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961Today's blog from Belfast

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  • Jon Kennedy
    Jan 2, 2014

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

      My Google+ diary and Belfast blog

      Jon Kennedy        

      Today's Scripture: Nikodemos, a ruler of the Jews. . . came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him." Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nikodemos said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born from above.' The Spirit blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, and you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

      From the Gospel of St. John, chapter 3,
      from today's Orthodox lectionary readings.
      See the homiletical thought below.
      Today's diary

      Yesterday's blog had a misstatement (or lie, if you prefer). I said we'd be off to the Dock Cafe for Taize chant prayers in the afternoon, but actually that part of the 24/7 Dock Church prayathon schedule was set for today. The mistake has something to do with the fact that yesterday was already "today" when we heard the announcement about the Taize part of the program being "tomorrow"; then we went to bed and, on rising, mistakenly thought it was already tomorrow though it was still yesterday. Got it? In any case, we still have not been to the Taize prayer portion of the prayathon.

      Afterward this evening, then, some of us are hoping to see a remastered and rereleased version of Cinema Paradiso, the 1988 Italian classic film about the role of movies in our lives, which I saw and probably reviewed in an earlier life. Note to Cinema Paradiso fans: An American film, The Majestic, which has what I consider the best work Jim Carrey has ever done, has some thematic overlaps; both are paeans to classic movie places in kinder and gentler times.

      News flash: Though a U.S. Supreme Court justice has handed down an injunction saying the "contraception mandate" in the nation's monstrous-nightmarish socialized medicine law cannot be enforced against religious ministries with scruples against artificial contraception or sex outside marriage, the administration is still standing its ground against religious freedom, the Catholic Church, and anyone else who believes promoting promiscuity is beyond the public justice mandate. Details here.

      Today's Christmas fare

      For the ninth day of Christmas, I am sharing one of several icons of the Nativity that are part of Orthodox Christmas, both in worship and on Orthodox Christmas cards. Click the icon to see its various parts explained on another page.

      Click here

      Today's quotes
      On primacy in the church
      In the Holy Church of Christ, primacy belongs to her Head—our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man. According to St. Paul, the Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence (Col. 1:18).
      According to the apostolic teaching, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body (Eph. 1:17-23).
      — From a position paper by the Moscow
      patriarchate, Russian Orthodox Church
      Those who distance themselves from being a brother's keeper, should even more refrain from being anyone else's judge!
      — Synesio Lyra
      A poem posted on Facebook today by a friend, Barb Hakanen, in my home town:
      WINTER Poem

      It's winter in Pennsylvania
      And the gentle breezes blow
      Seventy miles an hour
      At thirty-five below
      She reported that a high of 10°F was forecast for today. Google tells me that's -12.222 in celsius.
      God tells us to accept what can't be changed, but to only accept what we can't change. If you can improve it, do so! "Anyone who knows the right thing to do but doesn't do it, sins," James 4:17.
      Rick Warren
      The right direction leads not only to peace but to knowledge.
      — C.S. Lewis
      Homiletical thought: In the Authorized (or King James) version of verse seven in this passage, we read, "do not marvel that I told you, 'you must be born again.'" And although Jesus spells out quite exactly what being born again means—that it is a matter of spiritual enlightenment involving baptism both in the spirit and in water—many seem to persist in believing that being born again is an experience of a great wave of warmth and enthusiasm for "spiritual things" brought on by a certain type of sermon preached in a certain kind of environment. A certain kind of invitation must be responded to by a certain kind of prayer. Many even seem to believe that being able to profess such an experience or sequence of events secures them a place in heaven regardless of whatever they do after experiencing it. All I can say to them is, "read it again; you're missing the point."

      Conversion experiences are often wonderful events and often their impact stays with people for the rest of their lives. But in many other cases it has been shown that such experiences are ephemeral. It's not the words of the prayer spoken but the intention of the heart that matters in repentance. It is not the experience that anyone should depend on, but the Lord himself and what He teaches and asks.
      §     §     §
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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.
      For more and more spontaneous posts, follow me onand (click on either icon to go to the site).

      Google+ works more automatically, so most of the pictures I post (excluding Flickr) are posted there. 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.

      §     §     §

      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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      C.S. Lewis Themes and Threads, is available for purchase at $2.99. Purchase supports the author'
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      © 2013 JRK
      Jon R. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis Writer in Residence