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

Waiting So As Not To Miss

August 30th, 2013 by

Waiting is always a challenge, sometimes more than others.  This morning was one of those more than others times. I was in a surgical waiting room with the mother of a two month old watching the sunrise and the hands of the wall clock move ever so laboriously.  We were making waiting type conversation.  We had prayed and now we waited.  Waited for the surgeon to walk through the doors with good news.

As we waited I watched a young couple wait by burying their attention into their phones.  Thumbs moving rapidly, eyes stilled on their devices, not so much as glance toward each other.  Another young mother across from us actually, surprisingly, looked up from her attention grabbing device, which was larger than a phone, to share about her waiting for her three year old to come through her surgery.

That’s the way it used to be in these waiting rooms, people sharing with people, sharing their concerns, caring for one another while waiting.  I don’t know what they were receiving from their phones but I know they were missing some pretty precious moments.

A couple days earlier I had been at the beach waiting for, well a breeze, watching our grandkids being creative with simple sand.  A young couple plopped their blanket down near by.  I wondered if they calculated the distance a three year old could send sand?  I suspected they were close to in range, a bit risky, but we would see.  So I waited.  I’m not kidding, I couldn’t believe it, they unfolded their beach chairs, sat down and immediately disappeared into their whatever’s, I suppose phones.  What were they doing?  More importantly, what were they missing?  — God’s creation — the ocean, maybe a dolphin, a junonia, an olive or a conk, or a sand crab, or our precious grandkids?  I don’t even think a launched fist full of sand could have awakened them.

It’s easier than ever I suppose to miss the important, the precious, and the presence of God in a moment.  Waiting, expectant waiting, waiting with the expectation that there is something holy near by, about to break into our lives makes life alive with anticipation, expectation, and excitement.

I want to share some things I hope you will not miss, that include some waiting.

“Closer”

Don’t miss “Closer.”  The idea is to simply set aside a time (First Fridays) for us to come closer to our Lord, to perhaps wait expectantly.  So next Friday, 9/6, at 7 p.m. everyone is invited to meet in the sanctuary.  Fr. Dave McDaniel is the coordinator for this first meeting and here is what he sees as a very loose agenda.

                     “The three components of our gathering will be worship (Sara and company),
                      prayer (intercessory and healing), and body ministry (prophetic, gifts of the spirit).
                     I am not limiting our time together to these things, but it is how I’m seeing it now.”

To be honest, it’s hard for me to imagine a better way to spend part of an evening than drawing closer to our Lord by waiting on him so as not miss him. It certainly beats’ staring into your phone.

In His Presence”

Don’t miss this the small group campaign for Fall 2013.  We are calling it, “In His Presence.” We are putting together a six-week series on His presence in mission, ministry, worship, word, prayer, and Holy Spirit.  A more complete introduction follows this letter.  We are really excited about this and we hope everyone will participate.

Behind the Scenes

So much is missed because it goes on behind the scenes.  I wish I could share more of what I hear from members of the staff and you all.  Here’s a piece of an email sent to Cindy at the office this week from someone who was blessed by a parishioner responding to a need in her home.

                                Hello Cindy…

                              What kind of church is this? Secret spiritual SWAT Team members
Involved in serious warfare are masquerading as quiet unassuming
Anglican parishioners. I’m speaking specifically of __X.

                              __X arrived today, having cleared his schedule to accommodate my
lunchtime availability.  He walked in like a man on a mission, full of
prayer, compassion, and expertise.  What a refreshing encounter!

                            Not long ago, listening to a Bible CD, I reflected on David’s might
men, wondering if there were any men like them today, filled with
devotion and integrity. Today the answer became clear. God’s Spirit
is alive and well in our midst. Bless the Lord!

Something We Will Miss

We wanted to let you know that we are giving the Fall Festival a sabbatical rest, or year of jubilee, and are not going to offer it this year.  There are a number of things that contributed to this decision including the possibility that the need it originally was responding to is no longer there, i.e. there are now a plethora of fall festivals.

Waiting with Expectation for An Increase

The year began well with giving but summer has taken it’s toll.  June and July were each on average $10,000 below what we budgeted.  I don’t know yet the numbers for August and obviously hope this slump has been broken.  If you have taken the summer off from giving, well, fall is almost here.  We have been able to continue to help those with needs, buy some needed new equipment for the worship ministry, and send Fr. Christopher to Africa from a generous discretionary gift that is not part of the operating budget.  We are hoping and trusting this is just a summer slump. And we want to be sure to say many thanks to you all who continue to give so faithfully.

Blessed Labor Day Weekend to You All,
Carl+

PS And a final PTL, the surgery this morning went well!

Introduction to the Small Group Campaign For Fall 2013 — IN HIS PRESENCEbanner In HIs Presence

At the heart of our theme, In His Presence, is our vision statement that is on our Sunday bulletin each week — TRANSFORMATION FOR THE SAKE OF OTHERS.   We are going to look at HOW we are transformed in six different, but overlapping arenas.

But first, we need to say that we believe that it is our Lord’s desire that his children be transformed, that is, grow, develop, and mature in their spiritual lives, just as we expect our children to grow and mature in their physical and emotional lives.  God wants us to grow and wants to be part of that process. And the purpose of our growth is so that we can more fully love and serve our Lord and others. We do indeed expect to mature then as children of light and as citizens of his kingdom, and wholeheartedly believe this is God’s plan for his people.

We are going to look at six different arenas where He has promised to be present with us… these are – in Mission, Ministry, Worship, Word, Prayer, and the Holy Spirit. The way we are going to look at this is using the opening of the New Testament — the four gospels and Acts.  We are convinced that as we venture into these arenas with one another, we will experience exciting changes in our lives.

Matthew opens with Immanuel, that is — means, God with us.  The close of Matthew’s gospel sends us out to do, to teach people to obey, to make disciples and it concludes with a promise that he will be with us to the end.   “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

It’s God’s promise of his presence in MISSION.

–  Mark opens with Jesus baptism, no Christmas story here, it’s right to calling and equipping for ministry.  And it ends with all sorts of ministry going on — go, preach, baptize, and all sorts of miraculous signs and wonders will accompany your ministry.  I will be with you, nothing will harm you!

It’s God’s promise of his presence in MINISTRY.

Luke opens in the temple.  People are expectantly waiting for Messiah, and they are not disappointed.  He comes to them in the temple and they respond with worship.  His gospel closes in the temple with his people worshipping — the last verse reads — And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

And so we have the promise of his presence in WORSHIP.

John opens with THE WORD OF GOD.  You all are familiar with the prologue I’m sure … In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word of God became flesh and was with us.  And he closes with, well basically, too many words.  (John 21:25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.)   That is, all of us filled with the Holy Spirit going forth as enacted, enlivened, living words of God.  Now alive and living in his story.

The promise of his presence in his WORDS.

Acts — Then we will look at two dominant words in the Acts of the ApostlesPrayer and Holy Spirit, and we will see how we discover God’s imminent presence here as well.  You really can’t miss the presence of God in Luke’s journal here and the part that both prayer and the Holy Spirit play in the life of the early church.

And the point of his presence?  It is for our development, maturity, growth, and transformation.  And the purpose of that growth?  It is for the sake of others!

As you join us — we will find ourselves pursuing the purpose and meaning for our lives.  And as we venture into his transforming presence we cannot help but discover, perhaps inch by inch, perhaps by leaps and bounds, but either way we will discover who we are created to be in Christ Jesus our Lord and realize that our destiny as his children is to live with him and in him in this world and in the world to come.

There is no greater adventure — period.  Join us.