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Welcome to the LPC e-pistle!

The LPC e-pistle is designed for the friends and families of Langhorne Presbyterian Church and any others who happen by. Pastor Bill Teague shares weekly comments on the world, the life of faith and Langhorne Church. A weekly e-mail, sent by request, keeps members up to date on news and prayer concerns within the congregation. Langhorne Presbyterian Church is a warm, Christ-honoring congregation, and we’d love to have you stop by for a visit if you’re ever in our neighborhood. You can get directions to LPC here.

January 17 – Megxit: O Canada

How can we worry about impeachment when the Megxit story continues to unfold?

In case you have been off-planet for the past few weeks, Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan have decided to call it quits on cutting ribbons and waving to crowds.  The press has dubbed it Megxit. Oh, the pay is good and the hours aren’t bad, but it’s a younger brother job and there’s not much future in it. Harry and Meghan want out.

Apparently, the prodigal prince plans on gathering his young family and the bit of the inheritance he calls his own and taking a journey into a far country.  It turns out that Canada is the far country of choice. But not all Canadians are sure they should welcome Harry, Meghan, and the no longer senior royalty entourage. Maybe Canadians just don’t like the prospect of reckless living.

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s most important newspaper and just this week spoke out against a Megxit to Canada.  The opinion piece was titled, Harry and Meghan, and Why Members of the Royal Family Can’t Live in Canada. You ought to read it. I had not expected such theological insight from Canada’s most important newspaper.

The editorial begins by reminding its readers the House of Windsor is Canada’s royal house, too. But there’s a big difference on this side of the Atlantic. The Canadian monarchy is virtual; it neither rules nor resides. Our royals don’t live here. They reign from a distance. Close to our hearts, far from our hearths.

It goes on to say, Canadians like their monarchy, and visits by the Queen and other members of the Royal Family tend to produce outpourings of public enthusiasm. But while the people who embody the Crown pay visits from time to time, they don’t set up a home on the premises.

How Canadian are so many of us American Christians.

Jesus is King. Christians have been saying that for a long time, long before Kanye West.

C.S. Lewis plays with the image in Mere Christianity, and I love the picture he paints. Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.

Yes, we have a monarch, King Jesus.  Maybe we could start calling Christmas “Christxit.” He left his Father’s throne above, we sing.

But to borrow the Globe and Mail’s brilliant insight, like Canadians we modern Christians prefer a virtual monarchy that neither rules nor resides. Reign from a distance, King Jesus.

Christmas and Easter, sappy stories with happy endings: Jesus sometimes produces outpourings of public enthusiasm.  But please, Lord, don’t set up home on the premises.

Of course, that is exactly what Jesus did.  He set up home on the premises. Our premises. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:14)  He intends to be close to heart and hearth. No virtual King, he.

Taylor Hudson, the great missionary, is credited with the line, “If Jesus is not Lord of all, he is not Lord at all.”

Too often we want to live in the far country, our lives spent in reckless living. We want a Lord who is not Lord at all. A virtual king will take no notice of our reckless love for injustice and petty pleasure. He won’t hear our reckless gossip and slander or see our reckless rejection of the outsider. A virtual king won’t care that we like his likeness on the money we use to satisfy our selfish longing – that even with his picture on our currency, it is mammon by any other name.

How Canadian we are.  We want a virtual King. We don’t mind if he visits from time to time, but, please Lord, don’t set up a home on the premises.

See you Sunday

January 10 – When Grace Abounds

It’s like one of those stories of the unexpected check arriving in the mail and it’s exactly the amount you need to pay the bill of the unexpected expense. I would dismiss such stories as just too cheesy except for Becky and I having experienced just such grace many years ago in our tight budget years.

This is a story with less of the unexpected, but more of seeing grace and its amazing work.

Chapter one begins nearly a decade ago and mostly is not my story to tell, but for the fact that at the very end I have a small role to play.  One of our LPC physicians had walked with a patient on a long journey through what would be a terminal illness.  The care given was the best medicine could provide, but, more, it was personal and caring and filled with faith.  In time our doctor would share his Christian faith with a faithful patient and her family and friends.  The patient would speak of God’s presence in her life even through the darkest times. Our doctor prayed with her and sometimes when appointments and procedures were scheduled around the doctor’s mission trips to Guatemala, he spoke of his sense of calling and the joy he found in following Christ to that faraway place.

When death’s dark shadow finally fell, family and friends – and the physician – grieved deeply, but not as those without hope. Continue reading

January 3 – The Rise of a None

“The rise of the nones” is the attention-grabbing phrase used to describe the well-documented increase in the percentage of Americans who, when queried by survey researchers about their religious identification, say “none.” 

So begins a recent report from Gallup.  As is frequently noted, the “rise of the nones” is not necessarily the “rise of the atheists.”  In fact, for all the noise made by the celebrity atheists, atheism is not doing much better than organized religion in capturing the affection and loyalty of modern Americans.  Simply put, when the pollster asks one of us to check a box to describe our religious identity fewer of us are checking Catholic or Protestant (mainline or evangelical), Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu.  More and more of us are choosing “none of the above.”  Hence, the “rise of the nones.” Continue reading

December 27 – Happy New Year

Our God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home. 

The words are from Isaac Watt’s hymn interpretation of Psalm 90. They have spoken to the hearts of God’s people since the Psalmist first wrote them and for 300 years as English speaking Christians have sung them.

Should the Lord honor our plans, 2020 will be the year I cross the finish line as my 45 years of full-time ministry come to an end.  Becky and are looking forward with eager expectation to the next season of life with our faithful God; he is, indeed, our hope for years to come. The year undoubtedly will bring reflections on his help in years past, as well. Continue reading

December 20 – A Christmas Homecoming: Chaos and Confusion

First, the graphic.  Ornamental cinderblock that reminds me of home.  My family’s 1960s house in suburban Southern California had the stuff all over the place, and it was meant to look modern.  It still reminds me of that house where we lived.

I’ve been thinking about Christmas Eve, and will say more about it in Sunday’s sermon.  Not so much the nativity account in Luke’s gospel, but the ways we remember and celebrate Christmas Eve in the church.  This coming Tuesday may be my last time leading a Christmas Eve worship service.  By rough count I think I may have attended nearly a hundred Christmas Eve services of various sorts and I have led or helped lead around 75 of those services.  That’s a lot of Christmas Eve experience.  I have an idea of who’s going to show up on Tuesday and what to expect from them.

I don’t remember much if anything about Christmas Eve, 1969 – fifty Christmas Eves ago, except that I am pretty sure I went to the worship service at our church with whichever of my brothers and sisters my parents could persuade or coerce to join them, and that I must have been more confused that Christmas Eve than I have been any Christmas Eve since. Continue reading