Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Season of Advent is Approaching

The Season of Pentecost is coming to an end.  The Season of Advent begins the 1st Sunday of December. The liturgical seasons reflected on the Church calendar are… 




This liturgical cycle has a long and rich history and has developed around aspects of the Christian journey and experience.  The Advent-Christmas cycle focuses on the Incarnation, God coming to us and dwelling among us.  In the Lent-Easter cycle we dwell on the Lord’s Resurrection and God raising us to new life with Him.  Incarnation and Resurrection (Christmas and Easter) are the two anchors of the Christian year.  Advent and Lent precede these two great seasons of celebration and are seasons of preparation.
What is called Ordinary Time lies between the Lent-Easter and Advent-Christmas liturgical seasons.  These are known as The Season of Epiphany and The Season of Pentecost.  Epiphany is about Christ being made “manifest” to a world that desperately needs a Savior.  Pentecost refers to the Holy Spirit empowering the Christian life and making all things new.

With all that said, let us look at the approaching season of  Advent.  The word Advent means coming or arrival.  Since it is the season before Christmas, it is logically about getting ready for Jesus’ coming.  We naturally think of Jesus’ First Coming at Christmas, but if we listen to the readings that are assigned from the lectionary during Advent, we quickly realize that it is also about getting ready for Jesus’ Second Coming, which is the long-awaited fruition of Christ’s redemptive work in the world. 

It might seem strange to us that Advent, the first season of the Church year, is also about the very end of things.  It makes the strong theological point, however, which is that the flow of history from God’s perspective (Salvation History) has both a

purpose and a destination.  History is not a randomly stitched together series of events; rather, it is headed somewhere and God is in the driver’s seat.   There is a divine destination for all of us, and the Season of Advent is about discovering the Way to that destination.  The Way is, of course, Jesus.  Therefore, whether we are talking about Jesus’ first coming as a baby lying in a feeding trough in a stable at Bethlehem 2000 years ago, or about Jesus coming to us in power and glory at the End Times, Advent is about God coming to us; thus we have the great cry of Advent, “Come, O Come, Emmanuel!”                                                         
Father Rob


A Discovery in Corinth

Five of us from our parish spent two weeks in Greece and Turkey on a study tour led by two professors from the seminary which I attended.  We followed in the footsteps of St. Paul, We spent some wonderful time in places familiar to all of us from Scripture, such places as Phillipi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth and Ephesus
In addition to seeing and enjoying these great biblical sites, our goal was to understand the world of Paul and explore why he was so successful in sharing the Gospel in a culture so antithetical to his own Judeo-Christian worldview.
When talking about Paul’s success, one first needs to affirm that it is God’s Holy Spirit working the hearts of the men that opens them to a new life in Christ.  We also need to acknowledge something that is obvious from St. Paul’s own letters and from St. Luke’s recounting of Paul’s ministry in Acts, that Paul was a very gifted communicator.  A third observation to acknowledge about Paul’s success is that Paul had another remarkable spiritual gift, the gift of perseverance.  Paul had spent years and sacrificed much establishing and maturing the churches in these places we visited. 
But there is one additional facet to Paul’s evangelical success that was brought into sharp focus through my visiting and studying the places Paul visited.  The gentile world of Paul was ready to hear Paul’s message.  It was the right time, what Paul calls in Galatians 4:4 the “fullness of time.”  The Greco-Roman world was a society desperately needing God to speak hope and purpose into their lives.  It was the right time for God to move decisively in human history and in the human heart. 
To better understand this, one can look at the daily lives of the people populating the great urban centers in which Paul preached.  The people of Paul’s time had very little upon which to pin meaning, purpose and hope. The pantheon of gods as the Greeks perceived them were capricious, and the pagan religions and philosophies of the time could not provide answers to life.  The chasm between heaven and earth, divine and human, was seemingly un-bridgeable.  This reality was manifested in the fact that, in the Greco-Roman world, morality was largely disconnected from religion.  God’s precious gift of sexuality was unbounded and extraordinarily abused.  People were filled with a sense of being on their own in an unpredictable world, with no hope of escape. Happiness and fulfillment were however one could obtain it. 
Along comes Paul.  The Good News he bears is that God is knowable, but more than that, God can be known intimately and personally.  Although Paul in 1 Cor. 13:12 says that for now we can only see his face as in a “glass dimly,” God has unambiguously revealed Himself to us and spoken purpose, direction and meaning into our lives.  This “God-Speak” is the sacred and inspired Word of Hebrew Scripture, the Hebrews being the people chosen by God to be the bearers of this self-revelation of God.  More than that, Paul tells them that  God so loved the world that He stepped into creation and lived among us. It is this steadfast, unchanging, sacrificial love that is the true character of God. 
Unlike the gods of the Pantheon, we now can know what to expect of God and what God expects of us.   Paul’s Judeo-Christian message re-connects morality and faith.  Forgiveness, redemption and hope are accessible.  The chasm between God and man is bridged, not by what we have done, but by what God has done.   And finally, we have the blessed assurance of all these things because God now dwells in us, the blessed Holy Spirit.
Now, to my personal discovery in Corinth… As I stood among the archeological ruins of this once great city  where Paul lived, worked and preached, and with this picture of Paul’s world and his message flooding my mind, it came to me with great clarity that our post-Christian culture of today is not very different from Paul’s world.  The void culture leaves in the human heart is the same.  The church’s message and calling is the same.  Be assured that the Holy Spirit is out in front of us preparing the human heart as surely He was doing so in Paul’s day. 
Paul’s mission field therefore sounds much like our mission field.  We can thus learn at least three ways Paul’s ministry can be a model for ours:
1.      First, we need Paul’s perseverance.  In places like Ephesus and Corinth, Paul lived and worked for years among the people, serving them, representing Christ to them, and presenting a different way to live according the rule of God.  We as Christians in the long line of Christians since Paul’s time are called to persevere in being Christ’s ambassadors to this broken and hurting world.

