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Fifteen Years


Avocado

On an ordinary day, the parish priest has to be pretty darned adept at multitasking. This is particularly true from about Thursday through Sunday evening for reasons that run from the sublime to…well…the ridiculous. Indeed, in one case, I was called out to perform “an emergency house blessing”. Needless to say, the furniture and household appliances were not floating in midair.  In fact, the queer noises that were causing so much concern came from a family of squirrels that had chewed their way into the attic and were given to gamboling and such at odd hours of the day and night. The “roof rabbits” were blessed along with the rest of the house. (Note to brother clergy: do keep a flashlight in your Mass kit for those hard-to-reach parts of the house to be blessed.)

Over time, there have been many “call-outs” at all hours for reasons awful, grave, not-so-grave, ordinary and even downright humorous.  One learns, though, that something that may be seem trivial can have great weight.   That’s the reason that putting on the dog collar involves going when called, often in several directions at once.  It means blessing each individual holy card for an hundred school children while trying to pray in a shrine church.  I watched a friend do this at a Franciscan Monastery while suffering a bout of malaria.  He never complained and had a smile for each little World Youth Day pilgrim, every one of whom seemed to have dozens of holy cards, rosaries and statues of obscure saints in their back packs.  It had a profound effect one me, and is a picture I try to keep in mind whenever I deem myself to be “overworked” or put upon

Today, however, has surpassed many others for weekend excitement. We had an early meeting of the Virginia Army Cadet staff to prepare for summer camp. We got an enormous amount of administrative work done in a short time, and the advanced team went out to the site where we will hold our August mini-camp: three days of ropes course, land navigation, hiking, swimming and marksmanship training. The “confirmed” arrangements were, in fact, not. The camp had never heard from us.

Following a flurry of e-mails, phone calls and some perhaps un-priestly discourse, We got that buttoned down, and I was able to move on to producing tomorrow’s service bulletin, our parish secretary having left several weeks ago in a huff over “substandard printer cartridges”. This hurdle was overcome amidst a parade of visitors-all very, very welcome, mind you, but the clock tiketh. In the meantime, several ladies of the church were cooking chili to be sold tomorrow and at synod. The aroma is extraordinary, especially since lunchtime had slipped by unnoticed.

Readjusting, I somehow have come up with noted for an homily on I St. John 4:16. No warranties express or implied, particularly now that I have read it. I am now “in production” on the class handouts for tomorrow’s class on Revelation, and praying that the thunderstorm that has just moved in doesn’t knock out the power before I can get them copied. Otherwise, it is a 6:00 a.m. special tomorrow.

So it is that I remembered that I was ordained priest fifteen years ago on St. Columba’s Day, June 9, 2002, by the late Archbishop Robert Sherwood Morse.  On June 23rd, the opening day of our diocesan synod, I will mark 16 years in Holy Orders, having been “deaconized” on that date in 2001 by the very same Abp. Morse.

To be sure, it has been a busy stretch with parish work, a decade in military chaplaincy, graduate theological studies and weekends just as busy or busier than this.  Sometimes, on long nights at the hospital, those missed holiday dinners, birthdays and anniversaries, and in the midst of tragedy great and small, one wonders how to keep all of the balls in the air.  Prayer of course.  But, in addition to more grace than any man deserves,  I have had the unfailing love and support of family, especially my wife Elizabeth.

Even on the days when multitasking stretches me thin, it is a joy to be able to serve the people of God and to be an “advance man” for our Lord.   I do have two small requests, though.

First, pray daily for your parish priest.  We need it.

Secondly, on Sunday morning after Mass, please don’t ask, “What do you do the other days of the week.”

It’s just not nice to annoy the priest.

 

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Please share the notice below with your parish, congregation and fellow chaplains and join with traditional Christians across denominations at this great event.  We’ll be starting at 10 am, and, I am honored to be representing St. Alban’s and the Anglican side of the house in offering the Prayer of Confession & Repentance at 11 am. (We are hoping to do the Litany, so bring your Prayer Books!) The web link contains full information as to schedule and program.  We look forward to seeing you there, but if you can’t be there, please offer your prayers for the various intentions on the schedule. 

Blessings, Canon Charles Nalls

 Join us on the National Mall-SE Corner of the Washington Monument, at Sylvan Theater for “My People Pray”

Please make plans now to join with lay leaders, churches and prayer teams from around the nation on September 15, 2012 for “My People Pray”—a Christian prayer and praise event to seek the Lord’s guidance and grace in our lives.

Come pray with us
The effectual prayers of righteous men and women can transform our world and prepare us to usher in the Kingdom of our Lord. We hope that you and your church will come and join with other believers from across America at this outdoor event to be held on the grounds of the Washington Monument at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

A lay-initiated event designed for the whole body of Christ!
Representatives from important ministries and Bible believing churches across America will come and join us on September 15 for one hour, two hours, or for all day! We invite your prayer teams, Sunday school groups, families, and youth groups to come and pray with us in the heart of our nation.

Purposeful prayer
We have planned for a simple agenda that addresses specific prayer topics during each half hour. Included will be prayers of praise and adoration, confession and repentance, and thanksgiving. We will pray for our nation, for the world, for our families, for our leaders, for our churches and for the lost and needy.

