05-08-2014 “I saw the crosses!”

June 16th, 2014 by

Thursday Epistle

 

Dear Member of New Covenant,

“I saw the crosses!”

The speaker finished his talk and invited us to come to the altar rail for prayer.  I was first out of the blocks.  Sincerely convicted of my being judgmental of my parishioners, I desperately needed relief. ” If the speaker will just pray for me,” I thought, but someone else came.

Alas, I told him my issue and strangely he said, “I know.”  Not at all sure how efficacious this would be, the last thing I recall was his hands on my eyes.

When I opened them again I was stretched out on the cathedral chapel’s stone floor, somehow separated from sandals.  Not something I am prone to do.  The only person in the room was the one who prayed for me and the parishioner I had dragged along to this renewal conference.

Later that week a parishioner stopped in my office and shared about how judgmental she had been lately.  I said, stealing from my prayer minister, “I know. listen to this teaching,” handing her the cassette tape from the conference,”and get back to me.”  The next morning she was waiting for me, and she said there was nothing about being judgmental in the talk.

“Hmmm, you’ve got to be kidding, I was convicted from head to toe by that talk,” I responded.  Later, I listened and sure enough she was right, no mention of being judgmental. I learned then that when God has something to say, he doesn’t need a speaker’s words.

Sunday morning came on schedule, and what happened was a bit unnerving.  When I began to share the thoughts of my sermon and looked out on the congregation, I could see a slight, light, iridescent glow on the parishioners foreheads.  After rubbing my eyes, trying not to be too distracted, and keeping hold on my sanity, I noticed they were in the shape of crosses.  What I believe I saw was their chrismed baptismal crosses!  “You are now sealed with the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever,” and the priest anoints with oil the sign of the cross.

I saw the crosses!

Do you think that helped me with being judgmental?  God showed me that they were his. He knew them by name and they were His — listen to Sunday’s gospel from John 10.  We are resurrection people believe it or not!

Sadly for me, the crosses faded all too fast, lasting only a few weeks, and just on Sundays.  But I learned a lot, not just about my being judgmental but about the Holy Spirit and how he speaks and works through prayer ministry.  The presence of God in worship is indeed transforming. Listen to the sermon Sunday about his presence in our worship.

Blessings to you all,

Carl+

04-25-2014 Holy Week and Easter

June 16th, 2014 by

Dear Friends,

It takes a community of faith to make a community of celebration!

What a wonderful Holy Week and Easter!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  Three times is the superlative in Hebrew from what I recall — (As I write this, our GT missionary and Latin American coordinator, Orlando Otorola, is studying Hebrew at our kitchen table so I am trying to, at least, lean that way).

This week at staff meeting we went through a long list of those to whom we wanted to say thank you, and as I try to repeat it I am bound to forget some.  So please know that if that’s you, you will get the most special thanks from our Lord.  (If that’s not scriptural, we can blame my mother).

Especially for Holy Week and Easter – Thanks to:

  • the Easter sunrise team — those who got up before dawn cracked to set and direct traffic
  • those who were baptized – 6 infants were baptized and one adult accepted the Lord in her heart and will soon be baptized
  • those who received their first communion on Palm Sunday and those who taught them
  • the people who continually put new flowers around the front of the church
  • the special choir — those who gather for special events
  • the Easter egg hunt teams — those who put together the story and those who shared it
  • the thespians — those who played parts on Good Friday, those who have read the gospel lessons
  • those who put the service together and coordinated it with the town and other churches

A lot happens behind the scenes on any given Sunday: Thanks to:

  • the Altar guild — set the Lord’s table, do the dishes and wash the linens etc.
  • the media techs and sound people — Easter seemed to be glitch free
  • the kitchen cleaners — someone was caught cleaning the kitchen without being asked
  • the work day crew — beautified the buildings and grounds for Holy Week and Easter
  • the coffee hour hostesses — provide refreshments every week
  • the Sunday School Teachers and C.E. committee — share God’s word with young hearts and minds
  • the office staff — countless bulletins and notices produced
  • the environmental worship people — those who create a worshipful ambiance

A lot happens that we might see or might be seen but may not notice: Thanks to:

