Thursday, December 26, 2013

The 12 Days of Christmas


    Even as we watch neighbors disassembling Christmas decorations, we know that Christmas is actually a season of the Church Year that is 12 days long.   In the Western Church Christmas begins on Dec 25 with the Feast of the Nativity (the celebration of the birth of Christ) and ends at Jan. 6, the Feast of the Epiphany (celebration of the coming of the Magi), representing the manifestation of Christ to the whole world… “the Light who has come into the world.” 
    If you follow our lectionary of readings and celebrations on a daily basis, you will note that The 12 Days of Christmas are filled with other commemorations that are hugely significant to the life and witness of God’s Church.  On Dec. 26 it is fitting here at the beginning of the Church Year that we celebrate St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Church.  On Dec 27 we commemorate St. John who penned the timeless words, “…the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.”  Dec. 28 is the Feast of the Holy Innocents remembering the children who were slaughtered by Herod, an agent of the dark forces of this world, in a futile attempt by Satan to prevent the “True Light, which enlightens everyone” from coming into the world.  Finally, on Dec. 1 we celebrate the presentation of  Jesus in the temple eight days after His birth, where He is given “the name that is above all names, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and eevy tonguw confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

    So, don’t end your Christmas celebration too quickly…    Fr. Rob

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Christmas Message


The Rev. Rob Hartley

God Has Rewritten Your Future

        This is the season we celebrate the Incarnation of God, the Feast of the Nativity, or Christmas, as the Church has called it through the centuries.  At Christmas we are presented with is a babe in a manger in swaddling clothes who is none other than Almighty God, Creator of the universe, who is choosing to be swaddled in humanity.  St. John the Gospel writer puts it this way, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  This is a truly radical event in human history.  It is the single most significant event for humankind since God spoke into existence this whole wonderful experiment we call Creation. 

          What fascinates me over and over about the Incarnation is that God chose to redirect human history, your future and mine, in this way.  If God had asked my advice, I would have suggested that He fix what is broken in humanity some other way.  What’s with this plan about a  baby in a feeding trough, in a cattle shed, in a small town in a backwater province of the Roman Empire some 2000 years ago!  And more than that, God has this history-altering event dependent on the faithfulness and obedience of a carpenter named Joseph and a teenage peasant girl named Mary.  God has this timeless event witnessed only by a few shepherds in the area who get tipped off about what is going on by a band of celebrating angels, and by three sages from afar!  What was God thinking? 

         How would you have advised God on this?  Perhaps you would ask God to come up with Plan B.  But to bring all creation back in union and harmony with Himself, God has no plan B… no other way….  As Jesus Himself says, “I am the Way…” 

         What fascinates me about God’s Plan (Plan A), the Incarnation, is that it re-writes all of human destiny, re-writes your future and mine, and does it so simply.  With a baby lying in a cattle trough, God provides a way for all of us to find new, eternal and glorious life in union with Him.  God, who is in the miracle business, gives us the greatest miracle of all at Christmas… He gives us Himself, His answer to our problem.

         A final fascination I have with the Incarnation is that God has taken all the initiative.  We do nothing except allow ourselves to be the object of God’s immeasurable love and redemption.  God does all the heavy lifting in terms of bringing about a new future for you and me.  When we need to find our way to Him, God instead comes to us.  How amazing!  Why this baby in a manger? …Because He loves us.  As one of our Christmas carols says, “Love came down at Christmas, love all lovely, love divine.”

         Like the shepherds and the Magi in this remarkable Christmas story, all we have to do is present ourselves before the Christ child.  Are you prepared to present yourself before God this Christmas?  Are you ready for a Christmas miracle to happen in your life?  Have you opened your heart to all this Christmas story makes possible for you?  Make God’s greatest miracle your personal, life-changing miracle.

              Rob+, Christmas, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Prayer of Humble Access

The new ACNA trail liturgy we are using this Advent has returned us who have been accustomed to using the 1982 Book of Common Prayer, Rite II, to a very old and familiar prayer, The Prayer of Humble Access (just before Communion). It is a prayer known by many of us: I have known this prayer by heart since my childhood. 

For some in the contemporary church, the Prayer of Humble Access has fallen out of favor.  We are taught to approach Communion with joy and assurance.  The Prayer of Humble Access, however, reminds us to approach the Lord’s Table in an additional way, with a realistic sense of humility and unworthiness (that is, unworthiness aside from the worthiness that God himself imputes upon us). 

