Along the Way pt.2

October 19th, 2018 by

 
“All the way to heaven is heaven, because He said I am the Way” St. Catharine
 

Barbara and I plan to hike the last part of the Camino de Santiago next September. It’s a pilgrimage beginning in the Pyrenees and concluding in Spain following the way of St. James the apostle.

There’s a fun movie about it, The Way, with Martin Sheen. As the story goes, his son is killed at the outset of the Camino. Martin decides to make the hike himself, dispersing his son’s ashes along the way.

Along the way he meets up with the scarecrow, the tin man, and the lion. Not really. But he does make the journey with 3 fun characters – a wounded woman wanting to quit smoking, an over weight man wanting to fit into his suit for a wedding, and an author trying to break free from writer’s block.

It’s a wonderful, and perhaps too real, journey.

As I am reflecting on the gospel for last Sunday and this (i.e. James and John wanting the right and left of Jesus in His glory and the others being indignant…), I think of those we get to travel with on our pilgrimage.

For example — Our small group this fall was, well it could have been a great movie, and I am certain our Lord was blessed watching and listening. It makes all the difference when others are going with you and are reaching out and touching lives around them. We encourage one another!

(Heb. 10:25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.)

I can’t recall being more enriched by simple testimonies!

 

Archbishop Kolini ++ & Bishop William+
New Covenant is a doubly blessed community of faith. Not only do we have one another, but our arms reach out far beyond our walls.

Today, Thursday October 18th, Ivan Sikha of MissionIndia is picking up Freda and Archbishop Kolini++ from Rwanda, and Bishop William+ from DRC at the airport. And tomorrow they will fly to Haiti to minister and spend 4 days with Fr. Burnet Cherisol, the Anglican Vicar of Haiti. Then they will return to spend a few days with us.

 

Fr. Burnet
These people have suffered greatly and paid a high price to follow Jesus, and to be in relationship with us. These people are true hero servants of the Faith! And to walk with them along the way to the promised inheritance is indeed an honor. A precious gift from Abba’s hand!

As the end of my ministry as rector of this parish draws near, I am awed, and in utter thanksgiving that God has allowed me to know these saints and in some way support their work for the Kingdom. I am also incredibly thankful for God’s graciousness in letting me be a part of this body of Christ that has chosen to reach out in love along the way!

“Loving each other is what we were meant to do and how we were made to roll. It’s not where we start when we begin following Jesus; it’s the beautiful path we travel the rest of our lives.”

From EVERYBODY ALWAYS by Bob Goff.

Blessings,

Along the Way

October 12th, 2018 by

 

(Referencing Mark 10:17-31**)

 

“As he was setting out…” someone, who perhaps grasps and then gasps — ‘He’s leaving, this is my last chance to ask him’ — approaches him, respectfully, honestly, humbly, sincerely.

 

“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

 

Please.

 

Tell me.

 

The disciples, as do we, lean in. The dialogue is deceptively compelling.
The answer to this question has us all holding our breath. I hope.

 

Because when breath becomes air –

 

As it does for all living souls,

 

What’s next?

 

What shall we do, you do, anyone do?
To inherit eternal life?

 

If it’s not your question now, well, it should be…

 

A friend of mine said he had a commandment above his bed –

 

“Thou shalt not should on thyself.”

 

But, it seems right here, to should on yourself.
And besides, did you see it?

 

Jesus added a commandment too – “do not defraud” – maybe just for this person?
Or not. Go figure.

 

Anyway, they continue on their way.

 

“All the way to heaven is heaven, because He said I am the Way.”
St. Catharine

 

He’s not with them.
I’m told this is the only scripture where someone leaves Jesus presence – sad.

 

What did he miss? Why couldn’t, didn’t, he get it?

 

Look again, see if you see,

 

**Mark 10:17-31

 

The Rich and the Kingdom of God
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good-except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.'”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields-along with persecutions-and in the age to come eternal life.31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Wrestling with God

September 28th, 2018 by
Have you ever complained to God, asking why bad things happen to good people?