  • the acolytes — are an invaluable help in the liturgy
  • the ushers and greeters — there’s the set up and clean up as well as greeting and assisting people
  • the (LEMs) lay eucharistic ministers — people who take communion to those in the hospitals
  • the worship team — those who lead us in worshipping from week to week
  • the readers — those who are bold enough to read God’s word
  • the prayer ministers — those ready to pray with us during the communion time
  • the deacons — those ordained who serve the altar and lock up the church every week
  • the priests — those who celebrate the Lord’s supper for us and with us
  • the congregation — this is most of us, if not all, including any left out

 

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

Carl+

 

 

 

04-04-2014 LOST BUT NOW FOUND

June 16th, 2014 by

LambLast week, the man born blind grew in his understanding of Jesus, and marked a path from assessing Jesus as a man to finally worshipping him as Messiah. Father Carl asked us to consider where we are on this path, and to consider why we might be stuck anywhere short of worship. I hope you have taken some time to do that for yourself and have prayed that those you love will be freed to move closer to Jesus as well.

Imagine the connections this man-once-blind surely experienced as he was finally able to combine the voices of his neighbors with their faces and features. And on this miracle day, the day he could finally see what was going on, these neighbors and church members looked at him and threw him out of the synagogue. (Hospitality there!)

He saw his parents avert their eyes and “not see” what was happening, because they too were afraid of being put out of the synagogue. The man born blind was truly seeing more than he had ever imagined.

Then Jesus hears about this and comes to find him.

The chapter and verse divisions in our Bibles make it seem as though the story ends as the chapter does, but if we keep reading and keep seeing as this man hears Jesus’ words, we can see more clearly why the events of Good Friday are inevitable.

John chapter 10 is the familiar passage about the good shepherd. In it, Jesus describes what he will do for his sheep and draws a contrast to how others treat the sheep. The chapter says that Jesus used this figure of speech and that the Pharisees did not know how it applied, at least initially. Imagine the blind man, experiencing his first sermon in Imax sight and sound, hearing Jesus’ words and experiencing Jesus’ actions in contrast to the way he has just been treated by the Pharisees and his neighbors.

In fact, read John 10 and then go back to read John 9 and notice how many connections you see. Imagine John 10 as the documentary narration to the video of the man’s healing and the religious leader’s response. Jesus words are not abstractions, but expressions of his demonstrated commitments to his people. Our Thursday small group had a great time marking these connections in the scriptures and noticing their current connections as well.

To go even further, and to ramp up for Sunday’s readings, turn to the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel in chapter 34 and see how Jesus picks up the account of a longstanding problem that God has sworn to resolve. Note two things. Underlining or circling can help you absorb the impact of both litanies.

First, what does God say the supposed shepherds are doing? And note how the sheep inevitably begin to become like their shepherds.

Second, what does God say that he himself will do?

You can see why the Pharisees, once they understood the role they are playing in Jesus’ telling of Israel’s story were so ready to kill him for blasphemy and why they were committed to re-establishing their own control over the people. (And as a humbling bonus, keep in mind that Jesus will still be correcting bad practices of shepherding among his own disciples even at the Last Supper)

This weekend, we continue to watch Jesus, as he makes it clear that he is the fulfillment of God’s promise through Ezekiel and that he continues to seek out those who are lost. Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones and the grave of Jesus’ friend create a dark horizon as the specter of death itself frames Jesus’ words and deeds. Just watch what happens next.

grace and certain hope,

Christopher+

The Great 50 Days of Easter Day- 32

June 4th, 2014 by

Scriptures for today.
Psalm 72 · Leviticus 19.1-18 · 1 Thessalonians 5.12-28 · Psalm 119.73-96 · Matthew 6.19-24

Prayer for today.

Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant that, as by your grace going before us you put into our minds good desires, so by your continual help we may bring them to good effect; through Jesus Christ our risen Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Question for today.

Archbishop Cranmer wrote this sermon as an answer to how Christians should live in response to the free gift of the gospel. What form does new life take? How would you answer that question for yourself? How has the life of another Christian been a good answer to that question for you? You can read his entire sermon here http://www.footstoolpublications.com/Homilies/Bk1_Faith4.pdf

Archbishop Cranmer

“Such is the true faith, that the Scripture doeth so much commend, the which when it sees and considers what GOD hath done for us, is also moved through continual assistance of the Spirit of GOD, to serve and please him, to keep his favor, to fear his displeasure, to continue his obedient children, showing thankfulness again by observing or keeping his commandments, and that freely, for true love chiefly, and not for dread of punishment, or love of temporal reward, considering how clearly, without deservings we have received his mercy and pardon freely.”