2.      Secondly, we need Paul’s steadfast love and compassion for those who have not yet heard the Good News of what God has done for us through Christ. Paul exhibited a sacrificial and self-giving love that can only be acquired by being “in Christ,” as Paul was fond of saying..  Paul was often beaten, driven out of town, or worse; yet, he would dust himself off and forge ahead for the Kingdom of God, motivated by God’s kind of love for a people he didn’t even know.

3.      Finally, like the communities that grew up in the wake of the Apostle Paul, Holy Trinity needs to be a port in the storm, a hospital for sinners and a haven for those who are beat up and trodden down by this world.  Paul established house churches in places like Corinth, Ephesus and Thessalonica.  These places were ruled by “principalities and powers” of this world, as Paul phrased it.  Paul, however, offered a new way of living and a safe place from the material and spiritual ravages of their world.  We too are to be a beacon in the darkness. We too are to be an outpost of the Kingdom of God offering a new life based on a new relationship to be found in the person and work of Christ.

Following in the footsteps of Paul for these two weeks in Greece and Turkey have deeply enriched my faith and ministry, but in an even more significant way, we are all called to follow in the footsteps of Paul.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Crucial Goal of the Christian Life

What are you doing to advance in your knowledge and love of the Lord and to seek the ultimate goal of all Christians, the likeness of Christ?  Dr. Charles Stanley recently wrote, “How you answer this question is important; your spiritual stature and well-being depend on it.”1    If we truly understand God’s intention for the Church, we know that spiritual growth is not an option; it is a mandate and expectation of our Lord.  So, how do we grow in our likeness of Christ? 
Here are four essentials:
1.   Claim and Live into Your Salvation:  The first essential in the journey into Christ-likeness is Salvation.  Salvation gives us the freedom to grow and change.  Jesus in John 3:3-8 tells Nicodemus (and us) that we are to be “born again;” that is, we are to enter into a New Life, a new way of living, based on and propelled forward by a redeeming and life transforming relationship with God.  But Christ is clear…being born again is just the beginning of the journey. 
How about you? Are you Born Again?  If you are, you will know.  If you are not sure, talk to your priest or pastor about gaining that Blessed Assurance of your eternal salvation.  Growing into the image and example of Christ begins with this life-transforming step.
2.   Be Intentional about Your Spiritual Growth:  Another essential to growing in the image of Christ is intentionality.   In your born again relationship with God through Christ, the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in your life.  With the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, expect to be irresistibly compelled to grow in your knowledge and love of God. 
How about you?  If other interests or circumstances are taking priority over God’s call for you to grow in Christ, then simply make an intentional commitment right now to seek Him with all your heart and mind.  Take on the spiritual disciplines that foster and grow you in Christ, and see what the Lord does with your intentionality.

