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What do we mean when we say the Holy Spirit “proceeds” from the Father and the Son? What does “to proceed” mean in this context?

This question popped up on another site,, which I enjoy messing around with.
It gave me a chance to do sort of a theological “geek-out” on the “filioque” clause in the Nicene creed. I enjoy making an attempt at this because it lets me try something really hard in language that is very street-level. And that lets me see what it is I really think. (C.S. Lewis said that “any fool can write ‘learned’ language.” The real test is to see if you can translate the ideas into the everyday speech) Continue reading


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For this Sunday, The Feast of Christ the King

Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords:
Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

In churches such as mine which mark the traditional liturgical calendar, today November 26, is the last Sunday of the Church year. Next Sunday starts the cycle again with the first Sunday of Advent, which is a time we spend thinking about preparation for the coming of Jesus, or rather for 3 different arrivals of Him – in Bethlehem some 2020 years ago, at the end of time, and in this age, into the heart of everyone who opens him or herself to him. A new thing, a new beginning, a new advent.

The year continues through a path of thinking about (and celebrating) various moments in the earthly life of Jesus, through Easter, to His ascension, to the bestowing of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Then (in the main) the focus changes to Jesus through the life of the Church, and of all of us.

But at the end of the year, it is all summed up in today, the feast of Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

In opposite years, we read the same events through different eyes, in different parts of the Bible, but cover the same ground. Over the year (and especially over two years) we pretty well get all the high points. The preacher is supposed to not go “off script(ture) into his own favorite topics except at great need.

I think it is a good system, where we use it.


Lately, I have been needing to acknowledge a lot of death. Not physical, no funerals (and yes, that is a slightly macabre joke, I am a funeral director). But a number of deaths of dreams, of thoughts, of things I believed true. Ending of plans, unfulfilled.
Knowing that they will never come to fruit.

I had intended to write about at least one of them, and I may yet. But not now. Instead, I saw this prayer, Proper 29 for the Sunday of Christ the King. It will be part of most Episcopal church services this morning.

And the way it speaks to me is that it recognizes the “true, but not YET true” nature of many of the good things we see. Many of the Good Things I have proclaimed for years, and whose death I am having to acknowledge. Today, we come to the end.

And yet this END, is a mark that Jesus is indeed King. And that He will indeed bring us together and heal our sin, heal our wounds; it is his goal, his purpose, and He WILL do it.

This ending, today, marks an ending in victory. And it also marks an ending in “not completely YET” – it leads us into the season of Advent – of preparing for, looking for, looking forward to, that next victory – in Jesus, in me, NOW, and beyond that, to His final victory over all things.

But it is a Good Day to remember that no matter what, Christ is victor; and that the light will grow, his advent is around the corner.


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Old Files, and talking to myself

-cleaning up some old files on my computer.
One of the good things about seeing things I wrote a long time ago is that sometimes they apply back to me. Of course, a lot of it is junk, and should NOT rise again to the surface. But sometimes it is good for me to read again. This is one of those.

Continue reading


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On Ascension and Abandonment. Gaps

You would think that after 40 years as an Episcopalian, I would pretty much have this “Liturgical Calendar” thing, the “Church Year” down. But after spending my first formative years as a Southern Baptist, I can still find a surprise or two.

As they say, even a blind squirrel finds SOME acorns.

Today, 25 May 2017 is the Feast of the Ascension. Continue reading

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Find the Music, Sing the Song

1,1,1,5    1,1,5- 

2,5,4,3   2,1,2-

1,1,1,5.  1,1,5-

2,5,4,3   2,2,1-

Four very simple lines of music heard this morning very powerfully brought my former wife to mind.

This little bit was played on the piano with a simple broken chord figure in the bass. It is used in my church as “travelling music” before and after the children’s sermon, while children come to sit with the preacher and then return to their seats. Very quiet, very background; just a few measures to cover the silence. 

The powerful reminder of Stephanie -who is a very fine pianist and piano teacher – is that I couldn’t help contrasting the rather mechanical “music-box” version I heard with the way Stephanie would play it. I mean no disrespect to our organist, who is a fine musician (although not primarily a pianist). Also, the electronic instrument she was playing is hardly capable of capturing the subtle expressiveness available in an natural piano.

But Stephanie has a particular gift, passion, drive and ability for lyric expressiveness. She can take the simplest phrase, like the ones I quoted at the start, and make it sing. I instantly heard what she would have done, and the difference it would make. 

Now when I said it was a gift, I didn’t really mean the ability was a gift to her, she worked hard for it. It is a gift to everyone who hears her.

Contemplating this returned another memory, dating all the way back to High School Choir, where we sang a LOT of Bach chorales. Everyone should. But a frequent feature of that sort of music is that the tenor line (that’s me) will often find a note on which to park, and will pretty much stay there for the rest of the piece. “O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded”  comes to mind.

One of the points drilled into us was that if this line sounds boring, that is our own fault. Perhaps it is that we want to be singers, when we should be learning to be musicians.

Our job was to take that one note, and find all the music in it that could be found, and bring that to the surface. Do it right, and that repeated one note will almost stand as a solo. Then having found the music in that note, sing that song in a way that serves the entire piece.

The problem is not the note. It is my job to find and reveal the music. I have discovered that as one of the great joys of singing “inner voices” in choral harmony. 
And since “music is life,” this must relate to the rest of what I do.

My job, in all the mundane “single repeated note” lines of life, is to find the Music in that line, and proclaim it. Not to demand a more complicated part, where my lack of a musician’s heart can be hidden behind a composer’s many notes, but to find and express the song in THIS line. It’s there. 

Find the music. Sing your song.

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Some Thoughts on “No-Fly / No-Buy”

For decades, for pretty much all my adult life, I have been a pretty standard political conservative. Had high hopes for the “tea party” wing of the party when it started up, even went to a few rallies. Over the last 6 years or so, my enthusiasm has been waning – to the extent that I no longer can call myself a Republican, and have deep suspicion of my own conservative leanings. My knee just doesn’t jerk that way anymore.

 But this is not the place to explore that. Instead, I wanted to comment on the recent/current doings in the House of Representatives, and one contentious idea in particular: that being the proposal that a person who is on a “watch list” or a “no fly” list by ineligible to purchase a firearm. Continue reading

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Sunlight, Compost, and a Reasonable Faith

Time I write at least a little about depression. Not much; the very subject is, well, depressing.

But there have been a few bright spots in it. Occasionally, I still see one.
Those who know me well probably know that I have struggled with a low-grade chronic depression for as long as I can remember. There have been some seasons of relief, and a couple that bordered on suicidal. But as a whole, if the average “emotional temperature” bubbles along at 98.6, I average closer to 90. Sometimes it’s lower, but it is decidedly above room temperature. And I am happy about that…
… at least most of the time. Continue reading

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