Easter Egg Hunt

March 30th, 2018 by

I have been asked many times over the last couple of weeks how the Early Egg Hunt went this year. Here is just a glimpse through the eyes of one young boy and a mom:

“Jesus is always with you and always listens to your prayers.”

One of our Easter Story Egg table leaders spoke these words of life to a young boy who shared about a hard family situation that he is currently in. She was in the midst of sharing the Easter story with him when he opened up about it. Beautiful words of hope for this boy in the midst of despair.

“This is the best Easter egg hunt my family has been to because we have had the chance to meet people from the community afterward!”

This second comment was made by a mom with two young kids. She was excited that there were activities after the egg hunt so that she could actually meet and get to know people from the community. Through the tangible environment that was created (great food, playground, Easter craft) people found more than just an egg hunt. They found a chance to get to know one another.

So much preparation from our church family goes into creating the tangible environment that spurs stories like these. Thank you for snapping eggs together, for bagging candy, for setting up tables and chairs, for grilling hot dogs and refilling drinks, for helping kids with Easter Story Egg sets, for welcoming families, for directing parking, for capturing the event in pictures, for praying, and so much more – all to share the joy of Easter!”

 

Good Friday – Friday Epistle for March 30, 2018

March 30th, 2018 by
Good Friday

The Service for Good Friday leads us through the last hours of our Lord Jesus’ life on the day we commemorate his holy death. Beginning with Isaiah’s prophecy of the suffering servant through Hebrews’ description of the New Covenant, we finally listen to John’s narration of Christ’s trial and then rise to witness him cruelly crucified at Golgotha.
Our Communion Prayer (Rite 1) gathers and summarizes the motivation of God and the effects of Jesus’ death in this way.

All glory be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that thou, of thy tender mercy, didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption; who made there, by his one oblation of himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world; …
It is here on the cross that Jesus combines the holy intentions of heaven with the broken realities of earth. Damnation, Judgment, Salvation, Blessing, Justice, Mercy, Death and Life. Grace. The Communion prayer makes petitions based on this“once offered” gift to His Father and his people.
…most humbly beseeching thee to grant that, by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we, and all thy whole Church, may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion.
In the Good Friday liturgy, we pray the Solemn Collects, ancient prayers that have borne the petitions of weary Christians to their great High Priest for centuries. Each Collect of collected petitions is focused on an area of concern- the church, the world, the hurting, the lost, and the departed. Each specific petition within the Collect may serve as a window through which we might look at our lives and see where God might be invited to apply “all other benefits of his [Jesus] passion.”
Good Friday ends without the pronounced blessing of either bishop or priest. What greater blessing than the redemption of the world and the security of our souls might we seek? We stand in awe and grief and are sated by the abundance of Christ’s generosity. There is no final dismissal, for we are a people waiting for Jesus’ self-specified third day, when the evidence of Christ’s trustworthiness will be revealed.
Throughout Lent, we have sung and prayed the comfortable words as we prepared for Holy Communion. Hear the Word of God to all who truly turn to him.

Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and
I will refresh you.    
Matthew 11:28
God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,
to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but
have everlasting life.    
John 3:16
This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 

1 Timothy 1:15

If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus
Christ the righteous; and he is the perfect offering for our
sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole
world.    
1 John 2:1-2
The Good Friday service concludes with a final prayer. In its expansiveness and boldness, we find the faithful response to the Savior’s invitation and accomplishment.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, we pray you to set your passion, cross, and death between your judgment and our souls, now and in the hour of our death. Give mercy and grace to the living; pardon and rest to the dead; to your holy Church peace and concord; and to us sinners everlasting life and glory; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and forever. Amen.
As you prepare for Easter Sunday and its joyful exuberance, we invite you to remember the good work your savior has done for you this day. And the good work he continues to do for us and the world because his Cross-work was not the end, but the beginning.
See you Sunday,
Christopher+

Friday Epistle for March 16, 2018

March 16th, 2018 by
“Click” 
Snapshots of God’s Servants
 
 

 
“Democratic Republic of the Congo bishop warns
violence could spiral into genocide.”
This was the lead story in the ChurchTimes.co.uk. The Rt. Rev. Mugenyi William Bahemuka is the bishop.  Pray for him.  He is coming to Florida soon and then on to India with Canon Christopher.
 
