Enjoying the holidays? Looking forward to New Year’s Eve? Well, here is a video that could well sober you right up…
This in via The Christian Post:
Uganda – Islamic extremists threw acid on a church leader on Christmas Eve shortly after a seven-day revival at his church, leaving him with severe burns that have blinded one eye and threaten sight in the other.Bishop Umar Mulinde, 37, a sheikh (Islamic teacher) before his conversion to Christianity, was attacked on Saturday night (Dec. 24) outside his Gospel Life Church International building in Namasuba, about 10 kilometers (six miles) outside of Kampala. From his hospital bed in Kampala, he told Compass that he was on his way back to the site for a party with the entire congregation and hundreds of new converts to Christianity when a man who claimed to be a Christian approached him.
“I heard him say in a loud voice, ‘Pastor, pastor,’ and as I made a turn and looked at him, he poured the liquid onto my face as others poured more liquid on my back and then fled away shouting, ‘Allahu akbar [God is greater],’” Mulinde said, still visibly traumatized two days after the assault.
A neighbor and church members rushed him to a hospital in the Mengo area of Kampala, and he was then transferred to International Hospital Kampala.
“I have to continue fighting this pain – it is too much,” Mulinde said. “My entire body is in pain. Most of the night I miss sleep.”
His face, neck and arms bore deep black scars from the acid, and his lips were swollen.
“The burn caused by the acid is so severe that there is an urgent need for specialized treatment,” said area Christian Musa Baluku Symutsangira. “I suggest that he be flown outside the country as soon as possible; otherwise Mulinde might lose both of his eyes, coupled with the spread of the burns. The burns seemed to spread and go very deep. He might need some plastic surgery.”
A doctor told Compass that acid burns cover about 30 percent of his face and has cost him sight in one eye.
“We are doing all we can to save his other remaining eye and to contain the acid from spreading to other parts of the body,” the doctor said.
Mulinde’s shirt, tie and suit were in tatters after the attack…
Despicable! You can read more on the horrific attack here.
Has opened in Germany:
Germany – A church built entirely of ice and snow has opened in Bavaria — a century after villagers first built a snow church in an act of protest.
The church at Mitterfirmiansreut, near the Czech border, is more than 65 feet in length and boasts a tower. It’s made up of some 49,000 cubic feet of snow.
The structure was bathed in blue light as it opened Wednesday evening with a blessing from Dean Kajetan Steinbeisser.
But when the ancestors of today’s villagers built the first snow church in 1911, they weren’t thinking just of architectural achievement.
Steinbeisser says: “It was meant as an act of provocation — believers from the village got together and built a snow church because they didn’t have a church here.”
World should not allow Arab effort to deny Jewish connection to Jerusalem. ynetnews.com:
It’s the site where humanity received the gift of one God. It’s where God’s “shechina”, or presence, dwelt. Even the secular imagination, Jewish or not, has been shaped by the “Holy of Holies,” the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the most sacred site of the Jewish people.
It’s there that King David raised a sanctuary for the Ark of the Covenant and King Solomon and Herod built the Temples. This holy place – not Shenkin Street, Jerusalem’s Rehavia neighborhood, or Herzliya Pituach’s high-tech hub – prompted the Jews’ return to their land after two millennia of dispersion and pogroms.
In theory, Israel currently controls the Temple Mount. In reality, since 1967, when the Israeli army seized the “holy basin” from Jordanian forces, the Jewish state gave up religious freedom for the Jews.
This is one of the darkest chapters in modern Israel’s short history. Immediately after the liberation of Jerusalem, Moshe Dayan handed over the keys of the Temple Mount to the Waqf, the Muslim religious trust that serves as custodian of the site, which includes four minarets and the holiest Jewish site in the world. It was a disastrous decision.
Threatened by Arab countries, Israeli authorities just closed the Mughabri Bridge, preventing Jews and Christians from entering Temple Mount. Historically it should be noted that only under Israeli rule was the site open for everyone, Muslims, Christians and Jews. The Waqf is now attempting to deliberately destroy all archaeological evidence of Jewish claims to this site, while using terror and intimidation to impose its exclusive claim to Temple Mount.
The Waqf has removed every sign of ancient Jewish presence at the site. At the entrance, a Waqf sign says “The Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard and everything in it is Islamic property.” Today Jews are barred from praying on the Mount and are not even allowed to carry any holy articles with them. With Muslim observers supervising visits, Israeli police have frequently arrested Jews for various violations, such as singing or reciting a prayer even in a whisper.
