Must Read Monday: Episcopalian Gender-Neutral Book of Common Prayer, Rescue in Thailand, Unrest in Haiti, and Inside the Alliance Defending FreedomJuly 9, 2018
Have you ever felt trapped? Imagine you are 4 km deep inside a mountain cave. You are sitting on a ledge as water rises cutting off your only exit route. It is completely dark. You don’t know how to swim. And you’re a kid. The drama unfolding half a world away affords us the opportunity for a number of substantive conversations. Topics include fear, separation, wisdom, bravery, risking life to save others, worldview (Buddhist vs Christian), prayer and miracles. The boys and their coach were literally lost. Help had to come from the outside. What does that sound like? It sounds like the Gospel.
In your conversations, consider the story for a number of angles: the perspective of the boys, their coach, their parents, the Thai government, the divers, Buddhist vigil keepers, and the watching world. Note the language of “miracle” and the willingness of those involved in rescue efforts to lose their lives so that others might live.
God talk: The Episcopal Church is moving toward revising the Book of Common Prayer to make language referring to God gender-neutral
At their national meeting, the Episcopal Church (a liberal, mainline, U.S. denomination) formed a committee to “provide a pathway” toward revising the Book of Common Prayer. Or, at least the American version of the Book of Common Prayer, seeing as the 1549 Book of Common Prayer used by Anglicans around the world is not subject to edits proposed by activist American Episcopalians who argue that the “overwhelming use of masculine language” is a hindrance to inclusive efforts.
Proposed changes include gender-neutral language for God, changing marriage liturgies to reflect the denomination’s same-sex marriage practices, and adding a ceremony to celebrate a transgender person’s adoption of a new name. Did you catch that? On the one hand advocates for revising the historic prayer book are saying that God does not have the right of self-identification nor preferred pronouns, but humans who want to assert a gender unaligned with their biological reality, have the church’s blessing? To be clear, the Episcopalians are arguing here that God is subject to human redefinition of His gendered self-identification, but humans are not subject to God’s defining of gendered categories.
Like marriage, God’s fatherhood is not modeled after human experience. Quite the reverse! God reveals himself as Father and has every right to be identified by His preferred masculine pronouns. Read Isaiah 42:14, 49:15, Matthew 23:17, I John 1:3, Hebrews 1:3 for starters. This is not to say that God is male. In His image, God created human beings as male and female. And there are feminine metaphors for God in the Bible. But Jesus refers to God as Father and instructs us to do the same.
Praying the news: Haiti unrest affects many U.S. mission groups
The riots in Haiti are violent and the government has closed the airport. The U.S. has ordered American citizens to shelter in place in their hotels. I suspect that churches and parents of college, high school and middle school youth on summer mission trips to Haiti are recalculating the cost. While I know that pictures of kids safe from the violence may be comforting, what is the witness to the world of Christians on mission trips swimming in hotel pools while the desperate people of the island nation riot in the streets in protest of government hikes to fuel prices that will further cripple the impoverished? How adequately do churches and mission hosting agencies prepare those who travel to Haiti for the potential of life-threatening events?
Pray for the hundreds of Americans currently in Haiti on short-term summer mission trips. May they bear authentic witness to Christ in their concern for the poor. May they consider the needs of others before themselves. And may God protect their lives. Let us also pray for the people of the Haiti, the government, and the redemption of the island nation which is our neighbor.
(subscription may be required as this links to an article at The Washington Post)
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is worth knowing about. I’m going to spend a week focusing on their efforts the first week of August through daily interviews on Connecting Faith.
Here’s their website: https://www.adflegal.org/
Here’s a spotlight interview I did with ADF CEO Michael Ferris.