05-09-2014 ” You Can’t Eat Just One”

June 16th, 2014 by

A Friday Message from Sara Buffington, Worship Leader 5-9-2014

 

“YOU CAN’T EAT JUST ONE”

Doritos

Everyone in my family knows my weakness for Nacho   Cheese Doritos.  If Mommy eats just one, she’ll end up  eating the whole bag.  If I get a taste, I just can’t stop myself.

I think the Presence of God is something like that.  If you get a taste, you want more and more and more.  He awakens a desire in you that makes you, as the psalmist says, “long, even faint for Your courts.  My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” (Ps. 84)

But my love for Doritos is not uncontrollable. The reason you don’t always see me with cheesy, orange fingers is that I have a method: I don’t buy them. I don’t even bring them into the house. And the longer I go without them, the more I can handle my craving until, eventually, it just quietly dies away.

But unlike Nacho Cheese Doritos, which (let’s face it) are bad for us, being in the Presence of God is so good for us.  But we avoid Him, keep Him at arm’s length from our hearts, our homes, our schools, and our workplaces, and eventually we forget how good He is.

But we can come back to Him and “taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” (Ps. 34)  Come on Sunday, let’s worship Him together, ask His Presence to move around us, among us, and within us, and let’s reawaken the desire to be with Him, constantly

Sara Buffington

 

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+

05-02-2014 Building the Plane as We Fly It…

June 16th, 2014 by

From Kevin Higgins, International Director of Global Teams

Most of our friends and partners through the years know Susan and I as people who worked among Muslims and lived in South Asia.  And we faced all the challenges that any one in another culture and language and religious context faces: sickness, confusion, discouragement, stress, and burn out. We also experienced moments of great satisfaction and joy.

I have now been the International Director of Global Teams for 14 years. We have been living in the USA that entire time and traveled to more and more countries as Global Teams has grown.

To be honest my role as director. ..training, casting vision, seeking to discern His leading, learning to more humbly hear His voice in my teammates, and being part of a Global Teams movement that is comprised of a dramatically diverse multicultural membership and leadership, has been perhaps the most challenging thing I have ever done…more challenging than fish farms in Asia or sharing His words in a rural mosque.

This last week our international leadership team saw a short clip of a commercial which depicted a group building an airplane. ..as it flew with passengers aboard at 35,000 feet. Yes it was a created scene and full of humor.  But it portrays exactly how the last 14 years have felt: trying to build a movement while it is moving…construction in midair.

How do we know who the right people are to send out?  Where? How do we train them well. ..not just one time but as a lifelong process of growth and transformative discipleship?  How do we honor and work with each other in a multicultural and multilingual organization? How do we develop financially as a global movement and not just with funding from the West?

These things keep me on my knees.

I know that many people pray for me and for Global Teams.  We count on it and can’t imagine doing anything without it. ..

I’m grateful to be back with New Covenant again this week. ..home to Susan and I and to Global Teams North America and Sheryl and in many ways to Global Teams Latin America as well.

You are such a blessing. ..

Building the plane as we fly it…

Kevin Higgins

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+

 

 

 

Good Friday Epistle: A Sermon from St. Augustine

June 16th, 2014 by

AugustineGood Friday Epistle for April 18, 2014

Dear Members of New Covenant,

Good Friday provokes all sorts of questions and emotions for me as I suspect it does for you all. Reading and walking through the Stations this Wednesday one of the pilgrims simply began to cry, perhaps the most appropriate response that can be made.

Common questions are: Why did Jesus have to die? And, how does his death effect my salvation? Over the centuries theologians have grappled with these questions, developing at least a half dozen theories of the atonement, and it’s worth the time to hear even a brief word from one the fathers of our faith. Here’s a brief clip from one of Augustine’s sermons on this topic:

If Christ had not been put to death, death would not have died. The devil was conquered by his own trophy of victory. The devil jumped for joy, when he seduced the first man, and cast him down to death. By seducing the first man, he killed him; by killing the last man, he lost the first from his snare. The victory of our Lord Jesus Christ came when he rose again from the dead, and ascended into heaven. It was at this point that the text from the Book of Revelation, which you heard read today was fulfilled: “The lion of the tribe of Judah has won the day.” (Revelation 5.5). The one who was slain as a lamb is now called a lion, a lion on account of his courage, a lamb on account of his innocence; a lion because he was unconquered: a lamb because of his gentleness. By his death, the slain lamb has conquered the lion who “goes around seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5.8). The devil, on the other hand, is here called a lion for his savagery, rather than his bravery… The devil jumped for joy when Christ died; and by the very death of Christ the devil was overcome: he took, as it were, the bait in the mousetrap. He rejoiced at Christ’s death, believing himself to be the commander of death. But that which caused his joy dangled the bait before him. The Lord’s cross was the devil’s mousetrap: the bait which caught him was the death of the Lord.