3. Immerse Yourself in Caring, Loving, Sharing Christian Fellowship:  True Christian fellowship is a foretaste of the Communion of Saints in Heaven who God is loving gathering to Himself through time and for  always.  That is why, ultimately, there can be no such thing as a Lone Ranger Christian.  It is in relationship with others that we learn to love unconditionally the way Christ first unconditionally loved us.  We are all called by Christ to move ever more deeply into the fellowship of the saints and be more involved in others lives.   It is in the Church that we can be a blessing to others... be Christ to others.... and in the process we ourselves can be blessed and encounter Christ in others.
How about you?  Are you committed to a Christian fellowship?  Are you invested in the spiritual growth and well-being of others?  Are you seeking to be nurtured in the Faith by other Christians?  Are you dedicated to helping, encouraging, supporting and praying for others?  

4.   Allow God’s Holy Spirit to Lead You from Self-Absorption to Self-Giving:  One final essential for growing in the image of Christ is sacrificially giving yourself for the sake of others.  The Christian journey at its heart is a movement from self-absorption to self-giving.  To model our lives on Christ is to sacrifice and even suffer for others.  Christ says in John 15:13, No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  This sounds like something reserved for the Saints (with a capital S), but to think so would be unbiblical.  We will never approach the sacrificial giving of Christ who gave His life for the sake of the world, but we are all called to grow in giving of our time, talent and resources for the sake of others and to the glory of God. 

How about you?  Are you discernibly on this Christian journey from self-absorption to self-giving?  Are you growing in your likeness of Christ?
Father Rob
1 Dr. Charles Stanley, “The Height of Godliness,” In Touch Magazine, August, 2012.                            




Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Your Invitation to Thanksgiving Dinner

The Church of the Holy Trinity is inviting all in the community who care to join them to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, November 22, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.  You will be Holy Trinity’s special guest, and there is no charge for the dinner.  Space is limited, however, and reservations will need to be made by November 17 by calling 803-341-0075. 

As is especially appropriate for Thanksgiving, Holy Trinity will have an ingathering of non-perishable food items and money for the hungry and for the ministry of Golden Harvest Food Bank.  Those coming to dinner are invited and welcome to participate in this.  Additionally, on the Sunday after Thanksgiving (November 25), at its 10am service, Holy Trinity will be designating its regularly received tithes and offering for that Sunday and all special offerings received to Golden Harvest Food Bank.  An ingathering of canned goods and dry goods for the hungry will take place at that time also.
The Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity is located at the Sweetwater Center (past I-20 across from Advance Auto Parts on Edgefield Road), 160 Merovan Dr. North Augusta, SC 29860. You may call, Google or go to for directions and further information.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Living a Generous Christianity

What good is it, my brothers and sisters,
if you say you have faith but do not have works? (James 2:14)

There are three facets to a healthy, life-transforming Faith: Being, Knowing and Doing.  The first is about being in a saving relationship with God, being In Christ as Paul puts it.  When we come into this saving relationship, submitting ourselves to God in Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are given the first gift to all who believe, the Holy Spirit of God.  And it is by the power of Gods Holy Spirit in us that we are propelled into the other two facets of Christian living, knowing God and doing God's will.

What James is talking about in this scripture is this third aspect of the Christian Faith, doing what God has called us to do; that is, living and working for the Glory to God and teh furthering of His Kingdom.   Without works, in  the end, our faith is of no use to God in growing His Kingdom beyond His radical gift of salvation given us in Christ.  Without doing the work God has given us to do, we settle for being consumers of Gods grace rather than anointed instruments for sharing that grace with the world around us.  Faith without works leads no one to Christ and meets no human needs.  In short, faith without works is a selfish brand of Christianity… it is is lifeless dead, as James says in v.17. 

