Memorial Day and Current Warefare Let Us Pray! & Let Him Pray! Friday Epistle 05.28.17

May 28th, 2017 by

Years ago, in the early 70’s, Dean Builter, a good friend and neighbor from Junior high through college, held up his right hand right in front of my face.  One finger wouldn’t stand up like the others.  He said, “I stuck up my hand up to signal my platoon to advance, and a bullet went straight through it, right there,” as he pointed to the wound.

It was his ticket home from the Vietnam War.  A number of our friends didn’t come home.

 

It is good, and quite overwhelming; to remember and give thanks for those who gave their lives for our country.  (I have included a paragraph on Memorial Day, and a numeric list of those killed in combat in the top 10 wars we have been involved in.)

A couple times a year I get to travel to other countries and it’s on those visits that I often realize just how blessed we are.  For example, written on my visa to The Republic of India it says, “Not valid for missionary work.”

A greater loss than that of a life, is the loss of a soul. Jesus had some things to say about this:

n  Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matt. 10:28

n  What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? Matt. 16:26

In Jesus’ prayer for us in Sunday’s gospel reading he prays that our souls will be protected:

n  I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name-the name you gave me-so that they may be one as we are one.John 17:11

n  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.John 17:15

Like it or not, believe it or not, there is a fierce war going on both externally and internally for our souls:

n  Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 1Pet. 2:11

One of the fastest growing religions today is that of Secularism.  Bishop C. Fitzsimons Allison has written about this in his book, TRUTH IN AN AGE OF ARROGANCE.  But basically the religion of Secularism says; believe what you like, whatever works for you, all roads lead to heaven.  It can be far more subtle than that at diminishing the truths of the Christian Faith.  But as the author of the BENEDICT OPTION, Rod Dreher, points out and calls it — “a mushy pseudoreligion the researchers have deemed, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism,” —  is hollowing out the faith of many of our churches.

So here’s my quandary.  How do I pray for my grandchildren and their children after them?  How do we pray in such a way that saving faith is passed on?  That they will be protected?

One piece of the answer I believe is to let Him pray.

n  Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.Rom. 8:34

n  Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.Heb. 7:25

Someone shared of simply praying Jesus’ prayer in John 17 until it became their own and just how transforming that was.

We can let him pray in two ways:  One is to embrace the truth that he is praying for you, your children, and your children’s children; and two, is to let His prayer come alive inside you.  After all, that is where the battle is waged.

And what’s more! The Holy Spirit is at work in prayer as well.

 

n  In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Rom. 8:26

 

Let Him pray, and let us pray!  Amen.

 

 

 

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. The holiday, which is currently observed every year on the last Monday of May, originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers. By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions, celebrated on different days, had merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service. It marks the start of the unofficial summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.

Weekly Lectionary – 5th Sunday of Easter

May 15th, 2017 by
COLLECT
Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

First Lesson
Acts 7:55-60

 

55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit,  looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open  and the Son of Man  standing at the right hand of God.”
57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

 

New Testament
1 Peter 2:2-10
2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

The Living Stone and a Chosen People

4 As you come to him, the living Stone-rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him- 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”[b]
7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”[c]
8 and,
“A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”[d]
They stumble because they disobey the message-which is also what they were destined for.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

 

Gospel
John 14:1-14

 

14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Jesus the Way to the Father

5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Friday Epistle for May 12, 2017

May 13th, 2017 by

Greetings to you all,

The picture is from this past Wednesday, May 10th, at The Abbey at Pawley’s Island, SC.

 

 

At the head of the table is Bishop Fitzsimmons Allison, formerly the Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina and prior to that professor at Sewanee, The University of the South, and then Virginia Seminary. To his right is Archbishop Kolini. To his left is Bishop Sospeter and Bishop Aaron from Tanzania. Not seen in the picture are Bishop Edmond from Ghana, Bishop William from the DRC, Bishop Gerry Schnackenberg from Colorado, and me. Bishop Fitz is lecturing to us on the religion of secularism and illustrating why it is such a weak but insidious religion.

