01-17-2014 A FIRST AND FINEST

June 16th, 2014 by

Dear Members of New Covenant,

 

A FIRST AND FINEST

 

It was a first and finest for me – a combined retreat for the worship team, staff, a couple intercessors, a “tag-a-long” or two, and the vestry. Our leaders were fantastic as were the participants!

From a vestry person: “It was the best vestry retreat ever.” Question, “Why?” Answer, “Because we had good singers!”

Ron Rand spoke Sunday morning and as someone said,

“Dr. Ron Rand really hits the nail on the head.” (You had to be there and have a 4” twisted nail in your hand.)

And I had forgotten what an anointed worship leader Bill Blomquist is. From what I have heard, the Holy Spirit was mightily present among the worship team. Here’s one comment,

“The song we created was sung over me specifically. How powerful! I haven’t danced with Jesus in 15 years…”

Here are some more responses. There are quite a few and my hope in sharing so many is that in some way this allows you all to share in the experience and the blessing of the retreat.

“I was a “tag-a-long”…neither a sheep nor a goat!  Yet, the Lord knew I was to be there.  I was overwhelmed by the love of Jesus, and hearing once again, that I WAS qualified to spread his word.  I heard that I need to step out of my comfort zone and have more initiative.  A staff member said on Monday that I was “glowing.”  If he only knew ….

“Dr. Rand was an awesome speaker…his enthusiasm, knowledge, energy and joy for the Lord was great. Yet he brought it to our level…what a blessing!

“Words from the weekend for me: Encouraged; empowered; enlisted.”

“I went into the weekend with no real expectations. I really didn’t think God would work the way He did. But should I be surprised? All I know is that I REALLY needed this retreat.”

“I was so blessed by Ron and his teaching. I felt like God reached into my heart, took the broken, hurt and seemingly dead areas and restored it.”

“The inclusion of the worship team topped off the weekend, with God reassuring me that I have been restored.”

“I felt overwhelmed by His Spirit as we worshipped on Saturday’s end. What a joy!”

“This vestry retreat was so refreshing and seemingly uncontrolled, yet orderly, if that makes sense. It was fun, yet serious.”

“I felt the Spirit was free to move as He pleased without us getting in the way.  Ron has such a great way of teaching relationally. He was such a gift last weekend.”

“Bob Wilson was so tenderhearted and added to the reverence of the weekend as well.”

“It was pretty awesome!

“I was really inspired by the retreat through Ron’s heart for God’s word, his passion through the Holy Spirit for what God is doing at New Covenant, and his practical “get out there and do it” attitude. It gave me a greater passion for the lost and reinforced everything we have been learning about obedience through the 10 Second Rule.

“I was touched by the Trinity of salvation: From judgment by God’s law, to mercy, and then grace. He explained it in such a simple yet effective way. I am constantly judging myself by the law and lacking in faith that his actions on earth was the mercy I need. I cannot give myself mercy for I am the accused. Only through Jesus is there mercy.  And, the grace is the promise. It makes more sense now.”

“Being with our leadership as they took seriously the act of confession, searching and applying scripture, interceding for our church members and speaking into each other’s lives.”

“A sense of God’s holy presence was so strong throughout our time, but especially during confession and worship times.”

“What a blessing it was to see new gifts of the Spirit released in people’s lives as they worshiped and prayed for others, not even seeking these gifts for themselves. Isn’t that just like God?”

“It was an energetic time of calm reflection and encouragement.”

“I am always touched by the way New Covenant Citizens almost instantly come together in trust. It was especially close this time. I wish everyone at NCAC could experience these Advances at least yearly. I also was traveling and felt both blessings and assault this week. I am very thankful for the recharge of last weekend. Maybe we should call them recharges instead of retreat or advance.

“The speaker presented an arsenal of tools that we can use to intentionally allow the Holy Spirit to transform us into Christlikeness.  As we use these tools in daily living, it can also help others in our church and community desire and choose to be transformed.”