Scripture elsewhere exhorts us to good works and generous living:
Matthew 5.16: Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Ephesians 2.10: For we are … created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

1 Timothy 6.18: (We) are to be rich in good works, generous, ready to share.

We can define Good Works as the giving of our time and resources to grow the Kingdom of God in this world done out of love and thanksgiving for what Christ has done for us.  It is motivated by something St. Paul talks about in Galatians 5:22, the Spiritual Gift of Generosity. Good Works and sacrificial generosity come from having given ourselves to Christ who first gave Himself for us, and we are thus compelled to give ourselves to each other.  We are generous because God was first generous with us.

The journey toward generosity is at the heart of the Christian Pilgrimage.  It is a  journey from human selfishness and self-absorption toward radical generosity and self-giving.  The ultimate example of this divine attribute of self-giving is Jesus on the Cross.  Christian generosity is counter-cultural in the individualistic and self-absorbed culture in which we live.  This culture exhorts us to be consumers, not givers.  God’s Holy Spirit exhorts us to be just the opposite. Radical generosity is a sign of our relationship with God and an indicator of our spiritual growth, transformation and Christian maturity. One thing that will surprise the non-Christian world when they see it is the Christian spirit of radical generosity and self-giving
What happens when a church family catches this radical Spirit of Generosity?   Lives are touched and changed.  God is glorified.  James is exhorting us toward a generous Christianity, to be doers of the Word, not just hearers... to be givers, not  just consumers   It is God’s deep heart’s desire to make us all like Christ, the ultimate giver.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Purpose of It All

One of the 1st order questions of life is… Why!  What is the purpose and meaning of it all?  Do we exist simply because we do, or is there more to it than that?  Even science and secularism have to wrestle with this question, but it is God who gives the answer.  We call such God-speak “Divine Revelation.”  God has brought about the systematic collection of these Devine Revelations answering this and many other questions in what we know as Holy Scripture.  Hence, on this Sunday, as on all Sundays, we gather to allow God to speak to us about His intention and direction for our lives, and honor Him for it.  Science and human knowledge answer many questions about life, but God answers the big ones.  Are you listening?   ...Fr. Rob

Friday, August 31, 2012

Godly Character

Christ calls us to the development of godly character (ie. Galatians 5:22).  Although this is clearly the work of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives, here are some ways to pull down the obstacles we put up to our spiritual growth and transformation:

·         Be intentional about investing in one’s own spiritual development.

·         Be committed to handing total control of one’s life over to God.

·         Expect submission to God to involve sacrifice.

·         Realize that selflessness is victory rather than loss.

·         Know that spiritual maturity requires a vital connection to a faith community.

·         Seek knowledge of God as a crucial step in the growth process.

(Partial Source: The Barna Group)


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Anglican Comprehensiveness

Anglicanism in some quarters is redefining itself around what is known as Modernist Theology.  Modernist Theology sees truth as relative and considers the Apostolic witness to Truth as revealed in Scripture as potentially outmoded, depending on modern experience and knowledge.   The central feature of the modernist faith is “comprehensiveness” and “inclusiveness,” with theological barriers discounted or removed altogether.  This is very different from orthodox Anglicanism as found in the great majority of worldwide Anglicanism and as believed and expressed here at The Church of the Holy Trinity.

Anglicanism is susceptible to a modernist re-interpretation because of its history of comprehensiveness dating to the Protestant Reformation.  This, however, requires a redefinition of what we know of as true Anglican comprehensiveness.  The Rev. Dr. J.I. Packer and The Rev. Dr. John Stott, along with Mr. CS Lewis, as  Anglicanism’s foremost modern-day theologians have articulated two kinds of comprehensiveness: Principled and Unprincipled Comprehensiveness.  Classic Anglicanism is based on Principled Comprehensiveness, which insists on agreement with the biblical fundamentals of the faith and a continuity with classic English Protestant Reformation thought, while allowing liberty in issues of secondary doctrine, preference and practice. These secondary doctrines, preferences and practices are what Post-Reformation theologian Richard Hooker in forging a “Via Media” between Puritan and Catholic factions in England described as “Adiaphoa,” (Greek meaning “things indifferent”,) by which he meant those things beyond what is attested to in Scripture and is open to choice and preference. 

