Friday Epistle for January 26, 2018

January 26th, 2018 by
Contagious
 
     Germs are a given. They’re floating in the air, resting on surfaces, in spaces both public and private; and even being ferried from place to place by us.
     Yuck. Anti-bacterial soap and hand sanitizer were created for just such occasions.
     Coughing, sneezing, rubbing our eyes, touching other people’s hands or food can spread those germs from place to person. And they could get sick.
Or not.
     Germs are a given. While we know more about germs now than ever before in the history of our human family, there is much that is still mysterious. Some are mild, some are vicious, some are bacteria, others are viruses, fungi or protazoa. (I looked that up.)
     Yuck. You may want to wash your hands after your read this because phones and computers can also carry germs for quite a while.
     The variables involved in who gets sick and who stays well are often not solely about the germs themselves, but about wider frontiers like contagion, resistance, and susceptibility.
      Any number of factors go into assessing how likely a particular person may be to coming down with a bug, being “under the weather,” suffering through the flu, or a “test-on-unknown-biology-facts-tomorrow” cough.
     The New Testament passages for Sunday have us consider Jesus’ arrival in the Capernaum synagogue in Mark 1, where he moves towards an “unclean spirit.”  We also follow St Paul in 1 Corinthians 8 through the logic of eating food that has been offered to the idols of false gods.
     In these two passages we see issues that are commonly asked about by Jesus’ friends. And, we have teaching that helps us acknowledge that while germs are a given, we may look at them through larger frontiers.
     Jesus is moving through this Epiphany season as one who is fearless in the face of darkness because he knows that light is good, and he is bringing it this week as we read of his first miracle in Mark’s gospel.
     Paul is moving through a catalog of questions from his Corinthian sons and daughters who want to know how the light of Christ relates to them in a very defiled world. Paul knows that the light is good, and so he brings it.
     We each have our own questions about faithful discipleship, confidence in witness, and wisdom in responding to the soul and social sickness around and within us and those we love.
     Ultimately, it’s not about the germs. They are a given. It’s more about contagion, resistance, and susceptibility.
See you Sunday,
Christopher+

Friday Epistle for January 19, 2018

January 19th, 2018 by
ALONG THE ROAD

 

          In the gospel reading for Sunday, Jesus called Andrew and Simon, then James and John, and later Emmanuel and William.  The last two are dear friends and I have been blessed to spend this past week with them: talking, praying, planning, laughing and eating.

 

     As the song sings, “My bags are packed and I’m ready to go…”  and not so much, as today holds my last hours with them.  Time is precious.
     My flight is tonight, and as I reflect I remember the words from a fairly blunt blog about keeping things in perspective, I am reminded of just how precious time is.

 

“I’m 27 now. I don’t want to go. I love my life. I am happy.. I owe that to my loved ones. But the control is out of my hands.
I haven’t started this ‘note before I die’ so that death is feared – I like the fact that we are mostly ignorant to it’s inevitability.. Except when I want to talk about it and it is treated like a ‘taboo’ topic that will never happen to any of us.. That’s been a bit tough. I just want people to stop worrying so much about the small, meaningless stresses in life and try to remember that we all have the same fate after it all so do what you can to make your time feel worthy and great, minus the bull***t.”
Here’s a second clip from later on:

Give, give, give. It is true that you gain more happiness doing things for others than doing them for yourself. I wish I did this more. Since I have been sick, I have met the most incredibly giving and kind people and been the receiver of the most thoughtful and loving words and support from my family, friends and strangers; More than I could I ever give in return. I will never forget this and will be forever grateful to all of these people.”
     27 year old Holly Butcher died January 4.  Her blog was released the 7th.  Time is precious, and I am so thankful for the time I have had with these two disciples of Jesus and that I have been so blessed as to share some of the same road with them as followers of Jesus.

 

     If you haven’t read the book KOLINI, an Unlikely Archbishop, you are missing a true life adventure that is hard to believe.  And my bishop, Mugenyi Bahemuka William is one of the most courageous, and fearless  people on the planet.  Just living in the DRC would qualify him for that but his steadfastness, faithfulness, and joyfulness can shine so brightly that sometimes you need to shield your eyes.

 

     I came here to be with them, to spend time, and to rescue some time, realizing just how precious it is.  It had become clear to me that I cannot do both parish ministry and be the Prefect of Anglican Mission International.  Both had pieces of my heart for very different reasons.    The decision for both Barbara and me was clear, but would be hard to share with my Bishop and Archbishop.

 

     I like the bluntness of Holly’s words.  Sometimes God’s grace can be a diamond in the rough. The thing about true friends is, like she says, they give and give.  I have received grace upon grace this week and for the past 25 years, and bring home to my other precious disciples many diamond studded moments to share with you along the road.

 

     Thanking you for your love and support through good times and bad, I pray together we will be wholehearted followers of our Lord.

 

     It was hard to say good bye to being the Prefect of our new chapter of Anglican Mission, Anglican Mission International, but both Barbara and I knew this was the right decision.