Have you ever questioned God’s concern for you, your family, or friends who were facing crises which seemed out of control?

Have you found it difficult to trust God when your prayers seem to go unanswered?

This Sunday, I want to look with you at the story of Jacob, the son of Isaac, and the grandson of Abraham, who in Genesis 32 wrestled with God in the face of a life threatening crisis. As the story unfolds, we will learn that:

  1. It is OK to wrestle with God.
  2. But we must also allow God to wrestle with us.
  3. And those who wrestle and prevail will be given a new name and  a new future.

Before you come to worship at 8 or 10 AM Sunday, would you read Genesis 32?

Come as we wrestle together with these life changing questions. And you may just want to invite someone to come with you who is wrestling with God right now!

See you Sunday!

In His Strong Name,

Larry                                                                                                  

The Rev. Dr. Larry Selig

The Enneagram & Spiritual Formation: Reclaiming Our True Identity in Christ

September 27th, 2018 by

Orlando, FL; November 2-3, 2018I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. —Psalm 139:13Young children live freely, moving through the world without shame or pretense. But as we grow older, the impact of sin, trauma, and cultural expectations dim our natural luminescence. When this happens, we develop a “false self” as a way to cope and control how others see us. We exaggerate our gifts and create a caricature of the glory God gave us as image bearers.Parker Palmer says “Our strongest gifts are usually those we are barely aware of possessing. They are a part of our God-given nature, with us from the moment we drew our first breath, and we are no more conscious of having them them than we are of breathing.”

The Enneagram (any-a-gram), is an agent typology that helps us become aware of these gifts by describing nine different character types representative of the different manifestations of God’s character. It is unique from other personality assessments as it illuminates how we uniquely try to make life work apart from God. Knowledge of the Enneagram allows us to excavate the pitfalls of our false self and embrace the beautiful complexity of our True Self in God.Whether you are new to the Enneagram or already know your number, Rachel Blackston and Kourtney Street invite you to attend. They will facilitate this retreat-style conference, crafted so that each participant will leave with a deeper awareness of how God created them, as well as an affection for each of the nine styles. This curriculum fosters self-understanding and enriches the way we relate to others and to God. The workshop will include teaching, group discussion, worship, and silent contemplation. Each participant will complete an online profile in advance.SPEAKERS

Rachel Blackston has a voracious curiosity for how we are uniquely made. Working for the past 15 years as a Career Coach and Mental Health Counselor, she has studied countless temperament and personality assessments. She believes the Enneagram is one of the most comprehensive frameworks available, as it illuminates both our deep goodness as well as our shadow side. The Enneagram explains the “why” behind motivation, core wounds, individual glory, and a plan for growth and repentance for each of the nine types.

Kourtney Street shares Rachel’s love for our uniqueness as image bearers. She has worked with Cru for 21 years, currently serving as the Director of Operations for their national staff conference. She has seen the Enneagram deeply impact her leadership and personal life over the last five years and looks forward to creating a retreat space to share that impact with others.

WORSHIP LEADER

Ross King has been a full-time songwriter, worship leader, performer and producer since 1995. His songs have been recorded by artists such as The Newsboys, Jason Gray, JJ Heller, and North Point community Church.  He has recorded several independent albums selling over 50,000 CD’s and over 100,000 song downloads. Ross lives in Nashville with his wife Staci and their four children. Ross and Staci love the Enneagram and are thrilled to make the trek to Orlando to be with us.

SPECIAL GUESTS

Throughout the weekend there will be opportunities to hear from individuals who have leveraged the Enneagram as a tool for growth and integration. The weekend will also include an expert panel and workshops surrounding areas such as parenting and leadership.

SCHEDULE

New Covenant Anglican Church

Friday –Registration 5:30-6:30

Workshop begins 6:30pm – 9:00pm

Saturday – 8:30-5:00 p.m.

There will be a break for lunch between 11:30-1. Participants will have the option of purchasing a boxed lunch and attending workshops on campus or eating off-site. There are several restaurants within a 5 minute drive of the church.