The Great 50 Days of Easter Day- 31

June 4th, 2014 by

Scriptures for today.
Psalm 61, 62 · Leviticus 16.20-34 · 1 Thessalonians 5.1-11 · Psalm 68.1-20 · Matthew 6.7-15

Prayer for today.

Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant that, as by your grace going before us you put into our minds good desires, so by your continual help we may bring them to good effect; through Jesus Christ our risen Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Question for today.

Those who witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ not only told one another, they told everyone else as well.  This turning outward was inspired by their conviction that Christ was risen and that His rising changed everything. What aspect of Jesus’ life might nudge you to “go public” with your faith?

Below are two “doors” you might open to see how others have responded. If someone finds a charismatic door, send it along. If you watch the door most unfamiliar to you,  and I hope you will, imagine what it felt like for the first hearers of the apostles as they heard this world-changing  news, and felt the love of God break through.

Batoni

Sacramental door

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZ5aYoSr3Hg

Evangelical door

http://www.youtube.com/embed/GBaHPND2QJg

The Great 50 Days of Easter Day- 30

June 4th, 2014 by

Scriptures for today.
Psalm 56, 57 · Leviticus 16.1-19 · 1 Thessalonians 4.13-18 · Psalm 64, 65 · Matthew 6.1-6, 16-18
.

Prayer for today.

Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant that, as by your grace going before us you put into our minds good desires, so by your continual help we may bring them to good effect; through Jesus Christ our risen Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Question for today.

Ambrose was a bishop and well-known preacher who followed the custom of the early church to teach those preparing for membership in the church about the sacraments and their significance in the Christian life. In this sermon, he says that the cleansed people “hastens to the altar” to enjoy the heaveny feast. When have you looked forward to a satisfying meal? How did the meal create such anticipation? Was it the food or the host or the company or the occasion? Ambrose says that the Lord’s Feast contains all that and more.

Ambrose

43. The cleansed people, rich with these adornments, hastens to the altar of Christ, saying: I will go to the altar of God, to God Who makes glad my youth; for having laid aside the slough of ancient error, renewed with an eagle’s youth, it hastens to approach that heavenly feast. It comes, and seeing the holy altar arranged, cries out: You have prepared a table in my sight. David introduces the people as speaking, where he says: The Lord feeds me, and nothing shall be wanting to me, in a place of good pasture has He placed me. He has led me forth by the water of refreshment. And later: For though I walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff have comforted me. You have prepared in my sight a table against them that trouble me. You have anointed my head with oil, and Your inebriating cup, how excellent it is!

44. We must now pay attention, lest perchance any one seeing that what is visible (for things which are invisible cannot be seen nor comprehended by human eyes), should say, God rained down manna and rained down quails upon the Jews, Exodus 16.13 but for the Church beloved of Him the things which He has prepared are those of which it is said: That eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for them that love Him. 1 Corinthians 2:9 So, lest any one should say this, we will take great pains to prove that the sacraments of the Church are both more ancient than those of the synagogue, and more excellent than the manna.

45. The lesson of Genesis just read shows that they are more ancient, for the synagogue took its origin from the law of Moses. But Abraham was far earlier, who, after conquering the enemy, and recovering his own nephew, as he was enjoying his victory, was met by Melchisedech, who brought forth those things which Abraham reverently received. It was not Abraham who brought them forth, but Melchisedech, who is introduced without father, without mother, having neither beginning of days, nor ending, but like the Son of God, of Whom Paul says to the Hebrews: that He remains a priest for ever, Who in the Latin version is called King of righteousness and King of peace.

…47. We have proved the sacraments of the Church to be the more ancient, now recognize that they are superior. In very truth it is a marvellous thing that God rained manna on the fathers, and fed them with daily food from heaven; so that it is said, So man ate angels’ food. But yet all those who ate that food died in the wilderness, but that food which you receive, that living Bread which came down from heaven, furnishes the substance of eternal life; and whosoever shall eat of this Bread shall never die, and it is the Body of Christ.