 

See you along the road,

 

+Carl 

Friday Epistle – January 12, 2018

January 12th, 2018 by
Building His Kingdom 
 
        Last week we meditated on the baptism of Jesus at the river Jordan. This was his introduction to the people. At his baptism a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” After his baptism Jesus was led into the wilderness for 40 days where he fasted and was tempted by the enemy. Having overcome the enemy, Jesus was ready for his public ministry. His first priority was to make disciples. The followers of Jesus, or disciples, were the ones who brought the good news to the whole world.
       The Bible describes Christ’s kingdom as a building that is under  construction. St. Paul writes in the book of Ephesians, “God is building a home. He’s using us all-irrespective of how we got here-in what He is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now He’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day-a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home” (Ephesians 2:19-22, The Message).
       The process of building His kingdom will go on until He returns. You and I have the privilege of adding living stones to the building. Every person who puts their faith in Christ is being added to his kingdom. May the Lord help us to be involved in building His kingdom by introducing people to Him.
See you Sunday,
Ivan+

Friday Epistle for January 5, 2018

January 5th, 2018 by
“God saw that the light was good…” Genesis 1.4a
 
         As January begins, we have before us the open weeks and hours of another calendar year. While some dates and plans have been penciled in already, the wide open spaces in our planners allow us to take a moment to think afresh about our goals and priorities.
Epiphany comes to us as a perfect complement to this time of year. Picking up where the dozen days of Christmas come to their Magi-gifted conclusion, Epiphany is a spotlight to help us see the continuing wonder and the meaning of what it means to have God among us.
          If Christmas is the articulation of the doctrine of the Incarnation, “veiled in flesh the Godhead see,” the season of Epiphany is its application, showing us where and how the glories of the “Immanuel” make a difference to the expectant people of God. To the penitents standing on the banks of John’s Jordan, to the disciples who begin to follow him, to an unsuspecting couple whose wedding day has more guests than budget, and on and on to the Mount of Transfiguration.
         At each step, Epiphany asks us to look for the epiphany, or breakthrough where we can see the unveiled glory of Jesus Christ. The unveiling is always a gift of grace. No one has deduced and demanded the revelation of the Son of God. But God reveals Himself through Jesus, and Jesus reveals himself to be God to both Israel and the nations.
          This series of revelations or unveilings of Jesus’ identity and intentions often get described in terms of light coming into darkness. The Old Testament reading for Sunday takes us to Genesis and to the beginning for the beginning of a new year. It says that when God saw the light he created through his word, he saw that it was good. He takes it in, now actual and not just theoretical, and he evaluates it as being good.
          The Bible usually sees (ISWYDT) darkness as a problem or obstacle. It is sometimes a signifier of evil and danger, judgment, or undeveloped potential. John says that Jesus is the light who came into the world, and the darkness in the world was both powerless to overwhelm him and also unable to rightly perceive him. Darkness as enemy and darkness as disability.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1.5
As we begin a new year together, we are mindful that we all know someone who has not yet seen how good the light is. Maybe they’ve heard that it is, perhaps they’ve appreciated the positive effects in others, but they have not yet seen that it is good for themselves.
         Their own eyes and perhaps our unfocused vision as well, have so far missed the epiphany of the glorious Christ who shows his glory in such indirect ways, through baptism with sinners and service at a reception and compassion to those who do not yet see. In Israel and the nations. Jesus refracts his glory through the multifaceted and multi-fractured world so that the whole world might be illumined with the news of salvation.
         It’s not surprising that they cannot see. The Magi were just looking at the sky until the unforgettable star caught their eye. John was baptizing all who came until the heavens opened and the dove descended to the sound of heaven’s affirmation. The stewards in the kitchen were just filling water pots until the new wine spilled over and renewed the joy of the feast.
         Jesus is so patient and gracious to show himself to those who, for years before, and even halfway through, have no real idea he is even near them.
 
Join us tomorrow, Saturday January 6th at 9am for Holy Communion as we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany and the arrival of the Magi, concluding the 12 days of Christmas with the sharing of good news with the nations.
 
Next Sunday, January 14th, we are beginning a new series at 9am on Sunday  mornings titled “Good News for the Neighborhood.”Sheryl Shaw, our Missions Pastor and Erica Stephenson, our Youth and Families Pastor will be leading this four week exploration into how you can bring the light of Christ and the good news to those within your circles and spheres of influence. This would be a great way to begin the new year.
This Sunday, January 7th, we will meet at 9am to look at the Breakthrough themes and emphases of Epiphany as a way to frame our approach to discipleship in dark places.
Jesus stands beside those whose eyes are closed with an extended hand and patient insistence that it is good to be in the light. Because at the hand of Jesus, light is not distant or abstract but personal and present.
            This video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EltIpB4EtYUreminded me of the marvels of being able to see, and I think also of the perspective of Jesus towards those who cannot yet see. I know nothing about the non-profit organization highlighted here, so please don’t see this as an appeal for donations. I do see a story of two sisters who cannot see, and then they can.
            God can see that the light is good. We, by God’s grace, are seeing that the light is good. Epiphany is a great time to pray that others, closed off now in darkness, will come to see how good and bright the light of Jesus is.
See you Sunday,
Christopher+