You can read more about the program, participants and how to donate here:

http://www.mypeoplepray2012.org/

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Recent Tornado Damage

The recent tornados in the midwest and south have underscored the importance of basic preparedness for ourselves and families.  Richmond has been no stranger to such events having even experienced an earthquake in the past year.

St. Alban’s and St. Athanasius parishes wil be sponsoring a series of preparedness classes for the public beginning Saturday, April 14th at 7 pm.  Teri Mixer of Shelf-Reliance, a producer of emergency food products, will speak on appropriate measures for “food preparedness” in the event of natural or manmade disasters.  Mrs. Mixer will also discuss long-term food storage as well as the preparation of balanced, tasty and economical meals from freeze-dried and dehydrated ingredients.  Shelf-Reliance also provides food to the hungry overseas through donations to its charity Thriving Nations.

Join us for an interesting and informative evening that will increase your family’s safety and awareness in the event of an emergency.

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Words Have Consequences


During last May’s “rapture” alert here in Richmond and around the world, the clergy here at Saint Alban’s addressed the dangers of so-called end-times prophecies. Indeed, such prognostication about Our Lord’s return is specifically proscribed in the Gospels by Christ himself.  However, words have consequences.

Bob Unruh of World Net Daily reports that Harold “Second Coming” Camping got more than he bargained for with his prediction that Jesus Christ would return to Earth to “rapture” his followers to heaven on May 21.  You will recall that Camping, 89, of Oakland, Calif.-based Family Radio, prognosticated that mankind had run out of time, and the Creator of the universe would arrive on that Saturday. Now, the executive director of a ministry that works with the persecuted church in the northern reaches of Vietnam says that the “prophecy” preacher apparently cost the lives of many tribal Hmong people who believed it.

The horrific aftermath of the unfulfilled prophecy was reported by James Jacob Prasch, a key leader of Moriel Ministries. Prasch routinely travels and meets with members of the Christian body worldwide. A recent trip took him to Vietnam, where a large number of the Hmong Central Highland  tribal peoples known as Montagnards are Christian. These folks apparently had heard of Camping’s prophecy and not having sophisticated methods for evaluating its validity, took it literally, he explained.

The result, for many, was death, Prasch reported in an email to supporters.  After listening to a translation of Camping’s prediction some 7,000 Montagnards gathered on a mountain praising God their suffering at the hands of the communist regime was about to end because Jesus was returning that day in May to establish a new kingdom.  The police and military police slaughtered many of them at gunpoint – beheading two pastors. Others were arrested, and so many were shot dead that they were buried in mass graves bulldozed over.

Prasch reported that he spoke to a secret meeting of Hmong pastors to explain to them “false prophets and false teachers.” “Due to a combination of poverty, ignorance and persecution these poor Christians don’t understand much so they believed Camping’s shortwave broadcast which is how most get their teaching,” he said.  “These people already suffering for their faith in Jesus had it bad enough. They are not like the undiscerning whackos in the West who should have known Camping was a crackpot and a proven false prophet and false teacher,” Prasch reported. “This is a persecuted church who just had no means to know any different. This is why … I warn so much about false teachers and false prophets.”

World Net Daily’s attempt request of Family Radio for comment predictably did not generate a response.

In a related incident, when Camping’s predicted rapture did not occur, International Business Times reported that Ms. Lyn Benedetto of Antelope Valley, Calif., slit the wrist and throat of her two daughters and then slit her own to prevent them from going through the “Tribulation” on May 21.  Thanks be to God that a  neighbor summoned an ambulance in time for them to be hospitalized.

Upon hearing the story, Camping was quoted as saying, “Murdering is terrible. It is contrary to everything the Bible teaches. That would have been a horrible thing if she has done that. That will make me weep. That will fill me with sorrow that she would do that. The Bible teaches that we are to save life, not kill. If it is going to be death, leave it to God. God knows who He wants to kill and make alive. That is His business, not our business.”

Asked if he would take responsibility for such incidents, Camping, of course, said no.  “I don’t have any responsibility. I can’t be responsible for anybody’s lives,” he explained. “I am only teaching the Bible. I am not teaching what I believe, as if I am the authority. I am just simply teaching what the Bible says. And I don’t have spiritual rule over anybody.”

You bet, Harold.  A world-wide radio ministry, billboards up and down I-95 among other locales, and a whole passel of media appearances and you aren’t holding yourself out as an authority.  Owning up to responsibility for one’s actions is a Christian imperative.

Of course, Camping’s prediction that Jesus would return May 21 was not the first time he made a false prophecy. He previously forecast Christ’s return in 1994.  In the aftermath of his little “error”, Camping has adjusted his prediction for the end of the world to Oct. 21 of this year.

Just a couple of thoughts from the 25th Chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew.  ”And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (v. 36)

This episode illustrates a number of points, but, two chiefly come to mind.  First, there is a danger in Bible prophecy.  If you hear such teachings, you are well served to ignore them as our Lord directs.  You may even wish to direct so-called prophets to that 25th chapter of St. Matthew, although such folks are not typically swayed by actual Scripture, preferring, instead, their own “interpretations”.  As well, this incredibly sad episode tells us that words have consequences and, especially those of us involved in Christian teaching, Bible study or apologetic need to “set a coal upon our lips” before speaking.  Those yearning for the true faith are listening, and woe unto us if we lead others astray.

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