“The time of confession, and the time of affirming one another provided assurances that the Holy Spirit was with us, and was binding us tightly together in Truth and Love.”

“The retreat was a clear reminder that our faith and our leadership is rooted in the quality of our relationships, with God, one another, and with those we are called to reach.”

“I just looked around, knowing so many people’s stories. It’s like a stunning mosaic to look around and see this.”

“… a strong faith here kept me holding on.”

“Feeling of acceptance, family.”

“This weekend there was a lot of stuff, and folks were impacted by different parts of it. So while we may not have come away with a shared sense of one message, we did come away with the shared experience of having been blessed, albeit in different ways, maybe, and I think that’s unifying in itself. A bit like Closer.”

“What continually comes to mind are the characteristics of a positive leader.  I appreciated the characteristics along with the scriptures in general.  And, then, on reflection, my strength (service) and area for opportunity (immersion in the word).”

“The time together with the group was valuable so we could actually talk and spend time together.”

“Singing with the worship team was an amazing experience.  Although we can/may do the same in the future, I really feel as if that particular moment, those particular emotions, etc., will not be replicated.  It was very special.”

“For me, I especially appreciated the times of affirmation, and thought the “commissioning” was a neat time…”

“The fact that my New Covenant family has always been for me any time I needed them. Always loving me no matter what.”

“Worship and budgets and meals and plans all tie back to the privilege and duty to steward our relationships well.”

“A great way to begin a new calendar year together.”

 

These quotes come from members of the vestry, staff, tag-a-longs, and the worship team. Feel free to ask them about this retreat, or as Ron called it, “An Advance.”

 

Blessings to You All!

Carl+

01-10-2014 HEAVENLY IMPACT

June 16th, 2014 by

 

 

Our family’s first week in the CO Rockies foothills, 8 thousand feet, the thermometer dipped below 30 below. It was the new home of Episcopal Renewal Ministries. A far cry from Washington DC’s climate, our former home where I was on the staff of ERM.

It wasn’t that I wanted to remember just how cold cold can be, actually record breaking, in traveling to Akron, Ohio, earlier this week, it was to visit a couple friends, Dave and Judy Smith, and spend some time with one of my heroes of the faith, Chuck Irish, who impacted our lives deeply.

Chuck was one of the leaders in the renewal that swept our country from the 70s to the 90s. He was a full time parish priest in Bath, Ohio, and was also a full time director of ERM. Now he is chair bound with Parkinson’s. I am still soaking in the precious several hours of chewing the fat with him and then the hours of breaking bread with Dave and Judy. My day, my life, was most wonderfully impacted.

En route and between planes I read through your impact cards – what a blessing! Thank You!

 

We had asked at the Sunday service and then at the Parish Meeting for you all to share something that impacted you at, or about, New Covenant this past year. We got close to 100 responses. Again, thank you.

 

(AND we would love to hear from the rest of you. Please take a communication card from the ushers this Sunday and put it in the rectangular basket!)

 

Here’s a summary of what you shared.

 

Far and away the leader of the impact pack of responses was the worship and the team. There were also quite a few who were touched by the support, love, grace, and forgiveness of you all, the members, the body of Christ. You all also impacted quite a few with your kindness, gentleness, welcomingness, the extended familiness, oneness, witness to faith and love of our Lord, and support for those hurting and in need.

See what I mean about a blessing?One thing I found interesting was how many said “Closer” and “small groups” impacted them. It was clear that those who participate in them are sincerely impacted.

Here are some of the other ways you said you were impacted:

Teachings, sermons, VBS, children’s programs, the youth groups, the tapestry, prayer ministry, Captivate – women’s conference, “In His Presence,” “With,” the healing service, children dancing in the aisles, mission and outreach opportunities like the caroling, the 10 Second Rule, communication like the Friday Epistles, pastoral care and hospital visits.

Reading not just between the lines, it seems clear that most of us are most impacted by loving, caring, supportive relationships.