Modernist Theology has flourished in some quarters of Anglicanism apparently because revisionism has had an easy path in its movement from Principled to Unprincipled Comprehensiveness.
Father Rob

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dear Anglican Bloggers:
Below is a quote that a Lutheran pastor friend of mine posted on Facebook.  It goes to the core of a huge concern I have about contemporary rhetoric between modernist/progressive and orthodox/apostolic factions in both the church and society.  Conversations too often include accusations of hate and lacking compassion.  My thanks to Rick Warren, and to you, Pastor Nathan, for this insight... Fr. Rob

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Shift in Our Nation’s “Worldview”

The Rev. Rob Hartley
This country was founded under a theistic worldview, more specifically a Christian worldview, but is now navigating into her future according to the new dominant worldview, Secular Humanism?  (A worldview can be defined simply as the way we view the world and understand life.)  There is no question that this shift has occurred, and everyone, Christian and secularist alike, understand ourselves to now be a “post-Christian” society. 

What are we to make of this shift?  What are its consequences?  First of all, this without a doubt will effect (is already effecting) the course of our country (for good and for ill), its destiny, prosperity and blessedness.  Granted, the Constitution and its amendments, which are based on Christian principles and ideals, are still in place, but even those are being interpreted from the perspective of a worldview different from that under which these founding documents were created.  It would be foolish not expect a shift in many areas of our common life  like morality, ethics, economics, American religious life, education, the shape and importance of families, and, of course, politics and governance.

A salient question for us, then, is this shift in worldviews and governing ideals good for us as a nation.  The century-old Progressive Movement in our country argues yes.  Christian Conservatism, while embracing many of the positive reforms championed by Progressivism, laments the shift and say no.  Of course, both cannot be right. 

The first step in knowing the answer is to have an understanding of the worldviews themselves.  Here are three dominant features, albeit far from exhaustive, of each worldview:

The Secular Worldview:
·     A trust in ourselves and our intellect for ordering our individual and common life, with no assumption that there is anything transcendent governing our lives.  We are in control.  Morality and ethics are therefore what our experience, societal norms and personal desires call for.

·     All personal religious considerations should be excluded from moral debate, civil affairs and public education.

Therefore, the improvement of our lives and the well-being of our nation can only be by material means (since that is all there is) and through the inherent goodness that is in each of us.

The Christian Worldview
(Sometimes referred to as a Biblical Worldview)
·     Absolute moral truths exist and have their origin beyond ourselves in our sovereign Creator.

·     These truths are communicated by God to us in both natural ways (observing His creation around us) and supernatural ways (divine revelation of Scripture, the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit, and God’s ultimate self-revelation of God, Jesus the Christ).

·     We know all too well of our flawed and fallen human nature, but we also know of God’s love, mercy, grace, providence and desire to redeem us from ourselves and bring us into an unencumbered relationship with Him. 

Therefore, the improvement of our lives and the well-being of our nation can only be through conformance with God’s good and perfect will for our lives individually and as a nation.

What, then, does God expect of His Church, given this unsettling shift in worldviews governing the future of our country? 
·     First, God does not expect handwringing.  Instead, He offers us a peace to be found in our unswerving trust and dependence of Him:  It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.”               Deut. 31:8

·     Secondly, God calls us into a steadfast faithfulness: “Choose this day whom you will serve… as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”    Joshua 24:15

·     Finally, God calls on His Church to boldly and openly stand as a witness to the Truth of the Christian Worldview and to proclaim the Good News of blessing and salvation to be found in Christ alone:  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.                                           1Peter 2:11

The Spiritual Gift of Encouragement

Romans 12:8 speaks of the spiritual Gift of Encouragement (also called the Gift of Exhortation).  The Gift of Encouragement is having a sensitivity and an attraction to those who are discouraged or struggling and involves motivating, encouraging, and consoling others as they move through the issues of this life and mature in their walk with the Lord. 