The Prayer of Humble Access echoes Isaiah 6:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple.     5And I said: ‘Woe is me!  I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’  6Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding  a live coal that had  been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.  7The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: ‘Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.’

Can you hear how this same posture of humility and total dependence expressed in Isaiah 6 is expressed in The Prayer of Humble Access. Her is the prayer from the 1662 Anglican Book of Common Prayer):
We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies.  We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table.  But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us.  Amen.
Father Rob

Sunday, November 24, 2013

"Stations of the Nativity" at Holy Trinity this Year...come check it out

Preparing for the Christmas holidays is always a busy and hectic time that distracts us from the Advent/Christmas Season’s true meaning, which is that God Himself has come to us in the Person of Jesus. 

During Advent, our beautiful Stations of the Cross  in  the  nave  will  be  replaced  with reproductions of fine art paintings, along with scripture passages and meditations,  that  narrate  the  story  of  the Incarnation.  You can walk The Stations of the Nativity in Advent similarly to our walking the Stations of the Cross in Lent. These paintings will bring Jesus to us in new and special way this Christmas. 

On Saturday, December 7, at 10:30 am,  you are invited to gather in the nave of the church (160 Merovan Drive, N. Augusta 29860) to participate in The Stations  of the Nativity.  You can also come view these paintings and enter into the Scripture and meditations on your own; just call 803-341-0075 to assure the church is open.

Here are art pieces selected.  Do you know the artist, and can you match the paintings with the events they depict from the Nativity Narratives?














 

Holy Trinity Advent Study: Living Generously

I was blessed by our discussion this past Wednesday evening following our first Living Generously video.   I am thankful to all of you who are coming to wrestle with the Christian virtue of generosity and how our culture, even our very human nature, pushes back against this call of Christ for our lives.   St. Paul  in  Galatians 5  describes generosity as a “Fruit of the Spirit,” for so it is; it is God’s Holy Spirit who enables us to live lives larger than ourselves and sacrificially give our resources for the well-being and benefit of others.  I also very much appreciate Mike, Tom, Twyla, Wayne and Rich for planning and presenting to us this Advent Study.     
                              Fr. Rob

Christ The King Sunday

This is the last Sunday of the Church’s liturgical year, known as Christ the King Sunday.  Since we have worked our way through the various themes of the Church Year, it is fitting that we should end up with this wonderful conclusion and acclamation … Christ is King! 

Note that Christ the King Sunday immediately precedes Advent which is our season to explore the themes surrounding the coming of Christ, both His first coming humbly in a manger in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, and His second coming in power and glory as ruler of all Creation at the Last Day.  On Christ the King Sunday we should ponder our readiness to meet Christ face-to-face at the end of our earthly pilgrimage, as well as  celebrate Christ as “King of kings and Lord of lords.”

                        Fr. Rob

Friday, September 20, 2013

Holy Trinity as a Community of Grace

Grace is the unearned favor of God showered upon us and our lives.  Grace is God dealing with us not on our worthiness or merit, but on our needs, simply because we are the objects of His unconditional   love.  In God’s Church, this is the foundation  upon which the “Kingdom of God” is being built among us and within us.  Holy Trinity, as an outpost of the Kingdom of God, is therefore called to become a “Community of Grace,” dispensing the same God-like grace, compassion, care and unconditional love.

We who are tainted by sin and the ways of this world live according to our fallen human nature rather than as dispensers of God’s grace.  We find that for fallen humanity being a grace-filled community does not come naturally.  It does, however, come supernaturally, thanks be to God!  The gift of being dispensers of God’s grace comes through the inner working of the Spirit of God in us individually and in our community.  It is God who makes us a Community of Grace.  We are the recipient of God’s grace and therefore called to be an instrument through which that grace is extended to others. 

What does being a Community of Grace look like?
·      It is a place of unconditional love where people can be invited in just as they are…

·      A place where sinners can find forgiveness, sanctification and transformation.

·      A place that is a sanctuary for the broken-hearted, the traumatized and the spiritually wounded.

·      A workplace of the Holy Spirit and a crucible for growth and healing.

·      A community from which God’s Truth about life is taught, modeled and shared with the world. 