It was one of those “like yesterday” moments as I was saying good-bye to my friend. Holding hands with him in prayer, I realized that friendships forged in Jesus’ love are not limited by time and space, and impact not only our lives but somehow in their transcendent way impact those around us, on earth and maybe even in heaven.

Do you suppose we could be impacted by heaven? Impact heaven? Do you suppose when we love one another, “We are seated in heavenly places?” The apostle Paul did.

 

Thanks for the Blessings,

Carl+

01-03-2014 Things Change

June 16th, 2014 by

Dear Members of New Covenant,

 

While the transition from 2013 to 2014 may seem seamless, there’s still the question, what lies ahead? Things change.

Just look at the transition our story makes as it transitions from Christmas to Epiphany.

  • Exit shepherds – Enter Magi
  • Exit stables – Enter palace
  • Exit poverty – Enter wealth
  • Exit angels – Enter dreams
  • Exit Mary’s lullaby – Enter Rachel’s wail

Something less than seamless, wouldn’t you say?

 

The scriptural narrative has its twists and turns, not unlike our own stories. While the magi’s gifts are gold frankincense and myrrh, Pilate’s gifts will be a crown indeed, but one of thorns. And his throne for this king will be a cross. The next gentile after the magi to proclaim him Lord will be a soldier at his cross, “surely he was the Son of God.” And the brightness of the star will become a shroud of darkness over the land.

 

While things here change, something that will not change is the good news that Jesus is now enthroned at the right hand of God. He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings, fact, end of story, and truth forevermore. That will not change! That is what is ahead!

 

Epiphany says to me, then, that our response in this world is to get to him by any route we can, bring our most precious of gifts, and worship him!

 

Blessed New Year to you all.

Carl+

 

PS — ANNUAL PARISH MEETING

This Sunday immediately following the later service we will have our Annual Parish Meeting. This year instead of ministry reports we will be sharing a gift of ministry and asking you all to share what has impacted you at New Covenant in 2013. Our plan is to be serving pizza and salad by noon.

 

PPS — TWO RETREATS

How Did Practice Get Squeezed Out of Our Lives?

September 27th, 2013 by

Last week, standing in the rain, I watched a young man work mightily to instill the basic skills and commitments of world-class soccer players  2004_09_27_Jackson_Soccer_01 into the rain-soaked heads of eight small children. They were all much more excited about playing in the rain. Much more excited than the  line of parents waiting for practice to come to its soggy end. Soccer practice is new to me. Watching practice is new to me. There is much to learn.

As writer Dan Heath  asks:
“How did practice get squeezed out of our lives? Certainly the need hasn’t disappeared. …The enemies of practice are  pride and fear and self-satisfaction. To practice requires humility. It forces us to admit we don’t know everything. It forces us to submit to feedback  from people who can teach us….To practice isn’t to declare, I’m bad. To practice is to declare, I can be better.”

How does this relate to our Fall Church-wide study? Twice a year, we ask all of our parish to sync up for 6 weeks. To focus, as a parish, on a particular theme or message. To help us catch a common vision, to build some shared vocabulary and share in a common experience.

This is a great chance to jump back in if your summer carried you far and away. To join in if you are new to our parish and would like to become more connected. To renew old friendships or make new ones.

In His Presence will walk us down 6 paths to draw closer to God. Mission, Ministry, Worship, Word, Prayer all by the power of the Holy Spirit. The teachers and interviewees are people you know. The soundtrack was recorded by our own worship team.

And that leads us back to the issue of practice. Coach John Wooden once warned coaches that “Bustling bodies making noise can be deceptive.” Activity alone doesn’t guarantee progress.

This Sunday, we will see how Jeremiah’s land deal, the rich man’s request and Timothy’s commission point us to a fundamental truth about the life of every disciple, and a key to moving deeper in our relationship with God.  There is much to learn, even when it is raining. See you Sunday.

grace and certain hope,
Christopher+