Category Archives: Church

Feel the burn

Advent 1 – Sunday

I really could go for some sleep. Some deep sleep. Right about now.

If I didn’t wake up from it, I don’t think I’d care.

That oft-talked about phrase used in modern life – “burnout” – has been a real big factor this year for me. Maybe I’m just getting old now.

I know I have to be on my guard at these times. For these are the times when I can end up particularly in the dumps. Physically, mentally and spiritually in the dumps.  And where the urge to end it all rears its ugly head. Kyrie eleison.

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This is three weeks in a row where I haven’t gone (or am not going) to St. John’s on Sunday evenings. Usually because my parents have dragged me out to some function after church in the morning and then I have to get the usual stuff all done before Monday morning rolls around. So vespers/evensong will happen again here at home tonight. Not quite the same, but at least I know that I’ll be using the same texts for the readings as those who are at the cathedral this evening.

I’m simply just too darn tired to drive up to St. John’s tonight. This weekend has been a killer. Being audio boy on Friday night for Rev. Yuan Zhi Ming’s evangelistic rally. Toowoomba in the day yesterday to attend my cousin’s wedding. Then a mad rush back to Brisbane to help Chris out with audio last night for Rev. Yuan’s second rally and then being audio boy again this morning for the final worship service and closing ceremony of the CMCA’s 9th Annual Conference. Rev. Yuan’s evangelistic rallies were rather amusing for me. For all the Protestant notion that we don’t (or we shouldn’t) have someone like the Pope, watching the adoring throngs trying to cosy on up to Rev. Yuan for a photo or an autograph in one of his books they had purchased on the night kinda made him look like an Asian Pope to me. That potentially apocryphal saying by Catholics to Protestants rang a little bit true: Protestants don’t have a Pope, they have many…

Managed to say a hi and have a quick chat with Bp. Hwa Yung here this morning. Especially seeing as he’s just come out of the Annual Conference season in the Methodist Church in Malaysia: six back in the motherland that recently finished – Chinese Annual Conference, Tamil Annual Conference, Trinity Annual Conference, Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference, Sarawak Iban Annual Conference, Sabah Provisional Annual Conference. Last time I saw him I think he was either preaching at Seremban Wesley Methodist or he was paying my grandmother a visit and I happened to be visiting Malaysia at the time. His vestments were the standard Methodist episcopal dress: black preaching/Geneva gown (standard attire) and a purple stole that looks a heck of a lot like the bishop’s purple stole my grandfather wore. Very similar embroidery on it too. I’m a noticer of details…

Was pleasantly surprised to see Bp. John Lin from the Methodist Church in the Republic of China (Taiwan) here too. Dad introduced me to him after the service was over and the first thing he said to me in Mandarin was “You really look like your grandfather a lot!” Interesting vestments for him too. An all white preaching/Geneva gown with the purple stole. I like.

Best of luck, wishes and prayers for the new CMCA Bishop, Bp. James Kwang who takes over from the former bishop, the Rev. Albert Chiew. And who under the standard Methodist discipline, Rev. Chiew, reverts back to being a regular elder now, unlike in the UMC where I believe bishops retain their ecclesiastical standing for life after they are consecrated irrespective of whether or not they are a resident bishop of an Annual Conference. Here’s hoping that the next quadrennium under him will be fruitful. His Geneva gown reminded me of the judicial gown of the 16th US Supreme Court Chief Justice, William Rehnquist. Classy. The consecration of Bp. Kwang today was an interesting one. The saddest part was that I had the consecration service going on in my head (including the requisite texts) while those on the stage were saying the same words at the same time. My brain is fast becoming a repository of liturgical flotsam and jetsam…

Time for vespers and then it’s ironing time. Lo’ and behold, it’ll be Monday morning before I know it. Where on earth do the weekends go?

+ 1746hrs

Crazy weather

[ now playing? ] Match Point OST – Various Artists | Telecoteco: um sambinha cheio de bossa… – Paula Morelenbaum

The weather the past week has been ridiculous. Mainly raining. Apart from a couple of days where it’s been humid like heck in the day followed by… oh yeah, that’s right, rain (again) at night.

Today has been stupidly wet. Some strong winds and heavy rain have made it a complete washout.

Nice to see Steph, Sime, Jacky and Phillip again today. =)

But today was the first week of the “two-church” approach to faith. EMP in the morning followed by 5pm Mass @ St. John’s. I would have stayed back for Choral Evensong at 6pm but alas, I had to get something to eat before my last meeting as secretary for the Worship & Music Committee. I am getting used to this split nature for church now. EMP is there primarily for the social factor (with faith formation too) but St. John’s is primarily for faith formation and music with the liturgy and the music program there each week. Will have to get used to choral evensongs at night instead of choral Eucharists in the morning now.

I’m somewhat relegating my hopes of one day celebrating a Eucharist as a priest to being down the drain for the moment. In vestments no less. *shrugs shoulders* Oh well. Dear God, it was fun while it lasted. Maybe in God’s time it will come back. Maybe it won’t. Studying theology hasn’t gone out of the picture though. And neither has my lay monastic sense of faith formation and spirituality that is probably a sharp contrast to the rest of my life. But I live with these inherent contradictions within myself. Deo gratias.