·      A people learning to be loving and gracious because we were first showered with God’s love and grace.

Fr. Rob+

Recent Prophecies During Sunday Eucharist: What is this all about?

We have been blessed with two “prophecies” in recent Sundays.  The transcript of each prophecy is provided below. 

What are prophecies?  Why has the Lord given them to us?  What are we to do with them?  How do we “test the words of the prophets,” as St. Paul writes?

Here is what the Bible has to say about the spiritual gift of prophecy?
1.   "Make love your aim, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy ... so that the church may be edified" (1 Corinthians 14:1, 5).

2.   The prophetic message is "a word appropriately spoken" (Proverbs 25:11) that originates from God.

3.   Prophecies are "good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear" (Ephesians 4:29).

4.   “… don’t stifle those who have a word from the [Lord, but also] don’t be gullible. Check out everything” (Message, 1 Thess 5:19-21)
(As part of good church order, it is the role of those ordained to church leadership to affirm that a prophecy is indeed a word from the Lord.)

The Bible is clear about the purpose of prophecy:  "He who prophesies speaks to men for their building-up, encouragement and consolation(1 Corinthians 14:3).  It can be God’s words of comfort, assurance, exhortation, admonition or correction for the purpose of revealing God’s presence and inspiring transformation among His people.  A prophecy is a word from God for the particular moment, given through a specific individual, to a specific person or group.

With all this in mind, I invite you to meditate on the prophecies below that God has given us.  What do you hear the Lord saying to you and to this church family
 

Spoken by The Rev. Nancy Kenney, Sunday Eucharist, August 25
I came to give you life.  I came to give you life in abundance.  Come to Me so you can live the life I came to give you.  Let go of the things of the world that hold you, so you can put your hand in mine and I can shower you with blessings.  I came to give you life, life in abundance.

Spoken by Nancy Hartley at Sunday Eucharist, September 1
My Children, do not fear the place of change and transition, what it might mean and the darkness of the unknown.  Do not be afraid.  Do not be anxious.  I am your God.  I am faithful to you. Press into Me. Rest in Me.  You are upheld by my hand. I walk with you.  I will do good for you.  Trust Me
 Father Rob

Blessing of the Animals Oct 5

St. Francis Day Celebration
Blessing of the Animals
Saturday, October 5, 10:30 am
All the Community is invited
Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity
160 Merovan Drive NA 29860
More info:  803-341-0075 or www.anglicanchurchoftheholytrinity.com
All creatures great and small are welcome. We will bless of our beloved pets with certificates commemorating the event for each of the animals.  There will also be music, cookies for the kids, dog biscuits for the dogs and cat treats for the kitties.  Just remember that dogs need to remain on their leashes, cats in their cages and fish in their bowls. Come join us for this fun occasion.  Be sure to invite the dog next door who you are convinced could use a blessing.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Has God Changed His Mind?

In North American Progressive Protestantism, questions are being raised about (1) the origin and authority of Scripture and (2) the Person, Work and Divine Nature of Jesus.  The answers to these questions are central to Apostolic Christianity and the historic Faith, and Progressive Protestantism has come up with new answers.  Let us better phrase these questions and explore Progressive Protestantism's new answers:

1)      Is Scripture God’s revelation of Himself and His good and perfect will for us and all Creation?  If it is, then Scripture, like The Lord Himself, is timeless, changeless, immutable and authoritative ?  If not, then Scripture can be trumped by modern reasoning, human desires and individual experience. The later is the answer that modern Progressive Protestantism, as chaplains and sanctifiers of our current cultural shifts, offers to our society. 
(It is a bit of irony that North American post-Christian society generally does not seek a blessing from the Church or from God.  This raises the question of not only the immutability of Scripture, but the relevance of the modernist progressive Christianity)

2)       Is Jesus indeed God come down to dwell among us to fix what we are incapable of fixing within ourselves?  The classic Christian understanding of what we are incapable of fixing within ourselves is our sinful, fallen human nature and our resulting estrangement from God?  If we indeed know this Truth about ourselves, and we know Jesus is indeed God Incarnate, then Jesus is not just one way to the Father, He is the only Way.  Jesus is God’s uniquely redemptive act in history on behalf of humankind.  If He is not, then we are back on our own dealing  with sin, separation and falling short of the glory of God.  The later is where modern Progressive Protestantism takes us.   
(Again, it is a bit ironic that the modern, post-Christian individual is generally not asking for a savior or seeking reconciliation with God.  To seek union and conformity with something larger that oneself is to deny the autonomy of the individual and the ability for each of us to create our own heaven, hope and eternal future. )
The classic Christian understanding of who Jesus is not an affront to other faith systems or a denial of truth that may be embedded in them, but it is a statement of ultimate (teleological) Truth that we s a Christians joyfully want to share with the world.

