Monday, October 27, 2008

The Vote A Week Away!

In just 8 days our nation will be choosing a new President; a very important decision as you well know. Whomever you choose to vote for is for you to decide. I would urge you to vote - however you choose to - vote your conscience and vote for whomever you believe is right for our country - but vote!

Let me just say as a veteran who served our country and proudly defended our freedoms, I have always held in the back of my own conscience the many, many, who died to make sure we have that right. Believe it or not, our system of government is still the envy of the world and most of the world aches for the right to have a say in their government like we have. To have this right and not to exercise it - to me is as close to a deliberate sin as I can imagine even though there is no "biblical" mandate to vote.

That we will be choosing a new President you well know, as I said above. And I have my own personal reasons for voting my conscience; however, as a Priest and Pastor I will never ever publically endorse one candidate over another from the pulpit or otherwise. That being the case, as I have to say I will never publically endorse a candidate I DO feel obligated to speak out on moral issues - and there is a BIG one our ballot this time! Proposition 8.

Much has been written and said in the papers about Prop. 8 and I wouldn't presume to be able to summarize them all. Having read the actual text of the proposed new law - the ONLY thing this initiative does is to ensure the California State Constitution states (and I quote from the actual text of the Proposition):
SEC. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

Those in opposition to Proposition 8 want to "redefine" marriage to mean “between two people”. Marriage is between a man and a woman. Period. That's what it is. This is NOT an issue of civil rights as we are meant to believe. Gay and Lesbian Couples have every civil right available to them already. They cannot be denied legal rights of shared ownership, medical access to partners, and any other "benefit" a traditional "married couple" has. In terms of "civil rights" I do absolutely believe they have the "right" to live in "Domestic Partnerships" should they choose to do so; but they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us. I believe their choices unwise and unbiblical BUT they have that right. But don't call it a "marriage."

I do believe this is a moral issue because even as Jesus speaks on the issue of divorce (in Matthew 9:3-6) He speaks of us being created as male and female, and "what God has joined let no one separate." These are familiar words from the Marriage Service itself. For these reasons I believe we should vote Yes on Prop. 8.

My immediate apologies to those who believe a pastor or priest should never speak out on politics – this is my blog not the pulpit.

I have a high regard (as you know) for Pastor Rick Warren. Below you will find some comments that he sent me today with a link to a very short video clip. I commend them to you as I agree with him and could not have said what he says any better.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Feeling a bit like Luke Skywalker...

This just in from the rumor mill...

I understand that today the "Episcopal" Standing Committee is meeting today in Fresno to Inhibit all of us rogue clergy - yes, all of us in the "Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin" who are now part of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. This "rumor" comes from +Jerry Lamb himself according to his webpage on the Episcopal San Joaquin Website. On it he says (dated 10/10/08):

"Friday of next week the Standing Committee meets in Fresno... The Standing Committee will also begin the canonical process of the Abandonment of Communion for those clergy who left the Episcopal Church and have aligned themselves with the Southern Cone or some other body. Clergy so charged will be inhibited, not allowed to function as an Episcopal Priest or be employed in an Episcopal Church. The clergy person has six months to recant and return to the Episcopal Church. At the end of the six months, the person will be removed from the ministry of this church. This action implies no moral judgment of an individual clergy person. It speaks only about the person’s relationship to the Episcopal Church. The person can of course function in another church that may recognize their ordination."

To be honest, this is something I expected would come much sooner than it has. Perhaps what is really driving all of this is that "inhibited clergy" don't count when it comes to achieving a quorum for Diocesan Convention in Hanford (of which they will be holding at the same time as our genuine Convention in Fresno next Friday and Saturday.

Be that as it may, I find it completely ironic that the Bishop who saw me through seminary, ordained me to both the Diaconate and Priesthood, and who watched me triple the size and assessment of my first parish in his diocese... will be the same Bishop to inhibit and eventually depose me for - of all things - Abandoning the Communion.

All of this reminds me of the confrontation between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back. Like Vader, +Lamb holds out his hand saying, "Join me... and together we can put an end to this destructive conflict!" Of course all of this happens while holding a charged lightsabre at Luke's chest. Regardless of the "relationship" between them, Luke won't be fooled in to forgetting the evil Vader really represents, as he says, "I'll never join you!"

Perhaps that comparison seems a bit harsh, but let's be honest. What the Episcopal leadership is doing is evil. They have denied the divinity of Jesus Christ, denied the necessity of the Atonement, denied the Holy Spirit inspiration of the Bible.... They have turned against and ignored their own Canon Laws to depose faithful Bishops, and are just pent on removing faithful orthodox believers from their parish churches through legal suits - even though TEC has never given any of them a dime to purchase or maintain their properties. Does any of that sound Gospel to you? It doesn't to me either.

Even more ironic is the fact that historically TEC has failed to deal with those who really denied the Christian Faith - like Bishops Pike, Spong, and Righter along with others. Yet, it is simply those who have and are standing fast on the tenets of Christian Faith who are now being inhibited and deposed.

So here's to feeling a bit like Luke Skywalker! TEC may think like Darth Vader, "You are beaten... it is useless to resist!" Yup. TEC is on the march denying the Gospel all the way around. Even so, the Episcopal Church today isn't the faith I grew up to know. Its not the church I was ordained in. And while TEC is quick to claim that those of us have broken our ordination vows by not acceding to the Canons of the Episcopal Church, that whole promise is nullified when a church abandons believing that the "Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God and to contain everything necessary for salvation." I'll never (re)join you. I will remain a faithful Christian Anglican.

So... let me just say this to Bishop Lamb and TEC: Whatever your actions are today it doesn't mean a thing. I'm not under your authority. I am a priest in good standing within the Anglican Communion under a recognized Bishop (no, bishop, Bishop Schofield has not been deposed!) in a fully functional and viable diocese. Your time would be better spent dealing pastorally with those who agree with you.

May God Bless and Forgive You. May God Bless and Forgive Us All!!!