Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tomorrow's Antiques Today

When we lived in the United Kingdom, one of my favorite stores was a place on the Ruislip High Street called Tomorrow's Antiques Today. The point of the store's name, of course, is that one would be encouraged to purchase a piece of furniture with a view toward enjoying it as a genuine antique in the future.

This idea of buying something now in order to use and enjoy it for decades is becoming less prevalent in our easy-come-easy-go disposable culture. And this is not solely due to consumer attitudes. It is obvious that many products - particularly those based on advancing technology - are designed (as well as purchased) with the idea that they will be obsolete within a certain number of years. Homeowners know that appliances often begin to fall apart or fail soon after the warranty period has expired. Likewise, fashions and trends change as they always have, and so forth.

At the same time, big money is being made in the sale of vintage articles - whether they be clothing, knick-knacks, or childhood memorabilia. We begin to think about that old 1967 Buick that we sold for $500, and wish that we had it back again. We're having a good life, but we hanker back to the "good old days" and parade the memories, photos, cassette recordings, or home videos again and again. And what fun that can be!

So where is this musing leading to? Just a simple acknowledgment that today is tomorrow's history. Someday we might wish that the events of today never happened, or that we could go back and change them. Or there may be many times that we remember today as a wonderful day and wish that we could re-live it. Either way, or somewhere in between, today has been a gift from God which we have used in various ways. And now, as we go to bed, today becomes part of our personal history!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Through the Dust

For those of you who might be interested in the history of deaconesses in the Anglican or Episcopal Churches, there is an interesting blog site called "Through the Dust" that I can recommend at

The blogger, Ormonde Plater, explains regarding the name of his site: The title of this blog reflects the folk etymology of diakonia, diakonos, and the like, which ancient Greeks believed came from two words meaning "through" and "dust."

Plater's daily entries are about both deacons and deaconesses. To give you a small taste, the first two paragraphs of today's entry read:

Elizabeth Ferard, first deaconess in the Church of England, founder of the Community of St. Andrew, died 18 April 1883.

The Lutherans were the first denomination to revive the order of deaconesses, a deaconess institution being founded at Kaiserwerth by Pastor Theodor Fliedner in 1836. His idea was to train and send women, two to each parish—one to nurse and one to teach. But his two successive wives had different ideas and realized that such deaconesses needed a “home” for community structure. The Bishop of London, Archibald Campbell Tait, visited the Kaiserswerth community of deaconesses...

Saturday, April 11, 2009


People sometimes groan, or stifle a groan, if I mention that my post-graduate work was in Theology AND Church History. It seems that for some, the word "history" itself defines all that can be dull and boring in life.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I would like to submit EIGHT specific values of Church History, as outlined by an old CPH junior high curriculum book. If you can think of others, please add them in the comments section at the end of this post!

1. Church History helps us see the fullness of the stature of Christ. His significance for our world is shown in 20 centuries of Christian history and in the lives of those committed to Christ.

2. By studying the proclamation and application of the Gospel in years past, we obtain a better understanding of how it can be taught and applied today.

3. Church History illustrates the indestructible character of the church. Christ Himself promised "The gates of Hades will not overcome it (Matthew 16:18)." Our Lord's protecting and merciful hand rests over His church through the ages until its final triumph.

4. Present-day worship and life in the church follow a pattern established in the past. The study of their development gives greater meaning to our worship and fellowship practices today.

5. The study of Church History reveals the unity that all Christians have in the Lord. It gives us a bond of fellowship with sainted Christians as well as those throughout the world today. At the same time, history explains the diversity and separation among Christians today.

6. Though history does not necessarily repeat itself, the present has many parallels with the past. A study of the past can help us prevent mistakes and solve problems. It can also help us safeguard against false beliefs and practices.

7. The trials and triumphs of dedicated Christians from the past can inspire us today and help us to be prepared for the trials we might face.

8. Church History reveals the impact of Christianity on non-Christian society. It can, therefore, help to shape our mission and our witness to the world.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Faithful Listening

Historians like to have their facts straight. Once all those ducks are in order, they feel comfortable in proceeding to logical and "correct" conclusions. The same sort of criteria should apply to our study of the Bible, and especially to our leadership of others in such study.

On Friday in one of my weekly Woman to Woman sessions, I presented some material with a historical quotation by Dr. Martin Luther, which was difficult for many of the group members to stomach. The exact nature of the quotation doesn't matter, but what does matter is the fact that these women questioned Luther on the basis of what was written in Scripture.

Though I had a good idea of what Luther meant in the quotation (through Lutheran eyes of course) my explanation sounded lame, and I had to agree that for our day and age, what Luther wrote in this instance could be better said with different words for today's population. Those different words would serve the purpose of making it clear that Luther is in agreement with the Bible, not opposed to it. Of course we don't want to put words in Luther's mouth, or more literally, at the end of his pen. But we do always want to go back to the Bible as our primary source for Christian teaching.

What really delighted me is that these women, many of them non-Lutherans, have learned that it was good and right to discern correct teaching only by going straight back to the Bible itself. I praised them for this, and reminded them that if anyone, including myself, ever taught them anything different from what the Bible says, that they are to question that teaching and take the teacher to task. My prayer is that they will continue to engage in such faithful listening, where their hearts take note of and discern all doctrine in light of God's Word.