49. Now consider whether the bread of angels be more excellent or the Flesh of Christ, which is indeed the body of life. That manna came from heaven, this is above the heavens; that was of heaven, this is of the Lord of the heavens; that was liable to corruption, if kept a second day, this is far from all corruption, for whosoever shall taste it holily shall not be able to feel corruption. For them water flowed from the rock, for you Blood flowed from Christ; water satisfied them for a time, the Blood satiates you for eternity. Theydrank and thirsted again, you after drinking will be beyond the power of thirsting; that was in a shadow, this is in truth.

49. If that which you so wonder at is but shadow, how great must that be whose very shadow you wonder at. See now what happened in the case of the fathers was shadow: They drank, it is said, of that Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were done in a figure concerning us. 1 Corinthians 10:4 You recognize now which are the more excellent, for light is better than shadow, truth than a figure, the Body of its Giver than the manna from heaven.

You can read St Ambrose entire sermon to the newly baptized here http://newadvent.org/fathers/3405.htm

The Great 50 Days of Easter Day- 29

June 4th, 2014 by

Scriptures for today. Psalm 31 · Acts 7.55-60 · 1 Peter 2.2-10 · John 14.1-14

Prayer for today.

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life: raise us, who trust in him, from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, that we may seek those things which are above, where he reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Question for today.

The song we heard today repeats a promise God made to his people. What names have you been called by others? Which names have you given to others? What name do you most desire to hear from God?

Name

You can read the lyrics below and watch the video here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lK7ubGt8NxM

I will change your name
You shall no longer be called
Wounded, outcast
Lonely or afraid

I will change your name
Your new name shall be
Confidence, joyfulness
Overcoming one
Faithfulness, friend of God
One who seeks my face.

The Great 50 Days of Easter Day- 28

June 4th, 2014 by

Scriptures for today.
Psalm 55 · Exodus 40.18-38 · 1 Thessalonians 4.1-12 · Psalm 138, 139.1-23 · Matthew 5.38-48

Prayer for today.

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life: raise us, who trust in him, from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, that we may seek those things which are above, where he reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Question for today.
The Exhortation from the Book of Common Prayer is written to enable its hearers and readers to better prepare for the reception of Holy Communion. As you read these words that have called centuries of Christians to reflect on the greatness of Christ and the value of his gathered Body, ask God to give you a grateful heart and the grace to ask forgiveness from God and your neighbor. And gather tomorrow in confidence that Christ will met you at His holy table.

Chalice
“Beloved in the Lord: Our Savior Christ, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood as a sign and pledge of his love, for the continual remembrance of the sacrifice of his death, and for a spiritual sharing in his risen life. For in these holy Mysteries we are made one with Christ, and Christ with us; we are made one body in him, and members one of another. Having in mind, therefore, his great love for us, and in obedience to his command, his Church renders to Almighty God our heavenly Father never-ending thanks for the creation of the world, for his continual providence over us, for his love for all mankind, and for the redemption of the world by our Savior Christ, who took upon himself our flesh, and humbled himself even to death on the cross, that he might make us the children of God by the power of the Holy Spirit, and exalt us to everlasting life. But if we are to share rightly in the celebration of those holy Mysteries, and be nourished by that spiritual Food, we must remember the dignity of that holy Sacrament. I therefore call upon you to consider how Saint Paul exhorts all persons to prepare themselves carefully before eating of that Bread and drinking of that Cup. For, as the benefit is great, if with penitent hearts and living faith we receive the holy Sacrament, so is the danger great, if we receive it improperly, not recognizing the Lord’s Body. Judge yourselves, therefore, lest you be judged by the Lord. Examine your lives and conduct by the rule of God’s commandments, that you may perceive wherein you have offended in what you have done or left undone, whether in thought, word, or deed. And acknowledge your sins before Almighty God, with full purpose of amendment of life, being ready to make restitution for all injuries and wrongs done by you to others; and also being ready to forgive those who have offended you, in order that you yourselves may be forgiven. And then, being reconciled with one another, come to the banquet of that most heavenly Food. And if, in your preparation, you need help and counsel, then go and open your grief to a discreet and understanding priest, and confess your sins, that you may receive the benefit of absolution, and spiritual counsel and advice; to the removal of scruple and doubt, the assurance of pardon, and the strengthening of your faith. To Christ our Lord who loves us, and washed us in his own blood, and made us a kingdom of priests to serve his God and Father, to him be glory in the Church evermore. Through him let us offer continually the sacrifice of praise, which is our bounden duty and service, and, with faith in him, come boldly before the throne of grace [and humbly confess our sins to Almighty God].”