Cost: $80 per person

$50 for members and attenders of New Covenant Church (use promo code newcovenant on Eventbrite page)

$150 per couple*A limited number of scholarships are available if finances are an issueCost includes workshop materials, snacks and an online Enneagram assessment

 

COME AND DIE – COME AND SEE

September 14th, 2018 by
“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from The Cost of Discipleship.

What if that is not bad news, but in fact really good news? What if our soul’s destiny depends on it?

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Joel Marcus in his commentary on the gospel passage for Sunday provocatively asks,

“But why should one accept the dreadful burden of the cross? Why should one want to follow Jesus, (cf.8:34b) if discipleship means entry into a living death?”

 

This week I began reading a book my sister has been asking me to read, Imagine Heaven, by John Burke, Pastor of Gateway Church in Austin, TX. I have found it, well, enticing. Here are some of my highlighted clips.

John Burke’s main motive in writing this book is – “to help you imagine heaven so you will see how wise it is to live for it, plan for it, and make sure you’re prepared for a safe arrival some day.

One NDE (Near Death Experience) person related an encounter with Jesus where Jesus asked him what he had done with his life? When he asked how was I to know what to do with my life, Jesus said, “I told you by the life I lived. I told you by the death I died. And, if you keep your eyes on me you will see more.”

Later the same person says, “How we spend our time on earth, the kind of relationships we build, is vastly, infinitely more important than we can know.”

“I’ve become convinced that God loves each of us like no other, and that most people are just like I was – they just don’t realize how great life with God can be: starting in this life, but even more so in the life to come.”

How you think about heaven affects everything in life – how you prioritize love, how willing you are to sacrifice for the long-term, how you view suffering, what you fear or don’t fear. I’m convinced we can’t even begin – but we should try – to picture how magnificent, how spectacular, how much fun heaven will be – how much of what we love about this life and more awaits us in eternity.”

What if we became people who have a vision for the ultimate life to come? What if it’s true that this life is merely a tiny taste on the tip of our tongues of the feast of life yet to come? What if heaven is going to be better than your wildest dreams? And what if how you live really does matter for the life to come question?”

Joel Marcus responds to his question:

 

“… against the disturbing and counterintuitive exhortation in 8:34 to embrace death, he now sets the assertion, emphasized by repetition, that those who suffer death “for me and the good news” will paradoxically find life (8:35).”

 

So, what if?

What if Jesus’ invitation to come to him, really is filled with far more than we imagine?

Drawing near in worship, in serving, through the spiritual disciplines, through dying.

What if this is where we gather the talents for the day of our arrival?

What if we could see this? Just a glimpse of His Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven? And then live into it.

Sunday I plan to say a word about spiritual blindness.

Come and see.

                                                                             

Even

September 7th, 2018 by
Hanging pictures is best done by a team of two.  One person shifts the wire on the back of the picture to the left or right until it finds a magical (mythical) midpoint where the picture will hang evenly.

But the second person is also essential. They have to stand back and from a distance that can take in the whole picture and the things around it, declare whether or not the picture is, in fact, even.

These jobs seem like magic to me.

Its hard to know how much of an adjustment is necessary for role one to succeed. A little to the left. Back a bit the other way. No, that’s too much. Almost. The opportunity to correct and overcorrect when sliding the wire along the nail is a blind challenge.

The second role involves less intense labor, but can only work if you have clear, level vision. A crooked head, an unobservant eye, impatience with person number one makes this job difficult as well.

 

Why is the search for a level, equal, even place so often pursued along a winding road?

 

In the mirror, in the minivan, in the marketplace, in the meeting room, it seems difficult to find an even keel. We hear ourselves saying, “It’s not that crooked when you tilt your head a little.”

 

Even when I can delegate or compensate for my picture-hanging deficiencies, the other uneven parts of life require attention.

 

The readings this week invite us, surprise us, with the issues of =.

 

Isaiah catalogs the distribution of judgment and blessing, James presses us to experience the temptations of favoritism, and Jesus shocks us with blunt language to a mother seeking help for her child.