This past week I have been getting rather sick of the constant questioning from rellies about my lack of a marital status. Sure, there are some young women that I do like (some may even pick up on this) but I can’t foresee myself in a relationship with them. Whether it’s real concerns that I have or me just killing myself by a thousand cuts before the battle has even begun, I have no idea. Maybe this is my calling in life, as a single man. And while I have pity on myself, I don’t expect anyone else to have pity on me. I expect laughter at me and incessant questioning from relatives. If this is what it comes down to, all I pray is for grace. Lots of it.

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Bryan’s post on Oct 7 has got me thinking. Especially with the church issues I’ve had over the last few months. He quotes from Merton in The Monastic Journey initially:

The real secret of monastic stability is, then, the total acceptance of God’s plan by which the monk realizes himself to be immersed into the mystery of Christ through this particular family and no other.  It is the definitive acceptance of his communion, in time and eternity, with these particular brothers chosen for him by God to share his sorrows and his joys, his difficulties and his achievements, his problems and their solutions.  It means the glad realization of the fact that all who are thus called together will work out their salvation in common, will help one another to find God more easily, and indeed that we have been destined from all eternity to bring one another closer to Him by our love, our patience, our forbearance and our efforts at mutual understanding.

He has some pointed observations next.

This vow of stability isn’t so much about my physical location but has more to do with where I am spiritually.  Am I dwelling in God?  Am I choosing to surrender my will for His will?

I love the last quote too . . . read it over a few times.  Do you have a “particular family” of people that you are working out your salvation with?  If so, how does that look?  What kinds of things must we be willing to surrender to live in this kind of communion?

And they are pointed. They cut to the very core of the discontent and spiritual malaise that has afflicted me intensely over the last few months and more generally over the last two to three years. I haven’t really been able to find a “particular family” (as Merton puts it) where I can be immersed into the mystery of Christ. Or maybe I have but haven’t realized it and it has been this last few year’s sojourn in the spiritual wilderness/desert (so to speak) that maybe God is slowly removing the scales from my eyes.

Is my fervent Anglo-Catholicism something that I can surrender to live in communion? Or is it an integral part of what makes me, well, “me“? Have all these years in an evangelical parish actually dulled the innate Anglo-Catholicism in me to the point where my time spent in the evangelical parish was actually a front, a facade with elements of the underlying truth visible in parts? And has it been this 5-6 months away from the evangelical parish that has restored the sanity and balance in my faith that was partially a facade before? Quite possibly.

Dwelling in God is not as easy as it sounds. At the risk of cutting it very finely on the line between faith and works, it does take effort to dwell in God. My own effort. If it’s effort through my own strength, then it is for naught. But, if it is my own effort through Christ’s strength, by gosh do I have a shot at dwelling in God then.

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Delfonics Notebook & Pen Holder + Rhodia A5 Webbie/Clairefontaine A5 Life Unplugged + LAMY fountain pen with EF nib = writing heaven.

2255hrs

Church politics

First up, let me get this off my chest.

I didn’t really think Channel Ten’s new series Offspring was going to be any good. But I’m being pleasantly surprised week-in, week-out. The storyline is a bit surreal (ala Scrubs) but I’m warming up to the characters quite nicely.

I can relate quite a lot to the lead character, Nina. Apart from the part where the character is a girl and has no “dangly-bits” down there while I am a guy who has “dangly-bits”. The BS and internal questioning that goes on in Nina’s mind is quite similar at times to what goes on in my head.

And… Nina is hot which therefore means Asher Keddie (the actress playing Nina) is hot. I loved Asher Keddie’s work in the award winning pay-TV series Love My Way. On another note: Aussie drama deserves support.

Quite glad that Ten have picked up the series for another season. Should be interesting to hear how the story will continue to pan out.

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I don’t ordinarily want to discuss church politics here on this blog of mine. Every church and denomination has it. The Roman Catholics, autocephalous Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Reconstructionists and NonDenoms (among the many “options” that are available in Christianity) all have power blocs (or individuals) within them that vie for earthly power under the guise of “spiritual leadership”. No matter how many people may try to tell you otherwise.

But I have heard rumors of words spoken in hushed tones by one or two people about why I’ve no longer been attending EMP for the last few months (funny how words get spoken when persons aren’t around). And that it may be raised at the next Local Conference (which as I understand it will be in about three Sunday’s time). And yes, I did know that person was fishing for information at Janet & Bill’s reception when he asked me why he hadn’t seen me at EMP for a while and I gave an answer that withheld quite a lot of what was going on inside my mind.

Sure the theological side of things has been a factor (EMP=evangelical;  Me=Anglo-Catholic evangelical). That’s been blogged about enough on here. Save it to also say that church politics have also played a part. In workplace terms, the last couple of years have seen me have a church equivalent of the opposite of “employee engagement”.