The Great 50 Days of Easter Day- 27

June 4th, 2014 by

Scriptures for today.
Psalm 40, 54 · Exodus 34.18-35 · 1 Thessalonians 3.1-13 · Psalm 51 · Matthew 5.27-37

Prayer for today.

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life: raise us, who trust in him, from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, that we may seek those things which are above, where he reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Question for today.

Getting the message of Easter clear in the minds of believers, their children and the world is a key task given to the church. What parts of the message of Jesus are you most comfortable telling? Which parts are a bit rusty? Who would enjoy hearing you tell about Jesus?

This video illustrates several children’s answers to questions about Easter, and specifically about the ministry of Jesus. This message of Jesus filled the apostles’ mouth s they filled the world with the good news of God in Christ. They not only spoke to one another about their experiences with the Risen Jesus, they spoke to others about him as well. You can watch the video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zY2NH8Wpoog

Cross

Thanks to all the volunteers who throughout the year share the good news of Jesus in word and deed with the children of our parish. We honor you and envy you for the opportunity you have to hear responses like these week by week.

The Great 50 Days of Easter Day- 26

June 4th, 2014 by

Scriptures for today.
Psalm 50 · Exodus 34.1-17 · 1 Thessalonians 2.13-20 · Psalm 114, 115 · Matthew 5.21-26

Prayer for today.

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life: raise us, who trust in him, from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, that we may seek those things which are above, where he reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Question for today.

Gerard Manley Hopkins was a 19th century English poet-priest whose interest in drawing out the inner reality of events and objects, or inscape as he coined the term, has inspired many later readers and writers. In this poem, he recounts the giving of communion to a local soldier for the first time. In what ways have you experienced Holy Communion as strength for the battle, or the rations for your service?

Gerard Manley Hopkins
The Bugler’s First Communion

A buglar boy from barrack (it is over the hill
There)—boy bugler, born, he tells me, of Irish
Mother to an English sire (he
Shares their best gifts surely, fall how things will),

This very very day came down to us after a boon he on
My late being there begged of me, overflowing
Boon in my bestowing,
Came, I say, this day to it—to a First Communion.

Here he knelt then ín regimental red.
Forth Christ from cupboard fetched, how fain I of feet
To his youngster take his treat!
Low-latched in leaf-light housel his too huge godhead.

There! and your sweetest sendings, ah divine,
By it, heavens, befall him! as a heart Christ’s darling, dauntless;
Tongue true, vaunt- and tauntless;
Breathing bloom of a chastity in mansex fine.

Frowning and forefending angel-warder
Squander the hell-rook ranks sally to molest him;
March, kind comrade, abreast him;
Dress his days to a dexterous and starlight order.

How it dóes my heart good, visiting at that bleak hill,
When limber liquid youth, that to all I teach
Yields tender as a pushed peach,
Hies headstrong to its wellbeing of a self-wise self-will!

Then though I should tread tufts of consolation
Dáys áfter, só I in a sort deserve to
And do serve God to serve to
Just such slips of soldiery Christ’s royal ration.

Nothing élse is like it, no, not all so strains
Us: fresh youth fretted in a bloomfall all portending
That sweet’s sweeter ending;
Realm both Christ is heir to and thére réigns.

O now well work that sealing sacred ointment!
O for now charms, arms, what bans off bad
And locks love ever in a lad!
Let mé though see no more of him, and not disappointment

Those sweet hopes quell whose least me quickenings lift,
In scarlet or somewhere of some day seeing
That brow and bead of being,
An our day’s God’s own Galahad. Though this child’s drift

Seems by a divíne doom chánnelled, nor do I cry
Disaster there; but may he not rankle and roam
In backwheels though bound home?—
That left to the Lord of the Eucharist, I here lie by;

Recorded only, I have put my lips on pleas
Would brandle adamantine heaven with ride and jar, did
Prayer go disregarded:
Forward-like, but however, and like favourable heaven heard these.

Gerard Manley Hopkins