Category Archives: Bloggers

The liturgical year

Advent 2 – Sunday

Rev. Bill Cwirla from a LCMS parish in the USA recently published a response to an iMonk request for thoughts on the liturgical year. This is probably one of the better ways of describing the liturgical year that I’ve seen anywhere in print or online.

You might think of church year in terms of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  (I thank John Pless for this, though I’m not certain it originates with him.)  The season of Advent/Christmas/Epiphany is the season of the Father who sends the Son on His mission of incarnation to save the world from Sin and Death.  The season of Lent/Easter/Ascension is the season of the Son, who lays down His life and takes it up again as the sacrificial Lamb and Savior.  The season of Pentecost is the season of the Holy Spirit, who is the breath and life of the Church as the Body of Christ in discipling mission to the world.

The church year is an annual pilgrimage, beginning with the anticipation of Christ’s coming in glory (Advent), going through His incarnation (Christmas) and manifestation (Epiphany), contemplating our sinfulness (Lent) in view of Christ’s sacrifice (Good Friday), His victory over death (Easter), His ascension to glory at the right hand of the Father by which our humanity is glorified in Him (Ascension), and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the last days (Pentecost) as we wind our way to the Last Day and the consummation of all things.  In other words, the entire work of our justification and sanctification in Christ is rehearsed every year – from incarnation to glorification.

Readers from EMP of this blog will see one general point of disappointment/annoyance that I have with CMCA (as a whole) down in the comments section of that link above. It’s not a biggie, but it’s one that’s bugged me since 2002 when I first got a hold of my grandfather’s copy of the United Methodist Book of Worship (1960’s edition). At least I’m getting my liturgical year fix now on a weekly basis (or more if I hit St. John’s during the week). I blame my introduction to the world of Benedictine spirituality in 2005 that accelerated my discontent, self-searching, discovery and observation of the church year (and through that, an appreciation of broader Protestant [primarily Lutheran and Anglican], Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic views on the church year and theology).

On a slightly more worldly note, I’ve finally found a good tailor in Brisbane CBD. And another good place to go to obtain business menswear (that isn’t any of the department stores). The Cloakroom is one such place. And Andrew, the proprietor of the business, was an absolute joy in making sure that my recently tailored white business shirt arrived the way I wanted it to look. Complete with a monogram of my initials on the left cuff that was a beautiful little touch (not to mention a personalized touch too). I’ll definitely be back there in 2011 to get a couple more tailored shirts done for special occasions and more formal business occasions.

Richards and Richards on Elizabeth St is the new place. Right next door to the new Hermes store on the corner of Edward and Elizabeth Sts. The best part is that they have a ridiculously wide range of off-the-rack shirts, slacks and suits there in long-lasting fabrics that look good and (more importantly) their tailor is in house. Turns out that I can actually go down a couple of shirt sizes to find one that is “comfortably fitted” to my (weird and irregular) body shape and their in-house tailor will alter the sleeve length, body shape of the shirt and the top button for a very reasonable price.

Now only to get more exercise over summer, eat less and drop more weight. If not only for health reasons, clothing reasons, but I’m really getting sick and tired of beating myself up about my self-image. Who’dathunkit? A guy who has body image and self-esteem issues…

+ 2158hrs

Mercy & Thanksgiving

Chaplain Mike’s meditation on last Sunday’s Gospel reading is almost bang on the money with the homily I heard at Sunday evening’s 5pm Eucharist at St. John’s by Rev. Canon Bruce Maugham.

Mercy and thanksgiving. Kyrie eleison and eucharistia. Read it here.

Rev. Lee Gauld’s homily on Luke 11:29-32 at today’s St. John’s 12:30pm Eucharist was also somewhat related to Bryan’s October 7 post too. The Spirit blows where it chooses and by gosh, it’s been a strange set of “coincidences” when it comes to posts I’ve read, Scripture passages I’ve read, homilies I’ve listened to and meditations that have come to mind randomly. Or maybe it hasn’t been quite as random as I’ve thought it is. The linkages have been quite strong.

On another note: WHY OH WHY?

PHI 27 – SF 24. What’s worse is that it was at Candlestick Park (i.e. home turf). That’s 0-and-5 for the year so far (a feat not seen since 1979 by this football club).