I don't want to overstate the problem because I estimate that 90%+ of contemporary Christianity continues to be firmly based in the Apostolic Witness, but my experience among my Progressive Protestant friends is that they are often not aware that a doctrinal shift has taken place. Those who are aware understand it to be a matter of enlightenment and spiritual progress.   Christianity by its nature is based on God's revelation of Himself and of the Truth about us and Creation.   Has God changed His mind about any of this?  What I think has changed are modernist Christian minds that are moving away from a theocentric faith toward a homocentric Spirituality.  Thank God we have the choice not to go down that rabbit trail.
Father Rob

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Sanctus

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.” (Isaiah 6:1-3)   Does this sound familiar?  We sing this every Sunday and know it as the Sanctus.  It reminds us of our eternal place in the throne room of God, with all the saints and angels of heaven, singing praises to the Lord Almighty… forever.

Marking yourself with the Sign of the Cross

Tracing the sign of the cross on oneself (forehead-to-abdomen, shoulder-to-shoulder) is a great and ancient practice.  Generally it is done when you are receiving a blessing.  For instance, we cross ourselves at a number of places in our Eucharistic liturgy:

·         At the Opening Acclamations as we are blessed to be entering the presence of our Lord in
worship.
 
·         At the pronouncement of the absolution of our sins following the Confession.

 
·         During the Nicene Creed when we proclaim that we are counted among those who look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.”
 
 
·         At the name of the Trinity when used as an invocation by the preacher.
 

·         At “Blessed is he” during the Benedictus Qui Venit as an acknowledgement that we are indeed blessed by “He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

·         As we are approached with the bread and wine at the altar rail and after having received the Blessed Sacrament.

Of course, this is a totally optional liturgical gesture, and the list above in not exhaustive.  One can cross oneself anytime and anywhere one feels he or she is receiving a blessing from God, whether in the liturgy or not.  A good example is when giving a blessing at a meal. 
 
One of my favorite times to cross myself is during my prayers first thing in the morning.  It is for me a sign of God’s blessing and protection upon my day, but it is also a mark upon my body that I indeed belong to the Lord, lest the devil forget.                                                        Father Rob

The Nicene Creed

The word "Creed” is from the Latin word "Credo" which means, "I believe."   The Nicene Creed that we recite every Sunday was formulated approximately 300 years after the death of Christ to provide a statement of orthodox, apostolic belief.  It is based on the Scripture and the eye-witness of the Apostles to what God did and revealed in Christ.  The Nicene Creed was formulated by the Church Fathers to protect the Church against innovations and deviations from the “Faith once deposited” with the Apostles.  This Creed has been recited by Christians ever since.  Another similar Creed used by the Church is known as the Apostles’ Creed and is used at Baptisms and the Daily Office.  These creeds express the fundamental core of what we, the Church, believe.                  Fr. Rob

You know you are a Christian when…


You know you are a Christian when…
you are close to God, and Jesus is the reason.        Heb. 10:19-23
you have joy and peace and the only explanation is that you know God.   Eph. 2:13
you are delighted at being submitted                Phil. 2:10-11
you want to know and you want to grow.                Colossians 1:10
you are astounded at the ways the Holy Spirit is forming you into the likeness of Christ.  Rom. 8:29
you are zealous about sharing the Good News of what God has done for you        Matt 18:19

Friday, August 23, 2013

Why Do We Have the Bible That We Have?

The Bible came about through the discernment in the early centuries of the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Much was written and recorded about Jesus in the early church during this time, and it had to be determined which writings were accurate and inspired by God for the building up and guidance of His Church.  The decision to include a particular book in the canon of New Testament Scripture largely hinged on whether a writing was considered of “apostolic origin” or not.