 

= is elusive.

 

But, our prophets and apostles don’t merely describe, and Jesus doesn’t merely surprise. There is a path toward even, and it goes past several well-worn pit-stops along the way.

 

See you Sunday,

 

Christopher+

 

 
 
 
 

COMING UP

We are beginning a Ten-Talent Journey. On Sundays and in small groups, we are taking a journey towards God in the next several months. We invite you to join us along the way, and to do so with expectation. You can join us in the Asylum on Sunday at 9am, or join another group meeting throughout the week over the next five weeks.

 

Sunday at 9am- Nancy Ross is leading a three week study on faith from the life of Job in the Parish Hall. It begins this Sunday

 

With your Bulletin- Pick up a Storm Ready Card. This card invites you to: 1. Prepare for a Storm before it arrives. 2. Sign up if you need help preparing for a storm. 3. Serve on a team to help others prepare.

Come My Beloved

August 31st, 2018 by
Scripture opens with an invitation (Mk 1.17), “Come, follow me,” Jesus said…

Scripture closes with the same invitation (Rev 22.17) “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”

But the invitation doesn’t stop there.

How do we respond to this his invitation?

I want to share a story.  It’s one I have told before, but one worthy of a second telling and hearing.

It’s told by a friend who has now checked into the heavenly Jerusalem as he would say (Brennan Manning, author, preacher and teacher.)

As he shares – He was giving last rites to a woman named Yolanda in LA.  She had been abandoned by her family and was dying alone, severely disfigured from the ravages of leprosy.  As Brennan turned from her bedside to put away the communion kit, a bright light came into the room.  He said it was like light just falling in through the window.

As he turned, she said, “Oh Father, my Abba just spoke to me.”  And he said, “Oh?  What did he say to you Yolanda?”

He said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me.  See!  The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.”

As he was leaving, the nurse asked how she was doing.  And he said, “Well, she was quoting scripture, Songs 2.10-13, so I’m not sure.”  The nurse said, “She’s illiterate! She’s never read a word of the Bible!”

When they returned to Yolanda’s room, her Abba had indeed come in and scooped her up.  Come my beloved!

Can you imagine just how beautiful Yolanda became in that instant?  I’m sure you could have compared her to the most breathtaking sunset you ever saw your Abba paint.

Responding to his invitation is virtually transformative, life and soul changing!  We need to respond, any and every way possible.

And we respond in many ways, e.g. our obedience to his word (listen to the epistle from James), our reaching out to others in serving (listen and look to those being honored today), and as the gospel makes clear, with our hearts!

“These people honor me with their lips,

But their hearts are far from me.”

Where is your heart in terms of this invitation?  How will you draw near?  Come my beloved!

Sunday, I plan to share how I responded a couple weeks ago.

 

See you then, come,                                                                         

What must we do to do the works God requires?

August 24th, 2018 by
A couple of weeks ago, when preaching from John this was the phrase that rang in my ears. And the answer:

The work of God is this, to believe in the one he has sent.

Then they ask for a sign and tell of a sign given in the past to their ancestors; manna. What sign will you give?

So, shortly after he has multiplied bread and fish for their hungry bellies, Jesus introduces them to the bread of life, himself.

At first they seem to be right with him, “always give us this bread.”

Oh, how I remember the first time I heard the words of Jesus and believed. Water for my thirsty soul!

I just could not get enough. I seemed to be right with him.

But then we come to this week’s readings and they are ringing in my ears:

After many battles and wavering commitments, there is a need to renew a Covenant. The tribes of Israel are gathered and asked to choose whom they will serve.

And in Ephesians we read about the very real struggle with spiritual forces of evil, rulers and powers and the need for the armor of God .

Finally, in John, “many of his disciples said, This is a hard teaching”

        …and many turned back and no longer followed him.

I remember very distinctly the day I considered  turning back. It had been so much harder than I could have imagined. I had so much I needed to learn.

But did I still believe?