This week, a Jewish woman was arrested following claims by police and Waqf officials that they noticed she was praying on Temple Mount. Why is it a crime for a Jew to mention God’s name on Temple Mount? And why is the State of Israel complicit in enforcing this anti-Semitic rule?
European autocrats and the global media are also trying to downplay the Jewish connection to the site. Jewish archeologist Gabi Barkai stated that “it’s a lie more terrible than the denial of the Holocaust, yet connected to it.” UN and EU funded textbooks in the Palestinian areas all repeat the canard denying any Jewish legitimacy in the “Noble Sanctuary.”
The World Council of Churches, the largest umbrella for the Protestant Churches, in its “Promised Land” conference in Switzerland denied any Jewish connection with the Mount. Recently, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Vatican’s Council for Interreligious Dialogue, just asked to place some Israeli holy places around Temple Mount under Vatican or international authority.
“The part of Jerusalem within the wall – with the holy sites of the three religions – is humanity’s heritage”, Tauran said. “The sacred and unique character of the area must be safeguarded and it can only be done with a special, internationally guaranteed statute.”
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama’s plan also designates the Old City as an “international zone.”
It’s not only Chief Palestinian Justice Sheik Taysir Tamimi who declared the Jewish temples “never existed.” The supposedly more moderate Sari Nusseibeh also claimed that “the historical ties and attachments of the Palestinians precede any Israeli claim to Jerusalem.”
Erasing the cultural Jewish heritage in Israel means erasing the right of Jews to live in their native land. Meanwhile, the Palestinians just planned the targeting of another Jewish holy site, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. They will ask UNESCO to formally recognize their cultural attachment to the site in February, a move only made possible by their admission to the UN body two months ago.
Lies are obsessive: The Jews, said Arafat, have never been in Jerusalem and the Temple never existed. This canard was repeated since. As Joseph Goebbels famously said, if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. Next time they will say that the Jews never existed as a people. Israel should mobilize the international community to stop this bulldozing of history.
A good read by the Rt Revd Dr Prof NT Wright with which to start the day off:
Jesus’ birth usually gets far more attention than its role in the New Testament warrants. Christmas looms large in our culture, outshining even Easter in the popular mind.
Yet without Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 we would know nothing about it. Paul’s gospel includes Jesus’ Davidic descent (Rom. 1:3), but apart from that could exist without mention of his birth. One can be justified by faith with no knowledge of it. Likewise, John’s wonderful theological edifice has no need of it: God’s glory is revealed not in the manger; but on the cross.
If you try to express any New Testament theology without Jesus’ death and resurrection, you will find it cannot be done. “Man shall live for evermore,” says the song, “because of Christmas Day.” No, replies the New Testament; because of Calvary, Easter and Pentecost.
Nevertheless, the birth stories have become a test case in various controversies. If you believe in miracles, you believe in Jesus’ miraculous birth; if you don’t, you don’t. Both sides turn the question into a shibboleth, not for its own sake but to find out who’s in and who’s out.
The problem is that “miracle,” as used in these controversies, is not a biblical category. The God of the Bible is not a normally absent God who sometimes “intervenes.” This God is always present and active, often surprisingly so.
Likewise, if you believe the Bible is “true,” you will believe the birth stories; if you don’t, you won’t. Again, the birth stories are insignificant in themselves; they function as a test for beliefs about the Bible.
The birth stories have also functioned as a test case for views of sexuality. Some believers in the virginal conception align this with a low view of sexuality and a high view of perpetual virginity. They believe the story not because of what it says about Jesus, but because of what it says about sex-namely, that it’s something God wouldn’t want to get mixed up in. This, too, has its mirror image: those who cannot imagine anything good about abstinence insist that Mary must have been sexually active.
More significantly, the birth stories have played a role within different views of the incarnation. Those who have emphasized Jesus’ divinity have sometimes made the virginal conception central. Those who have emphasized Jesus’ humanity have often felt that the virginal conception would mark him off from the rest of us.
None of these arguments bears much relation to what either Matthew or Luke actually says. But before we turn to them, two more preliminary remarks…
Read on here.
And from the conclusion:
If the first two chapters of Matthew and the first two of Luke had never existed, I do not suppose that my own Christian faith, or that of the church to which I belong, would have been very different.
