In My Own Strength

It's at times like this leading up to the major Christian events and feasts that I am beginning to realise how important the concept of tradition and liturgy really is.

I became a Christian in 1994, being baptised at an Anglican church in Farnborough, Hants. The church was an evangelical Anglican church which was 'traditionally' evangelical in that there was little in the way of liturgy for the Sunday services and little or no 'tradition'. At this church my faith grew but so did my rebelliousness. However, I began to question the natural authority within the church structure and the concept of the division between clergy and laity became more of a barrier to a Christian life than the true method that God employs in His church to further His aims. And to be honest the worldly outworking of the Church of England didn't help much. Still doesn't!

So my rebellious heart together with family living in a different area led me to take my own family to join a small pentecostal church in Egham in Surrey. This church to me seemed to be exceptionally dynamic, full of people seeking the heart of God. And indeed it was and still is. I am a deacon there and also lead worship for our services.

But now I am beginning to realise that the 'problems' I have discerned to be with the church really aren't. They are problems in me. The initial passion for living God's Word had become dampened by time and my own weakness. I now realise that the biggest failing lies with me and my own inabilities, in trying to live a Godly life aside from the framework of church, fellowship, liturgy, tradition and history that God has so gracefully supplied to His church. I have allowed each day to become much like the previous. Where the church calendar guides us through the seasons and offers respect to those who have gone before I have been trying to tread my own path, relying on my own abilities. And I realise I have been failing. My belief and faith in God  are stronger than ever, but the flesh is weak.

Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.
Psalm 102

1Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee.

2Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily.
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The Subversive Christmas Tree

 Just spotted that the Christmas Tree in the staff canteen where I work has an angel on top. The single, sole reminder of that momentous event two millenia ago.

I wonder how long it will be before this smack-in-the-face for the militant atheists is detected by one of their acolytes. I mean, how dare anyone display such overtly Christian religious symbols at this, or any time of year!

I'm glad I'm not a first aider anymore as blood pressure and respiratory problems in humourless bigots were never my cup of tea.

St Michael's Abbey, Farnborough

I've lived in Farnborough for over 20 years and have never really been aware of the presence of St Michael's Abbey , let alone visited it.

So yesterday I decided to set things right and paid them a visit. The Abbey does public visits every Saturday at 3pm so I availed myself of the tour to see the Abbey and the Crypt. You can read about the Abbey at their website or on Wikipaedia.

I was given a tour by one of the Benedictine brothers which included the church and also the crypt where the Empress Eugenie, her husband Napoleon III and their son the Prince Imperial are entombed.

The church is in a baroque style complete with amazing gargoyles. Inside it was very moving with the reverence that such an environment gives to worship. The marble flooring was fantastic, the windows are in a Belgian bottle style and some 'English' stained glass windows. My first ever visit to a Catholic church. The recently installed underfloor heating was most welcome according to the brother!

From the church we walked around the grounds, past the monastery graveyard to the crypt built by Eugenie. Through the door we go down steps to the centre of the crypt. Ahead is the altar and above and beyond that is the huge marble casket containing the remains of Eugenie. To the left and right are similar caskets of her husband Napoleon III and her son, the Prince Imperial who was killed during the Zulu Wars in KwaZulu -Natal whilst in the employ of the British Army.

Afterwards a trip was made to the monastery shop where you find for sale the produce of the monks and the volunteers, honey, beef, candles and cards together with the usual things you'd expect in a Christian shop.

The monks raise cattle, keep bees, excel in Gregorian chant and have an expertise in bookbinding. Perhaps apt that you'll also find the National Catholic Library in the grounds.

A visit to the Abbey is a really good way to spend a few hours if you are in the neighbourhood. So give them a visit and help support the community there.

The Beatitudes X5

I've already posted over at my other blog Lansbury's Lido the first of these videos but it's so good that I can't resist posting it again! There is something about that Orthodox chant in the Slavic languages!

To make things different I've added in a few other Beatitudes videos.


Any of these your favourites?

** just noticed the video has been removed by the user, a shame! **

Oh My God

Jars of Clay, one of my favourite bands with one of my favourite songs. Intelligent and moving lyrics.

Salvation I

A big subject, so in a number of parts! But why I'm posting is in response to a blog comment that mentioned salvation being brought into play in the life of a person when they had said 'The Sinner's Prayer' or suchlike. It got me thinking about when salvation begins in the very being of that person, when the future direction of their eternity changes?

So to start with a quick round up of the soteriology or study of salvation from some of the major players in the Christian world!

So let's start where I started, with the Anglican church and their Thirty-Nine Articles. The XVIII Article is the one that refers to salvation.

XVIII. Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ.
They also are to be had accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the light of Nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.

Seems pretty clear - look in the Bible!

Now onto the Catholics.

The doctrine of salvation for the Catholics is defined in the Coucil of Trent. Reading from the Catholic Encycopaedia I think I can sum it up thus:

  • Disposition - you recognise that you need salvation
  • Justification - either by reason of a perfect act of charity elicited by a well disposed sinner or by virtue of the Sacrament either of Baptism or of Penance. 

The Sacrements come into play with infants and those not of sound reason. But quite what this 'perfect act of charity is I do not know. Anyone?

Now the turn of the Orthodox. And this starts to get complicated for me. According to Orthodox theology salvation is not a stage but a continuous change towards a divine nature or theosis, becoming united with God. So Salvation can be looked upon as three overlapping processes:

  • catharsis (purification)
  • theoria (illumination)
  • theosis (divinization)

So I read that as instead of having a defined point or moment of salvation the Orthodox view is of a continuing theosis, which continues even after death. And if I'm talking cobblers feel free to put me right!

To be continued.

Orthodoxy

Yesterday I received through the post Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton. I had read Heretics a few weeks ago and was impressed with what he was saying. So as Orthodoxy is a follow up to Heretics it makes sense to read it.

Heretics was excellent, although dated in parts, so dated even I couldn't place some of the characters and events he mentioned.

Looking forward to Orthodoxy though

Miserere mei, Deus

I lead worship at my church and can run off a good worship song but the tops for me is choral. I can't fail to be moved by the interaction of the human voice in response to God.

Video below is Miserere mei, Deus sung by The Sixteen.




Have mercy on me, O God

About This Blog

Welcome to The Sign Of The Cross!

This blog is about all things spiritual which I find encouraging or even annoying. It's a place where I can bring together stuff that inspires, builds up and encourages me in my faith.

My background is evangelical Anglican but worshipping at a lively pentecostal church but my encouragement comes from across the christian spectrum.

Please feel free to leave a comment on any articles or to get in touch with me.

Blessings

Chris