When God asked me if I would still serve him, my answer was not a roaring yes. Yet, as impossible as it seemed to go on, it was even more impossible to turn away from the very one who gave me life. He met me right where I was, and a Covenant was renewed and here I am.

And all I can think is that we have the very words of life for a world around us that is hungering and thirsting after God, and they don’t even know it. They haven’t even had the chance to begin this journey yet.

It won’t be easy.

But he has given us all that we need.

 

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them.”

What is your favorite Soundtrack?

August 17th, 2018 by
“While fantastic acting and direction can help evoke emotion in an audience, nothing sets the tone in a film quite like its soundtrack. But while scores and songs are usually carefully chosen to match the dramatic arc in a film, there are times when a scene and accompanying song seem entirely mismatched. This dissonance between song and action has the power to make the scene even more poignant, emotional, or in many cases, more terrifying.”

This quote from The Guardian newspaper recognizes the power of music to shape the experience of a movie. You can easily see it in this 3 minute clip that matches a common scene with a handful of musical moods. https://youtu.be/rn9V0cN4NWs The music actively shifts your focus, attention, and even your comprehension of what you’re seeing. Even when you are seeing the same scene again and again.

St. Paul makes a similar point in Ephesians 5, where he exhorts the readers (including us on Sunday) to let the fullness of the Spirit within us match the music we sing to the story we’re a part of.

This opportunity to sync our heads, hearts, and lives is the front-end of the “worthy walk” that Paul encourages us to pursue. This walk, characterized by true wisdom, actually accomplishes what Solomon so wisely requests in 1 Kings. (Sunday’s OT lesson)

Along the way, we will see how a Navy Seal, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and a wayward researcher conspire to shift our focus towards walking with our heads held high.

In the meantime, what is your favorite soundtrack (or background music) for chores at home, studying, riding in the car, or a slow Sunday afternoon? Text me at 407-462-8885 and I’ll share some of your answers on Sunday.

grace and certain hope,

Christopher+                                                            

It’s good to be Home

August 10th, 2018 by
Today, Friday the 10th of August, a parishioner had surgery early in the morning, and a deacon is getting married in the afternoon, or has already been wed depending on when you read this. We can sing, “Ruan and Dennis are Going to the chapel and…” well, you know the lyric, and we all say, “Alleluia.”
And all sorts of other events in our parish family are happening.  It’s so good to be home with you all, to pray together, to celebrate together, and to grow together.  I am sincerely grateful to our Lord!

 

Bishop Masimango, Bishop William & Me
My recent trip to Africa was a whirlwind.  I left on Thursday morning, following a day behind Canon Christopher, from MCO to Doha, and then on to Kigali – about 22 hours in the air. I went to meet with Archbishops Kolini and Masimango, and bishop William to talk about the work of reconciliation, and that we did – talk, pray, and plan.  There were also a number of Archdeanery missions that Archbishop Kolini had set up, where we taught, and so there was little time deal with jet lag.

Saturday evening we were assigned parishes to preach in.  I concluded my sermon last Sunday, in Remera, Rwanda, to about 700 English-speaking Rwandans on this note, “It’s good to be home.”

(That is Fr. Antoine, the rector, sending off the children and introducing me).

I shared with them that many years earlier, after preaching at the cathedral in Kigali, I sat on hill and called our senior warden, Craig Reilly, (Kigali is 6 hours ahead of Florida) before the early service, and asked him to thank our home parish family for supporting me on this trip. It was very special indeed.

You see, after our son AJ was killed in an auto accident, Archbishop Kolini called and shared how he had recently lost a son recently and invited Barbara and me to come and spend time with him in Rwanda.  We became fast friends, and so over the years, when I return, Rwanda has become a home where it is also good to be. It’s good to be home.

So once again, not from a hill in Rwanda, but a computer in Winter Springs, FL I thank you all for supporting my visit, for your love and prayers, and for being here!  It is good to be home.

Blessings & Thanks Again to You All!

PS  I intend to share in greater detail about the this journey – in the sermon – and especially about a truly transformative event that happened while there, and how I leaned into the spiritual disciplines I shared in the parish letter to guide me through it.