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Who is My Neighbour? Introducing Mr. Perkins

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Who is My Neighbour? Introducing Mr. Perkins by Daniel F. Graves I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine.  His name is the Rev. William Perkins. Now, I should be perfectly clear that he resides only in the landscape of my imagination. Mr. Perkins, for so he liked to be called, was the parson of a small rural Ontario town which I shall call Hampton's Corners.  Hampton's Corners is one of those places that has escaped becoming a completely depressed rural town because it is in within commuting distance of the city.  It is not a bustling place, but neither is it a sleepy hollow.  Mr. Perkins has been the rector of that parish for a few years now, and this is a story from his early days in the parish.             First off, I should tell you something about Mr. Perkins.   He is a man of diminutive stature, of slight build, and full head of blond hair, somewhat greying due to the effects of ministry, but barely noticeable because of its blondness. He wears round glasses,

Mr. Perkins Explains the Trinity

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 Mr. Perkins Explains the Trinity by Daniel F. Graves Trinity Sunday is always a day of fear and trepidation for preachers.  How is one to explain the great mystery of the Triune God – the three in one, the one in three – in a mere ten minutes? Or even more problematically, how does one explain the unity of God in a diversity of persons, distinct yet undivided, in the dreaded two-minute children’s talk?  Perhaps Mr. Perkins was over-confident in his own abilities, or perhaps he was just naïve. Today, he would never even attempt it, but back in the days of his early ministry, during his early years in the little parish of Hampton’s Corners, he thought himself equal to the task.   His first go at explaining the Trinity was during a children’s talk on Trinity Sunday when he was a relatively new priest.  He self-confidently beckoned the children forward to the chancel steps and sat down amongst them. With hindsight, we can scarcely believe that he did not anticipate what was to follow and

Transfiguration - A Mr. Perkins Story in Pandemic Times

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 Transfiguration: A Mr. Perkins Story by Daniel F. Graves Like many of us, before the pandemic struck, Mr. Perkins had never heard of Zoom.  He was content to offer services each Sunday to the small congregation that would gather in his little church.  It had never occurred to him to broadcast his services or his sermons beyond the audience that faithfully gathered on the sacred day, at the sacred hour.  This, of course, all changed when pandemic came, and the government called for the closure of schools, and businesses, and even churches.  A few weeks went by with Mr. Perkins sending around the text of his homilies by email, and even this was a bit of a stretch for him, for Mr. Perkins was an old-fashioned sort of cleric. People used to joke that the quill pen and the pad of paper were the most advanced technology he used.  But a call from his churchwarden Judy Jumblejump convinced him, or shall we say coerced him, into making an attempt at broadcasting the service over Zoom.  It was

The Dead Sea Scrolls - Session Six

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Session Six – The End Time: Eschatology and Apocalypse As a part of their self-understanding as the remnant of Israel, the Community understood themselves as a community of the “last days”.   In their view, all of history had pointed to the moment in which the Community existed. They were living on the cusp of the culmination of history. Thus, like most apocalyptic movements, the Community expected an imminent intervention of God, the defeat of their enemies (and the forces of darkness) the intervention of an angelic or messianic figure, and some sort of “reset” or “re-creation” of the world.   Through their “inspired” reading and interpreting of biblical texts (especially by an authoritative leader, in our case, the Teacher of Righteousness), they possessed a secret knowledge and understanding of how these times were unfolding and about to unfold. Their vision of the end times included ideas of a “New Jerusalem”, visions of heaven, messianic figures (often more than one), spiritual

The Dead Sea Scroll - Session Five

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The Dead Sea Scrolls – Session Five   Further Adventures in Reading, Interpreting, and Re-writing the Bible   In a previous session we explored how the Community read biblical texts, in particular the Prophets and the Psalms, in light of their own experience.  The Biblical commentaries, or  pesharim ,  offered an interpretation of a given text that read the Community’s story into the biblical story as the fulfilment of biblical prophecy.  In this way, it appears the Community saw itself as  the culmination of the story of Israel.   The Genesis Apocryphon However, this was not their only approach to reading Scripture. Found amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls are several previously unknown examples of re-written Scripture  (e.g., the Genesis Apocryphon) .  In addition, they seemed to  have  treasure d  copies of text s  that have been preserved in later editions and have come down to us largely through ecclesiastical traditions (such as 1 Enoch , which the Ethiopic Church considered canonical