This is shaping up to be another season to forget for my beloved 49ers. I’m crying on the inside.

On the bright side, the Badgers (UW-Madison) bounced back from their loss to the Spartans (MSU) last week by beating the Gophers (UMinn), 41-23, at home. But freakin’ sad to see my other favorite Big Ten team, the Wolverines (UMich) go down to the Spartans this week in their annual sparring match. Again, for the third year in a row. =(

Somebody’s gotta take the Spartans down from their unbeaten run so far in this year’s NCAA football season. Somebody. PUHLEASE!!!!!

+ 2145hrs

Bread, water, oil, wine

Currently reading a few books at the same time.

Geoffrey Robertson QC’s The Case of The Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse (2010, Penguin Special) is an honest and fair-minded argument against the current state of affairs in various Roman Catholic archdioceses and dioceses around the world regarding child sexual abuse by clergy. Canon Law can be a thing used for good. But in this layman’s view of things, the current use of Canon Law to shield errant clergy from trial in secular courts doesn’t only offend against natural justice and human rights but also is a perversion of justice. At a RRP of A$14.95 at good Australian booksellers (ok, maybe not Catholic bookstores…), it’s a very good read for anyone (Christian or not) who has been shocked and devastated at the abuse of power wielded by churchmen against minors.

Archimandrite Meletios Webber’s Bread & Water, Wine & Oil: An Orthodox Christian Experience of God (2007, Concilliar Press) is another thing that I’m reading too. The Eastern Orthodox approach towards Christian faith really is a side that is missing from Western Christianity (as I think I’ve said before). Fr. Meletios writes passionately about how God uses material things (of his own creation) in the Church for the benefit and cure of our souls. His approach towards the seven “Holy Mysteries of Mother Church” (that’s sacrament to Western Christians) makes for a highly readable introduction to the seven sacraments in Eastern Orthodoxy.

The Liturgical Gangstas (LGs) are back again at Internet Monk. And it’s on a topic that is something that may be lacking in churches today: Pastoral Visitation. It is very interesting reading the responses and how they differ: there’s more commonalities with the Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox and Anglican LGs compared with the other three LGs who responded.

Also have seen a couple of very good recent articles at the iMonastery regarding “The Plain, Hard Truth about Spiritual Formation” and an iMonk classic riff about “Confession”. Very practical, life-application oriented articles by Chaplain Mike and the late Michael Spencer.

+ 2351hrs

Mere Churchianity

Pentecost 6 – Sunday

[ now playing? ] “God Be In My Head (from the Sarum Primer, 1514)” – set to music by H. Walford Davies (1869-1941), sung by the Brisbane Chamber Choir, directed by Graeme Morton

I’m somewhat tired at this point of the day. Deacon Ann this morning at St. John’s gave a very challenging sermon based on the reading from St. Luke’s Gospel (Lk 10:1-20). The ending of Mass is something I’ve said many times on Sundays and on weekdays. Now I’ve just got to go out and actually live it. Stinging words Deacon, but by God I needed to hear it.

Came home and then got stuck into some ironing. For the first time in ages, I managed to get an entire basketload done in an hour and a half of non-stop ironing while listening to an audiobook: Father James Martin S.J.’s My Life with the Saints. So far it’s been St. Jude, St. Joan of Arc and then St. Therese of Liseux. That “Little Way” of St. Therese is very much consonant with what Deacon Ann preached this morning. Looking forward to the remaining 9 CD’s of this unabridged audiobook.

After that, it’s been a WMC meeting followed by some heart-to-heart talk with parents: there are some things that my mother will never be able to understand and only my father can understand.

And lo’ behold, it’s the end of yet another weekend and beginning of another week of work. We should all be so lucky…


It’s taken me a while to read the excerpt of Michael Spencer’s forthcoming book Mere Churchianity that is linked from almost every page on

So I’ve read it tonight, with some tears in eyes at how he wrote those words and how I can see myself in those damn words he recounts. Even from death Michael, you still have a way of hitting me. I’m looking forward to meeting you eventually when it finally is the time when the good Lord calls me home.

Maybe Michael, now that you are finally home, you should be canonized as the patron saint of Christians in the wilderness. Here’s hoping.