  • Has it played a part at times of the lack of sleep I’ve had? Yes.
  • Has it played a part in me swearing a lot at God in prayer time? Definitely yes.
  • Has it played a part in the borderline suicidal tendencies I had late last year? I would have to say yes (alongside other matters).
  • Has it played a part in the mild levels of recurrent depression that I’ve had since about 2008 when the first inklings of this major bout of church bullshit raised itself? Yes.
  • Has it played a part in me distancing myself more and more from participating in activities at EMP? Yes.
  • Have I raised this matter and sought counsel with others after lunchtime Mass at St. John’s? Too many times with a few priests and laypersons that I trust and who have seen this happen way too often in too many local churches.
  • Has it played a part in my missing services late last year and early this year when I was still a regular congregation member at EMP? Yes.
  • Has it played a part in my nearly leaving the faith entirely? Yes, there’s been one clear time this year when I really considered abandoning the faith entirely.

I will have to attend the Local Conference (technically, I’m still part of the LCEC until a new one gets elected). It will probably be my swansong Local Conference at EMP. If this matter does get raised in a few weeks time, there will be a response on my part. It may sound harsh to a lot of people there. I won’t be pulling any punches.

Am I an idealist? Yes, though there is also a pragmatist in me too.

Do I accept the imperfection of humanity, especially the imperfections of those in the Church? Yes. Knowing full well that, to use St. Paul’s words in his first letter to St. Timothy, that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of which I am the worst.(emphasis mine)

Does it hurt to have to sever a lot of the connection with EMP? You are damn f****ng right about that.

Do I still pray for EMP? You betcha, now more than ever.

+1803hrs

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

British Methodism & the CofE

1st Sunday in Lent

[ now playing? ] m-flo loves 日之内エミ (Emi HINOUCHI) & Ryohei – “Summer Time Love” | m-flo loves Kahimi Karie (カヒミ・カリィ) – “COZMO-NAUGHTY” | m-flo loves MONDAY 満ちる (Monday Michiru) – “A.D.D.P.”

I’m getting used to this minimal blogging. It’s quite cathartic not posting too often. Just as I’m also getting used to the loneliness I experience even in the midst of a crowd. To the point where I even crave it. Sad innit? =P

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I was looking around at the news today on various sites. Including the Sydney Anglicans website which threw up a few good links.

Some interesting news (link here) in that it appears that conservative traditionalist Anglicans in Australia who are aligned with Forward in Faith (FiF) may now leave the Anglican Church in Australia and join (along with the Traditional Anglican Communion) under Rome’s Anglican Ordinariates that the Holy Father provided for in an Apostolic Constitution that was released last year. For me in Brisbane, that means that if the entire thing goes through, I do not believe that I will be able to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ during Mass at All Saints on Wickham Terrace anymore given that it is affiliated with FiF Australia (and also because of that little thing known as RC Canon Law). Sad, because it is one of the quaintest and most beautiful churches in Brisbane and it uses a beautiful liturgy as found in the English Missal. It should still be open for prayer during the day at least though, so I still have another hiding place at lunchtimes (alongside St. Stephen’s) when I can’t make it to Mass at St. John’s.

But even more interesting news is the remarks made by the Rev’d. David Gamble, Conference President of the Methodist Church of Great Britain to the Church of England’s 2010 General Synod.

Here are some links if you want to read it for yourself:

Given the Methodist-Anglican agreement signed in 2003, it does look possible (at a stretch) that in the near future the Methodist Church in Great Britain will rejoin the mother church from which she came out of. And for that matter, the wishes of the founders of Methodism, Rev’d. Charles Wesley and Rev’d. John Wesley will be granted just over 200 years after their deaths.

I don’t expect this motion (if you could call it that) to pass easily at both future UK General Conferences and the CofE’s future Synods though. Methodists in the UK have a slight problem with episcopacy (i.e. the office of bishops, unlike their American counterparts) and very traditionalist Anglo-Catholics have a problem with women in Holy Orders and more to the point, whether Methodist orders are valid.

And as an Anglo-Catholic myself, I’d say that I’m on the borderline between traditionalist Anglo-Catholicism and the broad-Church variety of Anglo-Catholicism (that does accept women priests but maybe/maybe not women bishops) so this potential merger between UK Methodists and the CofE isn’t too troubling to me. Given that ecumenism is a bugbear of mine, I’m quite happy to hear these remarks made in Christian charity for the sake of the Gospel. Though the remarks about Westminster Central Hall (worth £94 million) may be true, I sure hope that it isn’t the (real) reason why the CofE would like this to go ahead.

I’m looking forward to reading/hearing/seeing what Abp. Rowan Williams has to say at the 2010 Methodist General Conference in a few months time (June 2010 if I read correctly).

Today is a good day for people like myself who have both Anglican and Methodist heritage in their Christian life.

+ 2000hrs

How sad am I?

Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord (a.k.a. Christmas)

While others are celebrating on this joyous night of nights with family and friends, what am I doing now that I’m back from dinner at Rev. Lui’s house with his family and Rev. Lam?

Finishing off the last two remaining drams in my bottle of Glenfiddich single malt while reading.

While others would read something nicer, like a novel or something, me of all people has to read these things:

Oh well. At least it’s with some good whisky.

Collect for the Nativity of Our Lord

O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ:
Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer,
may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

+ 2305hrs