Barnabas in New Testament Scripture had the Gift of Encorurgaement.  His name actually means ‘Son of Encouragement.  Barnabas was the encourager of none other than St. Paul (Acts 9:27) and  mentor to St. Mark, the eventual author of the Gospel that bears his name.  Look at what God did with Barnabas’ Gift of Encouragement! 

How about you?  Do you have the Gift of Encouragement?  Are you attracted to those who are stuggling and feel called to walk with them through their difficulties?  Do you know how to patiently and gently push people forward through the challenges life presents to them?  

If this describes you, then you are a Barnabas.  If you do not have this gift but would like to, ask the Lord to give you this powerful and wonderful  Gift of Encouragement.                     
Fr. Rob

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Few Words on Incense

From Fr. Dan+
Like many Christian liturgical practices, the use of incense goes back to the Old Testament where it figured regularly in the worship of God. The books of Exodus and Leviticus establish what might be called the “theology of incense” and give details of the use of  incense at the altar.  In Jewish practice a brazier was located  in the tabernacle for the specific purpose of burning incense and incense was offered  in the morning and in the evening.  On the Day of Atonement  the cloud of incense served as a sign of God’s real yet mysterious presence.  In the Book of Revelation incense 1s a sign of the prayers of God’s people ascending to him, which is why the Early Church continued the practice found in Judaism.  Incense still carries all these meanings when used in the church today and has less to do with “high” or “low” church, than with theology that the worship of the Church maintains continuity with that of Israel.

“There is no liturgical practice more firmly rooted in scripture than the use of incense; the image of fire and smoke is a common one in the Bible, constantly reminding the reader of scripture of the exodus of Israel from Egypt”” (Clayton Morris, in As We Gather to Pray, p.142).
The Rev. Dan Brown is a priest at The Church of the Holy Trinity, North Augusta.

Thursday Morning Prayers for Healing / Holy Eucharist

A 10:00 am gathering in the clergy study at Holy Trinity Anglican, 160 Merovan Drive …

Gentle, informal… just a few of God’s people seeking a touch from the Lord in the middle of their busy week.  We read scripture to focus us… we pray for others… we pray for ourselves- body, mind or spirit, wherever our needs lie. Holy Oil…  God’s healing presence… bread and wine… fellowship… peace… thanksgiving… and blessing.  

That is Thursday mornings at Holy Trinity. 
Is God calling you to meet Him there?  Is He calling you to come pray for others who are there?   If so, I'll see you on Thursday

The Gloria, Sanctus and Benedictus

These are three pieces of service music with which we have all become familiar; we use them every Sunday in our worship :

·   The words of the Gloria in Excelsis (Glory in the Highest) came into normal use in the church in the 11th century, but the words and form of this glorious song of praise have their roots in Jewish Temple worship during and before the time of Christ. 

·   The Sanctus is adapted from Isaiah 6:1-3,  In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted...and above him were seraphs...calling to one another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his Glory.” It had been part of Jewish morning worship and became a normal part of the Christian Eucharistic liturgy in about the 4th century. 

·   It has also become the custom of the Church to attach to the end of the Sanctus what is known as the Benedictus (Blessed is He) from John 12:13.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A word about the General Confession and where it is located in the liturgy

Those who worship with us at Holy Trinity, North Augusta have probably noticed that our Sunday liturgies place the General Confession in one of two places.  There is significance to each location:

A.      The Confession placed at the very beginning of the service: (Book of Common Prayer 1979 refers to this as the “Penitential Rite”)   Each Sunday in procession we ceremonially move into God’s presence and are called to worship with Opening Acclamations.  This is followed with the Collect for Purity, acknowledging to God “all hearts are open” and from Him “no secrets are hid.”   We ask God to “cleanse our hearts” so that we can indeed approach Him in true worship.    Part of our cleansing is to confess those things “done and left undone” in our lives over the week; therefore, the General Confession becomes very appropriate at this point.  The Priest pronounces that God does indeed forgive us and considers us cleansed.  We move on joyfully and unencumbered into worship with the singing of the Gloria or another Song of Praise.

