From the Bishop: Advent 2017
December 1st, 2017
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ –
As the season of Advent dawns, I am considering how to “prepare the way” in my life for the celebration of Christ’s nativity, and more importantly, for his certain return at the end of days. I’m sure I am not alone in hoping to deeply engage with that work in the weeks to come. There is an unmistakable sense of urgency in the air just now, which seems to be partly about the season of Advent, but may be in even greater part about the hard challenges and wonderful possibilities set before Christ’s disciples at this moment in time. Christians all over the world are asking how to be more faithful disciples as we wait to see what the Holy Spirit has in mind for the future of Christ’s Church and the kingdom of God.
I read a compelling and sobering opinion piece this week about the power of liturgy, and the willing – even eager – capitulation of Christian people to the worship of a false, powerful and uniquely American god. The article, (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/17/opinion/sunday/escape-roy-moores-evangelicalism.html) by Molly Worthen, accounts how Americans are profoundly shaped by their constant diet of TV news. Worthen points out that the hours so many of us spend in front of the TV (and other media) not only informs us about current events, but–like church liturgy in its repetition, rhythm and presentation of a particular world view–shapes us as human beings and impacts what we believe about ourselves and the world around us.
Worthen’s critique is principally directed at conservative media outlets and the idolatries of white supremacy and consumer culture that are touted as gospel in a non-stop, 24-hour broadcast cycle. But to be sure, progressive media outlets just as reliably preach their own version of truth that is often equally inconsonant with the Gospel of Jesus. The point is not whether news from the left or right is “better,” but rather that spending hours of every day letting the media feed us whatever they wish, is imperiling our souls. While Worthen doesn’t say it, I will: if we spent as much time in church worship, Bible study, prayer and discipleship groups as we did watching cable news, our Church and our world – not to mention our individual human lives – would be entirely different.
Advent is all about readying ourselves for Christ’s coming into the world as he arrives to usher in an entirely different reality. The classic disciplines of the season – watching, waiting, praying and preparing – all point to the need we share to change how our lives are oriented in this here and now, so that when Christ comes, we are at the ready.
For me this year, “preparing the way” is going to include committing to spend more time every week in worship, study, prayer, and in service to the poor, than I do consuming any media version of news and opinion.
Molly Worthen quotes the philosopher James K. A. Smith from his book, Desiring the Kingdom, in her opinion piece: “We are, ultimately, liturgical animals because we are fundamentally desiring creatures. We are what we love.”
I can hardly think of a better time or season than this one to show what we love best, by worshipping aright.
Faithfully Yours in Christ –
+ Bishop Barker
Be sure to like us on Facebook, to see even more: https://www.facebook.com/dionebraska/
*Spoiler Alert: The following contains spoilers for Thor: Ragnarok.* Ragnarok is perhaps the most enduring aspect of Norse mythology. The heroic gods of Asgard and their treacherous foes meet in a final battle that spells doom for both. The Einherjar (who died gloriously in battle) and the.... Read Full Article
(See Index/Archive at the top right of this page for all articles.)
Advent Prayer Offerings from the Diocese of Nebraska Creation Community The light outside us grows dimmer; the light within us grows brighter. Collect for the First Sunday of Advent (p. 211, The Book of Common Prayer) Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put.... Read Full Article
As the season of Advent dawns, I am considering how to “prepare the way” in my life for the celebration of Christ’s nativity, and more importantly, for his certain return at the end of days. I’m sure I am not alone in hoping to deeply engage with that work in the weeks to come. There.... Read Full Article
Preached at St. Augustine’s, Omaha Christ the King, Year A, November 26, 2017 Matthew 25:31-46, What kind of king is Jesus? It’s a pleasure to be with you this morning. My name is Heidi Haverkamp and I am an old seminary friend of Ben Varnum’s, here as a guest of your diocese because of.... Read Full Article
Episcopalians throughout the diocese will celebrate a unique “Nebraska Liturgy” on Sunday, January 7, 2018 to mark the beginning of the diocesan sesquicentennial. In a letter to the diocese, the Right Reverend J. Scott Barker encouraged Nebraska Episcopalians “to raise their voice in beautiful.... Read Full Article
*Spoiler alert: The following contains extensive discussion of the plot of Blade Runner 2049.* One of the fun things about having friends who watch the same kinds of movies you do is the dialogue that happens when two of you have different responses to the same film. Sometimes I love a movie.... Read Full Article
Collect for All Soul’s Day Eternal God, our maker and redeemer, grant us, with all the faithful departed, the sure benefits of your Son’s saving passion and glorious resurrection that, in the last day, when you gather up all things in Christ, we may with them enjoy the fullness of your.... Read Full Article
(The following is Rev. Mavis Hall’s presentation of the Bishop’s Cross at Annual Council to The Very Reverend Catherine Scott.) I have the privilege of introducing this year’s clergy Bishop’s Cross award recipient. This person is someone I have looked up to as a mentor and.... Read Full Article
(The following is Fr. Benedict Varnam’s presentation of the Bishop’s Cross at Annual Council to Sandra Squires.) Good afternoon: Right Reverend Sir; members of the Annual Council; friends and family and visitors; One of the greatest privileges that clergy experience is to.... Read Full Article
2017 Council Homily Church of Our Savior Proper 24 – Year A October 20, 2017 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” – Matthew 22: 21 Well, given the challenges of loving one another across our political differences that I.... Read Full Article
Annual Council of the Diocese of Nebraska – 2017 My dear Brothers and Sisters and Christ – Grace to you and peace in the name of our Lord Jesus. This morning, I want to share three stories with you that illustrate a challenge, a strength and a sign of hope in this moment of our.... Read Full Article
Have you ever just started out on the wrong foot in some situation, or in some new relationship? I had that happen recently when I started my chaplain internship at the hospital: It was about two weeks in, and my first night working with a particular chaplain I had not yet met in person. When.... Read Full Article
*Spoiler alert: The following contains spoilers of Game of Thrones Season 7, used for illustrative purposes.* As a priest, and someone who believes in the importance of confessing one’s sins, I should confess that, for the past couple of months, I have been actively cheering for a romance.... Read Full Article
Last month, our Diocesan summer camp, Camp Canterbury, gathered with a storytelling theme; through our worship, discipleship groups, and workshops, we practiced telling our own stories, listening to the stories of others, and connecting our stories with the great story of God’s relationship with.... Read Full Article
Friday, September 29th (7 pm – 9:00 pm) Saturday, September 30th (8:30 am – 3:00 pm) St. David’s Episcopal Church 8800 Holdrege Street, Lincoln, NE The VISION of INVITE * WELCOME * CONNECT is… To change the culture of The Episcopal Church to move from maintenance to mission..... Read Full Article
And Jacob said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God and this is the gate of heaven.” Good morning. Yesterday, the Church commemorated Saint Mary Magdalene. Hers is a remarkable story, but probably not for the reasons many of you think. When I say.... Read Full Article
(See Index/Archive at the top right of this page for all articles.)