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957Sunday's Belfast blog from Jon Kennedy

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  • Jon Kennedy
    Dec 29, 2013

      Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
      his soj
      ourn in Northern Ireland'

      My Google+ diary and Belfast blog

      Jon Kennedy        
      JONAL ENTRY 1364 | SUNDAY, DECEMBER 29 2013

      Today's Scripture: . . . when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother.

      From St. Paul's letter to the Galatians, chapter 1,
      from today's Orthodox lectionary readings.
      See the homiletical thought below.

      Today's diary

      St. Ignatius (my Orthodox parish, about a half-hour's walk from where I live in Belfast) had no matins service today, so I was not able to get a ride to church with Marda and Ward when they were on their way to Townsend Presbyterian, as St. Ignatius would have still not been open if I'd arrived that early. So I had more time to begin today's blog content on Google+, which resulted in today's homiletical thought being the longest I have done thus far. It's not a sermon, but it's nudging toward that.

      Marda is somewhat under the weather with a cold, so we also did not join the usual Sunday afternoon Dock Walk. And Townsend Presbyterian has also suspended the Sunday evening service for tonight in honor of the fifth day of Christmas, so it is one of the quietest days since...well, the first day of Christmas.

      Today's weather has been similar to yesterday's. Some sunshine before noon, with mist and light rain later in the day. It seemed warmer on the way to church than when returning, though I didn't check my temperature app.

      Today's Christmas fare

      For the fifth day of Christmas

      Consider today's Christmas fare a bonus to the Chuckle department. Lots of people go to therapy for their mental stresses they feel over "the holidays"; their joy in the season seems to fall short of some societal expectation or norm. But you might not have thought of some of the mental gymnastics the characters in this cartoon go through at this time of year (reposted from a Facebook post).


      Today's quotes

      ."...I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because Jesus said, ‘If you receive a little child, you receive me,’” said Mother Teresa. “So every abortion is the denial of receiving Jesus, is the neglect of receiving Jesus. It is really a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself.” She said this to an audience that included some of the most pro-abortion politicians in American history: Bill and Hillary Clinton and Al Gore. Here's a link to an article that gives more context.

      Homiletical thought:

      Today's epistle reading parallels the Gospel passage in that both the infant Jesus and his family in the Gospel take a trip to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod, and here Paul describes a trip that he took from Damascus to Arabia, perhaps under some panic about the great changes taking place in his thinking. He then (after calming down, perhaps) returned to Damascus to sort out in his own thinking all that God was doing in his life. That process took him three years, and ever since, three years has been considered the norm for a theological education for believers who intend to serve God full-time for their whole lives.

      So far as we know, however, Paul had no teachers to lead him through the curriculum required for a theological education. His only teacher was the Lord, with Paul being the one who determined what subject to "read," as they say in Oxford, next. This is very similar to the educational process that most monastic community members—men and women alike—undergo before they begin teaching in the church, and like the process of preparation that the prophets of Israel underwent. As Paul said in a passage looked at here earlier, he was excellently prepared in his younger life to know the theological issues and questions facing Israel, and he also was steeped in the history of the Old Testament leaders and teachers (the patriarchs, kings, and prophets).

      Though it probably came as a shock to him that God wanted him to go not to Israel but to the Gentiles, he had no doubt about the way he ought to finish his preparation and his education before embarking on his ministry.

      Note that yesterday's reference in Jesus' teaching about justice for the Gentiles is being fulfilled here, in Paul's being called to be their teacher.

      Note also Paul's testimony here against abortion: "he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace...."
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      § I have now uploaded over 2,700 photos and videos, mostly from my current visit to Northern Ireland, but also including several hundred photos and videos from my summer in Pennsylvania (2012), and some photos of the family, on my Flickr site. Most of these are now organized by sets. Click here for the Flicker site.
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      Feedback: Please comment on anything in today's blog on the Facebook and Google+ pages linked above, and of course via email to jrk@....

      Feedback is always welcome.

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      Please pray for my mission to Northern Ireland. You can read my background overview of this undertaking here. My residence/postal address is 227 Crumlin Road, Belfast, Northern Ireland BT14 7DY, UK. Mobile: 44 7455 980890.

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      © 2013 JRK

      Jon R. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis Writer in Residence