B.     The Confession placed after the Readings, Sermon and Prayers of the People:  At this point in the liturgy we have heard God speaking to us in the readings, sermon and prayers.  These things often prepare us for true confession and convict us of those things “done and left undone.”  The General Confession, therefore, also serves us very well at this point in the liturgy.  Furthermore, this immediately precedes our expression of reconciliation with our neighbor in the Passing of the Peace and our expression of union with God in Holy Communion, both for which confession is a key component.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Vision for Vestry Leadership at Holy Trinity?

At our last vestry meeting, this vision was offered for the ministry of the vestry at Holy Trinity:

·         Not just business managers and parish administrators, but spiritual leaders.

·         Focused on letting God shape our church… calling on God … waiting on the Lord.

·         Focused not just on programs and buildings, but on people and growing their relationship, knowledge, obedience and service to the Lord.

o   Calling people to a balanced (Benedictine) spirituality of being, knowing and doing the things of the Kingdom… a balanced and holistic spirituality involving all of life.

o   Promoting God’s purpose for the church (which in the example given by Christ in the Gospels are two things…proclamation and healing [healing being both redemption from the brokenness of this world and transformation into wholeness and holiness]).

·         Fostering an environment in this church family where transformation, health and wholeness can happen.

·         Projecting a parish vision that we are people with a mission and purpose…          

o   That our mission is God’s mission locally and globally and that we exist for that purpose.

o   That we are to be a congregation focused outwardly in both proclamation and service.

o   That our invitation is to “Come and See.”

·         Building on the strengths of this congregation.

·         Delegating ministries and tasks… involving people, raising up new and anointed leaders.

·         Leading by word and example toward sacrificial giving of time, talent and resources for the growing of the Kingdom of God in this place.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Kanuga Renewal Conference: Bishop Mike Hill

This past week a group from Holy Triniity attended  the Renewal Conference at Kanuga Conference Center, Hendersonville, NC.  We learned much from the keynoter, the Rt. Rev. Mike Hill, Bishop of Bristol, England. The worship and music were also a wonderful part of this conference.  Here are some nuggets from Bishop Hills teachings:

The Christian life is predicated on transformation.  Christian growth and transformation involves movement in both wholeness [physical, emotional and spiritual healing] and holiness [sanctification and growth into Christ-likeness)].  Growth is the normal condition for all followers of Christ.

But not all transformation and change is good.  In that light, three questions
What do you desire to become?
What does God desire that you become?
What are you actually becoming?
A problem is that many of us get stuck in this process of Christian transformation.  Life can become hopelessly full of brokenness, dysfunction, sinfulness or inappropriate behavior.  We can get caught up in such things as un-forgiveness, self-absorption, selfishness, just to name three big ones.

(Not knowing what God desires that we become)

To make progress in the spiritual life requires that we know what is right and good from Gods perspective.  Gods Grace is at the center of the Christian Life, but so is Truth.  Without Truth we baptize (declare holy) anything in the name of Gods grace and call it Gods good and perfect will for what He wants us to be or do.

We can find ourselves caught up in what seems like permanent un-forgiveness.  For anyone who is stuck in the past and in un-forgiveness, you know how this can impede spiritual growth.  If we allow it, we can be the permanent victim of trauma, wounded memories, abuse, and broken relationships.  What sanctification (growth) offers is the possibility of becoming victors rather than victims.  Nelson Mandela said, "Un-forgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping that the other person gets sick."  We settle for life as it is rather than life in abundance as God offers it. 

The worlds agenda makes it easy for the devil to dictate what is important to us.  Growth may not even be on your agenda.  Without intentionality toward sanctification spiritual health and wholeness does not happen, nor does the abundant life God promises.  None of us set out to be spiritually mediocre or luke-warm followers of Christ.  We need to have as a goal allowing God to recalibrate our lives such that what is important to God is important to us: corporate worship, study of Scripture, service, being in Christian fellowship and service.

There are more nuggets yet to be mined from our time with Bishop Hill.   Stayed tuned.