 

During the discussion time I asked him about a new book entitled The Benedict Option. My question was, is MTD (see below) how the religion of secularism has been creeping into the Christian faith and hollowing out our churches?

 

We live in a world where those who consider themselves religious, and a lot of, those who call themselves Christians, and even their churches, are now following  “a mushy pseudoreligion the researchers have deemed, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.  MTD has 5 basic tenets:

 

1   A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth period.

2   God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.

3   The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.

4   God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when he is needed to resolve a problem.

5   Good people go to heaven when they die.”

 

Taken from: THE BENEDICT CODE by Rod Dreher.

 

You might ask yourself, “What’s wrong with this?”

 

 

AND HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

 

Where Moms Fall Short: The Club of the Velveteen Moms

 

Please be praying as tomorrow is Kevin Donlon’s consecration as Bishop. I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday!

Weekly Lectionary – May 7, 2017

May 6th, 2017 by

4th Sunday of Easter

Year A

To see the May Sunday Server Schedule, click here.

COLLECT

O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

First Lesson

Acts 2:42-47

The Fellowship of the Believers

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

 

New Testament

1 Peter 2:19-25

19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

22 “He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”[a]

23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,”[b] but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

 

Gospel

John 10:1-10

The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

10 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

New Covenant Church – Summer 2017 – Inside Out

May 6th, 2017 by

Friday Epistle for May 5, 2017

May 5th, 2017 by

Many congratulations to Bishop Carl this week as he celebrates the second anniversary (May 2) of

his consecration as Bishop Emissary of the Diocese of Boga in the DRC. This picture is from the service at St. Luke’s that Saturday morning.

 

Nothing would ever change the joy of Easter, even though everything would change. Jesus’ friends gathered around him in celebration and connection during the amazing days following Easter. And he intentionally prepared them for what would follow.

 

In his early ministry, Jesus had gathered a few disciples, some thankful crowds, and some interested onlookers as he taught and healed and cared. At the time of his death, his crowds had melted away or turned against him and there were precious few who remained loyal to him.

 

In grief and regret, some of these fickle disciples gathered together and were overjoyed by the Easter miracle of Jesus’ resurrection and appearance to them. In these appearances to individuals, groups and crowds, Jesus began reassembling his community, restoring and repairing to wholeness.

 

This week’s readings give us a glimpse into the teaching Jesus gave (before his death) that displays (though initially not comprehended) the painstaking work he would do to gather and care for his flock.

 

Why would this be an issue for Easter readers like us?

 

Because the flock of Jesus keeps growing. From the solitary eyewitness and joyful pairs of Easter morning to the dozen-ish on Easter evening, to the 120 in the Upper Room, the 500 in the crowd of witnesses to the 3000 who gathered after baptism to follow the Risen Christ,

 

Jesus anticipates that his flock will expand and grow. And it does. And it will.

 

So, Jesus gives his friends guidance ahead of time to confidently care for his unwieldy flock afterwards.

 

We see this theme develop across the readings.

 

Psalm 23 and John 10 give us the vision of the Good Shepherd, while Acts 2 and 1 Peter give us a glimpse of how the disciples of Jesus carry on his ministry with those who have come to trust in the Risen Christ.

 

In preparation for Sunday, I challenge you to do two things.

 

One– Think of people whose voice you recognize just by its sound. Not only James Earl Jones, but a person whose cadence and tone you immediately know. Here is a video of sheep and their shepherd showing the idea.

 

 

Two– Memorize Psalm 23. If you already have, pick your favorite line. If you never have, start at the beginning and work your way down. You can find it in your Prayer Book on page 612 (traditional language on page 476-477) We will say it together on Sunday, and yes, we will depend on one another to make it through.  Here are a couple arrangements of Psalm 23 I have enjoyed this week.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=283&v=Au3otElq6D4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoojA0cLPWY

 

I’d love to hear who you can hear so distinctly.  Share the names of voices you recognize and other songs that remind you of the Good Shepherd by emailing them to me at christopher@new-covenant-church.com

See you Sunday,

Christopher+

 

Psalm 23 

A psalm of David

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2  He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters,

     he refreshes my soul.

3 He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.