Atonement or At-one-ment

An English term originally coined in 1526 by William Tyndale to translate the Latin term reconciliatio, which has since come to have a developed meaning of “the work of Christ” or “the benefits of Christ gained for believers by his death and resurrection.”

Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430)

Widely regarded as the most influential Latin patristic writer, Augustine was converted to Christianity at the Northern Italian city of Milan in the summer of 386. He returned to North Africa, and was made Bishop of Hippo in 395. He was involved in two major controversies: the Donatist controversy over the church and sacraments, and the Pelagian controversy over grace and sin. He also made substantial contributions to the development of the doctrine of the Trinity, and the Christian understanding of history.

Notes: THEOLOGY, Alister E. McGrath

Blessings to you all this day,

Carl+

PS One theologian said Jesus’ theory of the atonement was to invite us to dinner and offer us himself in his body and his blood, at-one-ment with him.

PPS You are invited to join our Lord, at-one-ment, in communion, each of the Great 50 days of Easter.

                        Monday, Wednesday, Friday — at 12 noon

                        Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday — at 7 a.m.

 

 

03-14-2014 Scare Tactic?

June 16th, 2014 by

Dear Member of New Covenant,

 

SCARE TACTIC?

If your child clicks on KIK.com and enters a teen girl’s profile she will be solicited for sex within 30 minutes. Predators also meet at one place and suggest a move for further conversation to another.

  • A lot of children now have “Shadow Accounts” on Facebook, and MySpace– do you know where to find them?
  • The average age for first sexual experience is now between 3rd and 4th grades.
  • The number presented by Detective Padgett of young children who are exposed to hard-core pornography was astronomical, and the number that tried out what they saw was even more frightening.
  •  And what about “Porn Dads” – soccer dads by day and porn addicts by night. What’s wrong with this anyway?

I didn’t know this. Did you?

After learning this Fr. Christopher was heard to say that he was cutting off the electricity to his house to protect his family.

When I returned from Africa Sunday night I heard this from my children, who heard it Sunday night at our church. We are inviting Detective Padgett to return and speak with our youth.

As well, we will have another time to meet and talk about ways to protect our families, without cutting off electricity, on the 30th from 6 to 8 p.m. Not to be missed.

Scare tactic? Or is it just plain scary? Is there an option?

Blessings to you all,

Carl+

The Great 50 Days of Easter

May 21st, 2014 by

After 40 days of Lenten fasting and preparing, we enter an extended 50 days of Easter celebration and mission. Immediately following Easter, new members of the ancient church (professing their faith, receiving Baptism and celebrating Holy Communion) continued their discipleship in faith through guided reflection on the mysteries of the faith.

This Easter instruction, or mystagogy, was designed to establish new believers in the life of faith, and equip them to share in the mysteries of faith. This new season for new converts was also a reminder to the entire church that Easter brings a renewed start for us as well. This invitation is for us as well. We are inviting you to join us in our celebration of the Great 50 Days of Easter. (Sunday April 20th – Sunday June 8th) During the Great 50 Days of Easter, we have committed to a daily celebration of Holy Communion as an expression of our gratitude for the great sacrifice and accomplishments of Jesus Christ. The service is designed for those who may be on their way to work or taking their lunch break. Our Sunday service schedule remains the same. The weekday schedule is as follows. Because it is the Anglican custom for the Eucharist to always be celebrated in community, (at least 2 people present) we are seeking a shared commitment of the parish family for this intention to be put into practice. Let us know which day(s) you will join us.

Sunday

8 and 10

Mondays

Noon

Tuesdays

7am

Wednesdays

Noon

 Thursdays

7am

 Fridays

Noon

Saturdays

7am

We will also offer 50 days of encouragement to continue in our embrace of the new life guaranteed by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Each day, we will send a daily short email with a reflection by a member of New Covenant, a classic writing from our Anglican heritage, or a selection of the original mystagogical sermons from the early centuries of the church.We will be celebrating the weekday Eucharist with the prayers provided in Common Worship, the contemporary version of the Book of Common Prayer authorized by the Church of England and used by many parishes in the Anglican Mission and around the world. Each Easter Email will include a scripture, a prayer for the day and a question to guide your reflection. Please use these as a way to nurture your reflection on Easter and enrich your own worship of the resurrected and reigning Christ. To participate, please send an email to info@new-covenant-church.com with Easter Email in the subject line.