But since they do, and since for quite other reasons I have come to believe that the God of Israel, the world’s creator, was personally and fully revealed in and as Jesus of Nazareth, I hold open my historical judgment and say: If that’s what God deemed appropriate, who am I to object?
In an interview with Catholic magazine 30 Giorni, Riccardo Di Segni, Chief Rabbi of Rome speaks out against the rise in Messianic movements.
SOS fake Messiah. Alarm bells have been raised within the Jewish population, in light of the boom in Messianic movements. The “Messiah” is different from the prophet, in that contrary to the latter, he does not proclaim himself to be a simple intermediary, but a direct incarnation of the divinity or of another divine principle. However, the difference between the two is not always clear. Indeed, it is not unusual for some prophets, who have gained a certain notoriety, to declare that they are of divine descent or considered by the followers as the Messiah.
Among those who condemn the risk posed by these Messianic movements, is Riccardo Di Segni, Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community of Rome (the oldest Jewish Diaspora) who aired his opinions in an interview with Italian Catholic magazine 30 Giorni. “These Messianic movements present themselves to the Jewish world as something new; their mission is aimed solely at Judaism – Chief Rabbi Di Segni said. Judaism does not carry out any missions outside the Jewish community and our traditions are conserved through experimental and ancient mechanisms: schools, synagogues and the family”…
Christians say that Christ is the Messiah, that Christianity is Messianism by definition. Judaism sees the Messianic idea as one of many ideas. It is characterised by a tension, a waiting and Judaism could theoretically exist without the Messianic prophesy being fulfilled…
Read the whole piece here.
With husbands deployed or off preparing for war, some young wives at this sprawling Army installation have spent much of their marriages so far alone.
Faced with long periods of separation and worry over the next combat tour, a group of wives mostly in their late 20s and early 30s are drawn together weekly to seek spiritual support to bolster the strength of their marriages.
Mya Parker, 27, saw both sides of the average military marriage and the strain that years of combat duty can do to a relationship. She served in the Army for four years on active duty before helping to start the Lantern, a nondenominational faith group for military wives and girlfriends outside Fort Campbell, Ky.
“The military, because of the complexities of the deployment, can have more uncertainties,” she said. “The reason God is the answer is because scripture says that He has never changed. From the beginning of time to the end of time, He is unchanging.”
While not solely sponsored by any one church, these wives meet weekly in small, informal groups of eight to 12 at their homes to study the Bible’s teachings and how to apply them to today’s modern military marriage.
Parker and her husband, an Army aviator, both served in Afghanistan with the famed 101st Airborne Division, a unit that has been heavily impacted by the wars there and in Iraq since 2001. During her Army career, Parker saw deployed husbands anxious about their wives back home and wives struggling to communicate with husbands a world away.
In the privacy of these small weekly gatherings, the wives don’t hold back their fears about the realities of war.
“We don’t sugar-coat it and say, `Oh, it will be great, it will be fine. This deployment is going to fly by.’ To be honest, it’s hard and you have good days and bad days,” said Mandy Costello, 29, who has been married five years through her husband’s three deployments.
With less than 1 percent of Americans serving in the military, the lifestyle of a military wife can sometimes feel isolating. But when they get together, these wives speak the same language that is peppered with military acronyms as they share advice for keeping marriages intact, when sometimes months go by without kisses or hugs from their spouses.
“If you don’t know what to expect, you feel alone, you feel isolated and you feel like you are the only one going through this, when you know there are thousands of soldiers deployed with your husband at the same time. It still feels like you are the only one,” said Holly Klich, 31, who has been married four years to a soldier who has had two combat tours.
Besides the Lantern meetings, many of these wives participate in the military’s family readiness groups, which provide information about deployments and organize events and classes for military spouses and families.
Parker said group members come from a variety of faith backgrounds, including Mormon, Catholic, Church of Christ, Pentecostal, but she said the group is open to all faiths. The group also does public service projects that Parker said aren’t faith-focused and are open to anyone who wants to join them.
The Army has also been focused on improving military marriages and has invested in a marriage counseling program run by unit chaplains called Strong Bonds, which is popular with soldiers of all faiths.
Parker and others said they need additional strength from their faith to be resilient.
Parker points to the Bible’s emphasis on grace, patience, kindness and forgiveness as keys to a healthy marriage, even those tested by war.