“Where I am, so my servant is also…”
 
 
-Click-
 
“They left the Congo because of the killing…”  
       So began Fr. Gabriel’s homily for 8 year old Jephte Babakissa last Friday who was run down by a distracted driver in Conway.  His mother, next to the bongos is singing.  Earlier she was wailing at the open grave.
-Click-
 
 
People, reaching out, caring for one another, praying for one another.
       Sharing God’s love is why we gather.  We are His body.  We are His servants.  He is with us then.  Jesus’ first public sermon (John 3) was to the Jews about new life.  His last public sermon (John 12) is to the Greeks about life from death.
       Hellenism espoused the effort to realize the ideal human life consisting in enjoyment and escaping sacrifice, the fullness of personal life.  It’s all about me. On the other hand, Jesus’ teaching,  “The person who is in love with one’s own self ruins it, but the person who hates one’s this-worldly self preserves one’s true self thereby into deep, lasting Life.”  
 
“He who loves his life loses it…”
 
 
-Click-
The Rt. Rev. Peter Johs, bishop of the diocese of Malek
in South Sudan; 42,000 Anglicans; provincial secretary.
       He lives in a village with no running water or electricity and visits  his people via bicycle because to have a car would distance him too much from his poor and starving people.
Meet him here at New Covenant Good Friday.
 
“but if it dies it bears much fruit…”
 
 
-Click-
       Sometimes, from time to time, whether far away, as with the men above, or here at home in our local community, we get to linger with and rub elbows with God’s servants, even on Sundays!
Blessings to You All,

We Are the Temple

March 9th, 2018 by

Dear Friends,

Some of you asked for the slides from the last Sunday’s sermon, so here they are.  For some reason you can click through them a lot faster than I did at the service.  Perhaps it’s because you don’t have to say, “Click” for each one, and/or because I have abbreviated the stories a good bit?

As we are the Temple, this is part of who we are in Christ, how our heavenly Father sees us, and what the Holy Spirit wants to do in us and through us.  Enjoy.

We are_the Temple

Right before the verse where these slides begin, v.8, “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them,”  the Lord says to Moses:  “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give.  These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze;  …  Ex. 25:2-3 

And Jesus says to us… Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.   Luke 12:33-34  

I bring this up because the offering that was brought for the Temple of New Covenant last month was just a bit more than half of what was budgeted. We pray it’s an anomaly. For example, January was almost on budget.  Thank you for your support and helping build his temple here.

Blessings to you all,

Friday Epistle for March 2, 2018

March 2nd, 2018 by
TEMPLE CLEANING

This past Wednesday morning as I was getting things together for the Lenten noonday service, I noticed that our decanter of Holy Water was almost empty. So, after filling it, I said the prayers below over the water making the sign of the cross where indicated.

Sunday morning during communion and prayer ministry, I gave someone a small bottle of Holy Water and said, “This should solve the problem.” Over the years I have seen Holy Water cleanse rooms, attics, garages, entryways etc. (Ask Canon Christopher). It beats 409.

The prayers below come from an old MANUAL FOR PRIESTS. They are, indeed, a recipe for Holy Water. We use them, along with prayers for the exorcism and blessing of salt, when we do a house blessing.

It’s not the only thing used for cleaning a temple, and physical space temples are not the only temples in need of cleaning, but it is a good place to begin.

Let us pray. (Exorcism of the water) I adjure thee, O creature of water, in the Name of God the Father + Almighty, in the Name of Jesus + Christ, his Son, our Lord, and by the power of the Holy + Ghost, that thou become water exorcised for putting to flight all the power of the enemy, and do thou avail to cast out and send hence that same enemy, with all his apostate angels: through the power of the Same our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall come to judge the quick and the dead, and the world by fire. Amen.

Let us pray. (Blessing of the water) O God, Who for the salvation of mankind hast ordained that the substance of water should be used in one of thy chiefest Sacraments: favourably regard us who call upon thee, and pour the power of thy bene+diction upon this element, made ready by careful cleansing; that this thy creature, meet for thy mysteries, may receive the effect of divine grace, and so cast out devils, and put sickness to flight, that whosoever in the dwellings of thy faithful people shall be sprinkled with this water, may be made free from all uncleanness and delivered from all manner of hurt; there let no spirit of pestilence abide, nor any corrupting air: thence let all the wiles of the hidden enemy depart; and if there be aught that layeth snares against the peace or safety of them that dwell in the house, let it fly before the sprinkling of this water, so that the health which they seek through calling upon thy holy Name may be protected against all things that threaten it. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessings to You All,

 

****P.S. – If anyone has thoughts or feedback on Jon Ritner, we would love to hear it! Please reply to this epistle with any reflections. Thank you!
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