

Blessed are You, O Lord, teach me Your statutes.

Of old You created me from nothing and honored me with Your divine image. But when I disobeyed Your commandment, O Lord, You cast me down to the earth from where I was taken. Lead me back again to Your likeness, and renew my original beauty.

Blessed are you, O Lord, teach me Your statutes.


I am an image of Your ineffable glory, though I bear the scars of my transgressions. On Your creation, Master, take pity and cleanse me by Your compassion. Grant me the homeland for which I long and once again make me a citizen of Paradise.

Blessed are You, O Lord, teach me Your statutes.


Give rest, O God, to Your servant, and place him in Paradise where the choirs of the Saints and the righteous will shine as the stars of heaven. To Your departed servant give rest, O Lord, and forgive all his offenses.

Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.


The threefold radiance of the one God let us praise, and let us shout in song: Holy are You, eternal Father, coeternal Son, and divine Spirit! Illumine us who worship You in faith and deliver us from the eternal fire.

Now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Rejoice, gracious Lady, who for the salvation of all gave birth to God in the flesh, and through whom the human race has found salvation. Through you, pure and blessed Theotokos, may we find Paradise.

Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. Glory to You, O God
Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. Glory to You, O God
Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. Glory to You, O God

With the Saints give rest, O Christ, to the soul of Your servant where there is no pain, nor sorrow, nor suffering, but life everlasting.


13
Your Turn / Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
« on: November 26, 2020, 12:08:18 PM »
If I am recalling correctly, in both the LCA and the ALC, the German component was actually larger than the Swedish and Norwegian components respectively.

The German component of the LCA endured into the late 19th/early 20th centuries and the "language wars" were an unfortunate part of that history.

There are numerous congregations named "First English" as part of that legacy.  Chambersburg PA and Columbia PA (now defunct) are the first ones which come to mind.

14
Your Turn / Re: Lutheran ethnic origins
« on: November 26, 2020, 11:22:22 AM »
The LCA included Augustana (Swedish origen), Danes, Finns (Suomi Synod) and ULCA (German and others). Check the book by E. Clifford Nelson for details.

The ULCA's oldest antecedant was the Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Surrounding States established in the 18th century by Halle missionary Henry Mechior Muhlenberg.   

There are other ethnicities among the branch roots but the taproot is German to the core!

15
On-line Articles / Re: Thanksgiving 2020
« on: November 25, 2020, 07:31:07 AM »
Excellent, Pastor Speckard...more glittering gems than a tiara.

As absent as the hearth is the family tree. The multiple generations of Thanksgiving have been compressed by lopping off the ends. No ancestors or descendants here. The people in this scene are all roughly the same age, or at least of the same generation. They are not newbies, but theyíre young enough to be ascending the career ladder, more at home among college students than among retirees. The picture expresses no filial piety toward some old man, or mandatory patience for some pouty preteen. It depicts no excited little girls wanting to hold the baby. There are no heirlooms on the table or old family recipes on the menu.

There is much for which I am thankful in these days; chief among which is that in a few minutes I will once again join those of the (mostly) Hellenic tree to which I have been grafted in recalling one of our spiritual ancestors, Katherine the Great Martyr of Alexandria.

The Holy Table will be set with the finest vessels, heirlooms of this community as we follow the rubrical recipe that has endured for more than fifteen centuries.

Quote
Praise Him with the sound of trumpet; praise Him with the harp and lyre.

Katherine, the all-lauded Martyr,
as we keep the all-sacred feast
of your contest and martyrdom,
with voices incessant we glorify the Master,
who bestowed upon you patient endurance to the end,
and who exalted you as victorious,
and gave you words of wisdom to defeat the impious orators.
He is Jesus, our Lord and God
and the Savior who loves mankind.

--Stichera from the Praises, Fourth Tone

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