God Willing

October 11th, 2013 by

Growing up, I spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out God’s will. In the church of my youth, this included big things, like timing the end of the world and wondering if or when Marci would decide to go out with me. Vocation, 10 Oct 13 13employment, friendship, challenges and even much smaller things, like which toy to ask for at Christmastime. God’s will in my mind was like the evidence left behind at a crime scene, and I was tasked to become a spiritual CSI to deduce and confirm the tracks God had left behind in my life. With this knowledge, I assumed, I could declare Aha! and move forward in life confidently and assured that there would be no untimely surprises.

It was exhilarating except for all the times it was debilitating.

Discernment is a word I learned later that I tried to paint over what I was actually doing. I was a great devotee of the Professor Marvel school-of-reading. Like Dorothy, I would squinch my eyes in my best religious frame of mind, and then take some small piece of recent history and extrapolate it towards my own perception of my best interest.

Then, when I was weary of all the emotional sturm und drang, I just started copying what people around me were doing. God’s will for me was whatever people who seemed to have it together were already doing.

It was comforting except for all the times it was ridiculous.

This week, the prophet Jeremiah’s letter to the refugee community in Babylon gives us guidance forward. If you have ever wondered about God’s will, this guidance can help.

This week is also our second week of In His Presence. You can watch the video for all 6 sessions online at www.new-covenant-church.com. Questions for sessions 1 and 2 are available. Just click on the red couch beside the video. It is not too late to find a group and connect with others who have Jesus in common with you. See you Sunday.

grace and certain hope,               

Christopher+

In His Presence at New Covenant Church

October 7th, 2013 by

I told someone again this week how thankful I am to be part of this church.  I really love Sunday mornings and all the ways we can experience the Lord’s presence. Here are three: there is scripture, there is the sacrament, and there is the Spirit.It’s the three streams of our Anglican tradition.

Scripture

Fr. Christopher said Sunday in his sermon that when we bring live, living issues to the Word of God we can expect transformation.  It is good to come to the Word for information, for knowledge, and the promise is that it’s never a waste of time, never void of value, but when we come with our living issues we can expect to encounter the living Word and be changed in his presence.  That’s why we take preaching so seriously.  We seek to have something to say; not just to have to say something. 

Sacrament banner In HIs Presence

A pastor from a non-denominational church once said to me that what he liked about our Anglican way was that not everything hinged on the message.  In other words, he saw the liturgy and the sacraments as having value that didn’t depend on an individuals performance on a given day.  We say we believe in the “Doctrine of the Real Presence.”  God is present in the sacrament even on our bad hair days.  Isn’t that good to know?  My friend might have mentioned our love of mysterium tremendum as well.

Spirit

Of course any and all experiences of God come via his Holy Spirit. One place where the charismatic expression is available in our Sunday morning is in the times of worship and praise.  We take time to lift up our hearts and one reason for the repetition in the lyrics is to allow it to move from our head to our hearts.  Another thing we have been doing is allowing us to include our own notes to the Lord, sing our own song to him.  Like when you send a greeting card and you put in your own note, share your heart.  Hallmark is good, but not all that personal.  And scripture tells us that God inhabits the praises of his people, his presence again.

So in addition to the fall program and seeking his presence in mission, ministry, worship, the word, prayer and the Holy Spirit we have Sunday mornings!  So many ways God is present, it knocks my socks off.  Apparently, that actually happened according to the scriptures.  I am sure some of us relate more to one way or stream more than the others, and that is fine, so long as we make room for others who prefer the other streams or ways.  I am a person who finds God most often in journaling, solitude and contemplative prayer – and yet I can’t describe how much I love our praise sets on Sunday morning.  And while I love to prepare my sermons and seek a word from our Lord, I have never walked away empty from any sermon at our parish.  And, the sacrament and the mystery it holds – well, it’s a lifesaver week after week.

Thanks to you all for being part of New Covenant and making it such an incredible place to worship in his presence.

Carl+

 “In His Presence” Fall small group study videos and discussion questions