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+

In His Presence at New Covenant Church

October 7th, 2013 by

I told someone again this week how thankful I am to be part of this church.  I really love Sunday mornings and all the ways we can experience the Lord’s presence. Here are three: there is scripture, there is the sacrament, and there is the Spirit.It’s the three streams of our Anglican tradition.

Scripture

Fr. Christopher said Sunday in his sermon that when we bring live, living issues to the Word of God we can expect transformation.  It is good to come to the Word for information, for knowledge, and the promise is that it’s never a waste of time, never void of value, but when we come with our living issues we can expect to encounter the living Word and be changed in his presence.  That’s why we take preaching so seriously.  We seek to have something to say; not just to have to say something. 

Sacrament banner In HIs Presence

A pastor from a non-denominational church once said to me that what he liked about our Anglican way was that not everything hinged on the message.  In other words, he saw the liturgy and the sacraments as having value that didn’t depend on an individuals performance on a given day.  We say we believe in the “Doctrine of the Real Presence.”  God is present in the sacrament even on our bad hair days.  Isn’t that good to know?  My friend might have mentioned our love of mysterium tremendum as well.

Spirit

Of course any and all experiences of God come via his Holy Spirit. One place where the charismatic expression is available in our Sunday morning is in the times of worship and praise.  We take time to lift up our hearts and one reason for the repetition in the lyrics is to allow it to move from our head to our hearts.  Another thing we have been doing is allowing us to include our own notes to the Lord, sing our own song to him.  Like when you send a greeting card and you put in your own note, share your heart.  Hallmark is good, but not all that personal.  And scripture tells us that God inhabits the praises of his people, his presence again.

So in addition to the fall program and seeking his presence in mission, ministry, worship, the word, prayer and the Holy Spirit we have Sunday mornings!  So many ways God is present, it knocks my socks off.  Apparently, that actually happened according to the scriptures.  I am sure some of us relate more to one way or stream more than the others, and that is fine, so long as we make room for others who prefer the other streams or ways.  I am a person who finds God most often in journaling, solitude and contemplative prayer – and yet I can’t describe how much I love our praise sets on Sunday morning.  And while I love to prepare my sermons and seek a word from our Lord, I have never walked away empty from any sermon at our parish.  And, the sacrament and the mystery it holds – well, it’s a lifesaver week after week.

Thanks to you all for being part of New Covenant and making it such an incredible place to worship in his presence.

Carl+

 “In His Presence” Fall small group study videos and discussion questions