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

What Time Should We Be Ready to Go?

August 9th, 2013 by

“What time should we be ready to go?” “The service starts at 5:30, so 5:00am should be fine.” The Cathedral of St Anthony of Padua in Dunkwa-on-Offin has been beginning each ghana church aug 2013 9day with morning Eucharist for years. The service began as a way to serve the men and women of the parish who had to quickly be on their way to work. The combination of walking commuters and challenging roads led to the service beginning at this early hour.

“First thing in the morning”, the Bishop said, “they want to begin their day with worship, prayer, and Holy Communion.”

As a first-time guest to the Diocese, as a priest in this diocese, it was obvious how busy their days were already. Commute times almost as long as ours despite distances being small; pressures of family and work; challenges they met with grace and ingenuity. The idea of Communion this early in the morning, every morning, seemed ambitious. “We should at least wait until morning has arrived,” I thought to myself.

The service began, oscillating in the quiet morning air between the traditional English of the Prayer Book and the Twi responses and choruses that spilled out over the gathered congregation and through the open windows to let the neighbors of this parish know that morning has arrived and that God’s people have gathered to life their voices and hearts in praise. “The light of Christ”, they sang as the Gospel book was brought out and the reading began. Any remaining drowsiness or shadows were driven out as the clapping and harmony filled the chapel.

Hearing the Deacon as he exhorted us to trust that If God has given us a task, He will surely give us strength to accomplish it. Listening to the prayers of the people, full of expectation and zeal that crossed the language divide. All before 6:00am.

What a way to begin the day. Before the tasks of the day intrude and before the regrets of yesterday have fully formed in your mind to harass you, they have lifted their voices in prayer and praise, and have gathered at the Lord’s Table.

The rest of the day spread in many different directions, with each person returning to their homes, to their workplaces and to their responsibilities buoyed People in Ghanaby the morning’s grace.

Our days spread in many of the same patterns, and the challenges we face in our parish are distinct but of a type with the challenges of our brothers and sisters in central Ghana. While 5:30am daily Eucharist is outside of our custom, beginning the morning with a blend of  traditional prayers, scripture and your own unique dialect and dialogue in prayer can occur before our commute, before our daily tasks and before the sleep is even fully removed from our eyes. Perhaps, not only may you notice a difference, but maybe your neighbors and co-workers will be able to tell,(even if they cannot hear your shower singing), that you began your day with prayer and praise, first thing in the morning.

God Is Looking for Worshipers – This Means You

August 1st, 2013 by

 June 28, 2013 Friday Epistle from Sara Buffington, Worship Leader – God is Looking for Worshipers. And this means you. When the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, Moses and Aaron approached Pharaoh with a message. “This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” (Ex 8:1) It was a message worth repeating–it is recorded six times between chapters 8 and 10. God was, and is, calling His people to worship. So what does it mean, exactly, to worship? Gerrit Gustafson, author of The Adventure of  Worship, defines worship this way: Worship is the act and attitude of wholeheartedly giving yourself to God–spirit, soul, mind, and body.

 worship web small

 

If you participated in last fall’s churchwide study on the Jesus Creed, this may ring some bells.  We said this every week.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)

This doesn’t just mean you “get into the music” on Sunday.  Worship includes singing, but it certainly is not limited by it.  Worship is a life of sacrifice.  When you love God with every ounce of your being, you don’t have anything left for yourself.  You give yourself to God–and you trust yourself to Him.  

Last Sunday we sang these words, first one half of the congregation, then the other.  “The cry of my heart is to bring you praise from the inside out.”

God is looking for worshipers.  You were made for it.  It is your natural eternal occupation.  Just read Revelation 19: 1.

Then I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God!”

But that’s then, you may say, not now.  This is a time for nice songs and a comfortable life where God doesn’t ask that much of us but gives us what we ask for.  But God has called us out of Egypt today to worship Him!  Let’s join the holy roar of heaven right now and fulfill the calling that has been on us since the moment God created us.

Sara

 

Tags: ,