Friday Epistle – April 27, 2018

April 27th, 2018 by
Fruit or Fire?
Cut Off or Cut Back?
John 15.1-8
Some branches are cut off and others are cut back.
The ones that are cut off are thrown into a fire.
The ones that are cut back bear fruit.
It’s sort of like the passage in DT where God says, This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.
 
Life or Death? Blessing or Curse?
 
It seems obvious doesn’t it? But scripture doesn’t want us guessing,
Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.
 
As for the branches, the way, the only way, to bear fruit is to remain in Jesus – Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. Jn 15.4
HOW do we  remain in Him?
John gives us 4 ways in chapters 1, 4, 6, 8, and 15.
  1. response … 1.38-42; 4.29, 40
  2. communion… 6.56
  3. continuing in the Word… 8.31-32
  4. keeping his command… 15.9-17
It says in 15.3 that the disciples are clean already – the foot washing from chapter 13. But what about us?  HOW are we cleansed?
  1. by the Word…
  2. by baptism…
  3. by fellowship…
  4. by communion…
  5. by pruning…
PRAYER OF HUMBLE ACCESS – 1928 Prayer Book
We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table. But thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies maybe made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious bloodandthat we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.
Blessings to you All,

Friday Epistle for April 6, 2018

April 6th, 2018 by
Dear Friends at New Covenant,

Like some horrific losses, and some beatific moments that transcend even our imaginations, the events of Good Friday and Easter are vastly beyond words. Sometimes a poet captures something words put otherwise cannot.
Shortly after WW1, the Great War to end all war, when its memories and pains were still fresh, a book was published. Near the beginning is the text from John, “He showed them his hands and his side.” And this poem follows.

JESUS OF THE SCARS by Edward Shillito

If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow,
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.
The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars, we claim Thy grace.
If, when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know to-day what wounds are, have no fear,
Show us Thy Scars, we know the countersign.
The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.
A comment on the poem by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple:
Only a God in whose perfect being pain has its place can win and hold our worship; for otherwise the creature (with his pains) would in fortitude surpass the Creator.”
Blessings to You All,