“It has made me much more patient with him dealing with what he has been through and honoring that he ultimately doesn’t belong to me,” Parker said. “He belongs to the Lord.”
The weekly prayer meetings have helped many wives reconnect with their husbands, many who have recently returned from the 101st Airborne’s yearlong deployment to Afghanistan. Parker said many wives expect a joyous reunion, but many couples have to learn how to live together again.
Vanessa James, a 30-year-old who had twin boys while her husband was deployed, said she prayed that she wouldn’t be resentful that her husband missed so much while he was gone.
“He has been home for three months now and I can honestly say that I feel closer to my husband than ever before, and I think it’s because I approached this reintegration with a servant’s heart,” she said.
With the support of other wives, Parker said a deployment can also be a blessing if women take the opportunity to grow in their faith and their marriages.
“My number one piece of advice, even if someone didn’t grow up in the church and isn’t a believer, is to really take the time. Deployment is an amazing time to pursue a relationship with God for maybe the first time,” she said…
Speaking of Church brawl, this time it’s between clergy in Bethlehem at the Church of the Nativity. Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic priests and monks who were armed with brooms got into it while cleaning the Church. Palestinian riot police were called in:
A Christmas cleaning of the Church of the Nativity turned into scuffles on Wednesday between rival Christian clerics zealously guarding denominational turf at the holy site.
Brooms and fists flew inside the church marking the birthplace of Jesus as some 100 priests and monks of the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic churches brawled.
Palestinian police, bending their heads to squeeze through the church’s low “door of humility,” rushed in with batons flailing to restore order.
“It was a trivial problem that … occurs every year,” said police Lieutenant-Colonel Khaled al-Tamimi. “Everything is all right and things have returned to normal,” he said. “No one was arrested because all those involved were men of God.”
Administration of the 6th century Bethlehem church, the oldest in the Holy Land, is shared by Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian clerics.
Any perceived encroachment of jurisdictional boundaries within the church can set off a row, especially during the annual cleaning for Orthodox Christmas celebrations, which will be held next week.
What a pathetic witness. See for yourself:
… is an episode of infanticide by the King of Judea, Herod the Great. According to the Gospel of Matthew Herod orders the execution of all young male children in the village of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth has been announced to him by the Magi. The incident, like others in Matthew, is described as the fulfillment of a passage in the Old Testament read as prophecy, in this case a reading of Jeremiah: “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying, A voice was heard in Ramah, Weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children.”
The infants, known in the Church as the Holy Innocents, have been claimed as the first Christian martyrs. Some accounts number them at more than ten thousand, but more conservative estimates put their number in the low dozens…
whose children suffered at the hands of Herod,
though they had done no wrong:
by the suffering of your Son
and by the innocence of our lives
frustrate all evil designs
and establish your reign of justice and peace;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Chairs fly and punches thrown as all hell breaks loose among 400-strong congregation.
It has to be: The Daily Mail.
A priest today described how he feared parishioners’ lives were in danger when a fight broke out in his church during midnight mass on Christmas Eve.
Monsignor Vincent Harvey said heavy chairs were thrown down an aisle at St Edmund’s Church, Southampton, during the fight in the middle of the service on Saturday night.
Police patrol cars and an ambulance raced to the historic church on The Avenue, Southampton, as other members of the congregation tried to break up the fight.
The priest managed to continue the mass to his shocked but uninjured congregation after police arrived to arrest those involved.
‘You often expect some drunken behaviour at the Christmas Midnight Mass but this was actually quite shocking,’ said Father Vincent Harvey.
‘But then about three or four minutes later, there were scuffles going on. Then it was obvious it was more than just a scuffle, there was actually a fight going on.’
‘I had to halt the Mass because the congregation were in considerable danger as chairs were being hurled down the aisle. Some of them were made of steel and could easily have injured people in the pews.’
He continued: ‘The person involved started throwing fairly heavy chairs down a side aisle, endangering people’s lives.
‘People were frightened that it was happening. If they’d hit anybody they could have been badly injured’…
‘Some of the congregation were worried about the statues in the church getting smashed but I told them not to be concerned about those, just to make sure they didn’t get injured themselves’…
Read more here.
The priest said: ‘I just asked people for a bit of silence so we could recollect ourselves and to pray for the person involved.
‘My sermon had been about how we are broken people, fragile people, and I said he is one of the very people I’m talking about.’
Ah, yes, Southampton…