How will the world know the Coming One?

Bible Challenge                Day 12 – Genesis 31-33; Psalm 11; Matthew 11

In the reading from the Gospel of St. Matthew, appointed for today through the Bible Challenge, we encounter two of John’s disciples questioning Jesus.  Upon answering their question, He then addresses the crowd – challenging them to consider what they themselves believe about John, and thus about Him.  He warns them by presenting them with His condemnation to those who failed to hear the prophecy of the Kingdom and repent.  Finally, he concludes by exhorting the multitudes to come to Him and submit themselves to the Kingdom of God that they might find that which their souls are seeking.

Many people are confused by this question because modern translations make it seem as if the question came from the Baptist.  As such, it seems as if John the Baptist – who prophesied of the Messiah and declared himself unworthy to baptize Jesus – was confused as to the identity of the Christ.  The Church Fathers state that John sent his disciples to Jesus in order to point them to Jesus: for as the Baptist said in the Gospel of John, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  He sent his disciples to Jesus that they might become followers of Christ.  In their skepticism (and distrust of their master, the Baptist), they pose the question.  They are then challenged to return to return to the Baptist and bear witness to Christ.

In this time of denominational decline, people are skeptical – yet seeking those who represent the Coming One.  They approach the Church and ask: “Are you those who represent the Coming One, or do we look for another?”  How can we answer – how must we answer?

We are confronted by Jesus’ answer, and we must ask ourselves: “By our witness, do the blind see and the lame walk?  Have those deemed unclean been cleansed…do the deaf hear?  Are the spiritually, emotionally, socially dead raised up and have the poor had the true good news preached to them?”

It’s no wonder the masses don’t find in us an authentic witness…it’s no wonder they “look for another.”

And as they walk away from the Church, our Lord compels us to ask: “What do we go into the wilderness to see?  What do we go into the Concrete Jungle everyday to see?”


Truly, beloved, the living out there is hard!  And amidst this violence, the Kingdom itself breaks through “violently” (Matt. 11:12, 10:34).  We, therefore, ought act with force against the powers that assault the people of God, “exerting all earnestness and desire to enter the reality of the Kingdom.  For this martyrs shed their blood, making their confession of faith, being ‘made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men’ (1 Cor. 4:9).  The Kingdom of Heaven belongs not to the sleeping or lazy.  Rather, the violent take it by force.”  May we be diligent in our fight to usher in the Kingdom of God that His children might recognize the Coming One!  Amen!

Cry Out in the Wilderness

A sermon from the Second Sunday of Advent, in preparation for the Incarnation, the text is taken from the Gospel of Luke 3:1-6.  In this sermon, Fr. Ballentine encourages the faithful at St. Thomas Episcopal in Coral Gables, to be odd – as John the Baptist was odd and to Cry Out! in the wilderness around us…proclaiming the Glory of the Incarnate Lord!

Settling Matters of Pastoral Abuse? Heaven Forbid!

Another reason why I hate church…

Back in September 2010, two men (Anthony Flagg and Maurice Robinson) accused megachurch pastor, Eddie Long of sexually abusing (see here) them when they were 16 years old.  Then two more men (Jamal Parris and Spencer LeGrande) joined the lawsuit.  The claim was that as part of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church’s “Youth Academy,” Eddie Long “coerced them into having sex with him in exchange for lavish trips, cars and cash.”

Today, we learn that Eddie Long, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and LongFellows Youth Academy have reached a settlement with the young men who accused Mr. Long of sexually abusing them.

One of the plaintiffs allege that Long, “engaged in sexual touching and other sexual acts.”  Yet, this man is a so-called “bishop” of the Church Universal.  And while yes, this matter was brought to court and legal matter can be settled, how does the Church move to seek civil settlement for matters of pastoral abuse?

Heaven Forbid!

The Priesthood (or the Ministry) is a sacred trust.  In the Ancient Church it is a Sacrament.  As Fr. Anthony M. Coniaris says, “A Sacrament is a divine rite instituted by Christ and/or the Apostles which through visible signs conveys to us the hidden grace of God.”  As a Sacrament, through the Priesthood we are supposed to be drawn nearer to God.

Yet, it is instances like the Eddie Long Saga (and the Catholic Priest debacle, amongst others) that do irreparable damage to the Gospel and the Church.  And while the civil ramifications might be abated, the Church (in this instance New Birth Missionary Baptist Church) should not abdicate its responsibility to defend the Faith.

Civil Settlement for Matters of Pastoral Abuse? Heaven Forbid!

In response to the settlement, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church issued a “Resolution Statement,” (see here) the highlight of which (at least, for me) says: “This decision was made to bring closure to this matter and to allow us to move forward with the plans God has for this ministry.”  But, how does the Church bring closure to a malfeasance of pastoral duty through civil means?

On the Sunday after the allegations, Eddie Long told his congregation: “This thing I’m gonna fight.”  And, if indeed Eddie Long is innocent then fight he should…if not for the sake of his own integrity, certainly for the sake of the integrity of the Church and the Faith.  Yet, either Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church are not concerned with their own integrity and that of the Faith, or both Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church know that their integrity has been compromised and now seek simply to save face for themselves, at the expense of the Faith.

Civil Settlement for Matters of Pastoral Abuse? Heaven Forbid!

Again, this is another reason why I hate church!  For time and time again, the Church seems more concerned with protecting its vaunted stature, rather than humbling itself that Christ might be exalted.

Certainly, in civil matters all have the right to settle.  And, in this instance, all exercised that option.  Yet, people are looking for the Church to be above the fray.  Maybe by now most of us expect the Church to succumb to human fallibility.  Yet, deep inside we still hope for the Church to live up to the call of the Faith.  For if the Church (which is the Body of Christ) cannot “walk worthy of the calling to which (it) is called,” then how can we?