I’m hoping this makes it to the shelves of Koorong, or even better, Borders later this year. Christians need to read this and so do non-Christians.

Until then, take a read of the excerpt (in PDF) yourselves folks. It’s warmly recommended from me.


Requiescat in pace iMonk

Easter 2 – Monday

I’m a week late for this. My internet connection while in Malaysia was spotty. So I’m only beginning to catch up with some of the blogs that I frequently read. And one of them is iMonk.

And I am saddened to read what I just read on his blog a week after his passing.

Requiescat in pace Michael Spencer.

You were one of the few lights out there in the evangelical Christian blogosphere that I trusted. Even when I disagreed with your observations, which were less often than the times I agreed and screamed out “Amen brother!” in front of my computer screen whilst reading. And even though you were on the other side of the world in Kentucky and I here in Brisbane, Australia.

Chaplain Mike has kept up the blog in the same manner as which you led us all to think more deeply about our commitment to Christ and our ecumenical witness as Christians from all over the spectrum (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant, Independent, Fundie…) For that I am truly thankful that you had such willing co-workers who took the time (and continue to take the time) to pen insightful writings for all of us who were out in the (as you called it) “evangelical wilderness”.

And now that you are gone, I will miss reading your thoughts and musings all the more than when you first informed your rather large readership of your battle with cancer.

‘Well done, my good and faithful servant… Come, share your master’s joy.’ – Matt 25:21

In paradisum deducant te angeli:
In tuo adventu sucipiant te martyres;
Et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.
Chorus angelorum te suscipiat,
et cum Lazaro quondam paupere aeternam habeas requiem.

May angels guide you and lead you into paradise:
May all the martyrs come forth to welcome you home;
And may they lead you into the holy city, Jerusalem.
May the angel chorus sing to welcome you,
and like Lazarus, forgotten and poor, you shall have everlasting rest.

I hope to meet you and our Lord at last when my body is committed to the grave. And both of us (along with the multitudes), whatever our theological differences, can truly rejoice at our Lord’s banquet feast. Amen.

+ 2139hrs

The search for church

Lent 2 – Wednesday

[ now playing? ] Phoenix – “If I Ever Feel Better (Todd Edwards’ Dub Better Mix)” | Regina Spektor – Far | (500 Days of) Summer OST

Click on the link and read the post first.

This has been me for the last couple of years in some respects.

To a degree, Michael S is right. When one is theologically minded and suffers from bouts of depression, finding a church home is something that is of paramount importance.

As for the “search for the one true Church” as he puts it, what do we value more? Do we solely look at the visible church (or rather the multiple visible churches) around us? Or instead focus on the invisible church that would ostensibly include some heretics and schismatics in it if one uses a very loose definition of what Christian means?

Michael’s section #5 is worth quoting from:

5. Is depression related to theology? A better question is this: Are persons with tendencies toward depression likely to get involved in theology? Oh yeah. Oh yeah. They get involved in church looking for love, acceptance, God, truth, community, help. All the big holes we all carry around. They bring their intellect into the arena of Bible teaching or preaching. They bring their heart into the church as community and experience. They take seriously what preachers and teachers say is serious and important. When someone says “the Bible teaches this,” or “the Church has always believed that…” they take it in. When depression comes- for whatever reasons- theology is going into the experience. GOD is a big word to someone who really believes that God matters in everything and that GOD is working through the church.

The experiences of others in the comments field resonate with me deeply as I identify with each of them (bar one or two who seem to be rather snooty about things and are the sorts of people I avoid like the plague).

But can one reasonably stay in their current congregation if on a doctrinal level they disagree to a great degree to the doctrinal standards of their current denomination? Some would say yes, some would say no. I’m kinda torn between the two. I know that if I didn’t have a teaching role in some capacity (unofficial or otherwise) and if I didn’t care so damn much about exegesis and theology, then I’d probably be quite happy to stay where I am. But I do care about these things and that’s what causes the internal discord. Because when one is asked to teach or lead studies, one ends up having to do a generic teaching guide up which one (to a degree) is convinced is lacking certain other things that the church catholic has taught and thus one has to basically self-censor themselves so they do not go outside the bounds of the doctrinal standards.

Maybe for people like me, our intellect is both a blessing and a curse from the Good Lord above. Lord, have mercy.

+ 2112hrs