“Apostolic origin” was important because the apostles were the actual eye witnesses to the life, death and resurrection of Christ.   The Apostles knew Jesus well.  They were with him.  They participated in his ministry.  They sat at Jesus’ feet and learned from him.  Most importantly, however, they witnessed the events of Holy Week and Easter.  The Apostles and the first century communities that formed around them through the prompting and inspiration of the Holy Spirit went on to write down their experience of Jesus.  These writings were written down, or “codified,” into what we know today as the New Testament Canon of Scripture.

The church generally used three criteria for finally deciding if a book should be included in the Canon of Scripture:

1.      That it was written by an Apostle or by the community that immediately formed around an Apostle.

2.      That it had been circulated among the apostolic churches in the Mediterranean basin and was widely, if not universally, accepted.

3.      That the writing was consistent with the larger body of writings accepted in the church.

By about 140 AD, the four Gospels and most of the Pauline Epistles were accepted by the broader Church.  By the end of the 2nd Century, the accepted books also included 1 Peter, 1 John, Jude and Revelation.  Books still being questioned by the Church, primarily based on the possibly of non-apostolic origins, were Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Shepherd of Hermas and the Revelation of Peter.  Five of these seven books were eventually accepted, giving us our present day New Testament.

Family Promise: Ministry to Homeless Families

Our plans to participate in Family Promise of Augusta’s ministry to homeless families with children is rapidly taking shape, thanks to a committee of dedicated folks who met July 25 to solidify plans.  Wednesday evening, September 4 following our usual fellowship supper, the program will be on this amazing ministry and on how any and all of us can be involved in making life better for these three families.  Watch for the display in the parish hall which will give you the opportunity to sign up to help in whatever way you are being called.

Family Promise of Augusta partners with churches such as ours to help homeless families achieve lasting independence.  They do this by providing safe shelter, meals, day care, job search assistance, permanent

housing assistance and other support services for these families.  This is a holistic approach to a complex problem, and it is amazingly effective at helping families caught in poverty and homelessness.  God has called us to be a part of this.

Where are the Children? (By Lora Lamberth)

I had the privilege of attending an online webinar talking about the reason we are losing our kids in church. Did you know that 40% of our youth drop out of church by the 6th grade?  70 -80% drop out by the end of High school!  Interesting statistics contained in the webinar as quoted from George McDowell’s book The Last Christian Generation (a very good read I would highly recommend) suggested that there are many reasons kids drop out of church and how we can help prevent this from happening.

1.      Parents are the key as well as church leaders and members. It is our responsibility to make church a priority and to be authentic in our lives as Christians. Children judge by actions more than words.

2.   We are not the world! It is important to live a life of sanctification and show the difference between light/dark.  We need to model/teach/reinforce Biblical morals and principles inside and outside of church.

3.   We aren’t preparing them for battle. As a church family we need to stand in the gap for our youth until they can stand on their own. We need to teach them how to put on the full armor of God and how to resist the enemy- leading by example.

4.    As a church family it is our right and responsibility to mentor our youth. Our youth need one-on-one disciplining and mentoring. We need to teach them how to defend their faith and how to become disciples.

5.   Lack of prayer – spiritual battles are best fought on our knees. We need to fight for our youth.

6.   Have expectations and hold our youth accountable. Encourage and support them – love them through the hard times – pray with them – reach out to them – be an example and a guiding force in their lives.

I am so proud of all our youth and how they are growing and bonding. I am so thankful that our church family stands in the gap for our youth and models a right and true relationship with our Heavenly Father. Our youth are so blessed to be a part of a church that is mission minded and disciple driven.

Please prayerfully consider becoming a mentor working one-on-one with one of our youth. I promise you both will be blessed.

God bless,
Lora Lamberth

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Being "In Christ"


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come;
The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)
 
This phrase in Christ is regularly used by St Paul to describe the salvific relationship with our Lord that is more than just knowing Him or serving Him.  To speak of being “in Christ” is to speak of who we are and whose we are.  It is to speak of our very identity “in Christ,” not only in this life, but forever.   
 

You may not know your identity “in Christ,” and consequently live without direction, purpose or power for victorious living over the forces of this world.  God through Christ has made a promise to equip you with these things.

If you want to acquire the promises of a life “in Christ,” drop by the clergy study and let’s talk about it.
                                         Fr. Rob

Friday, July 19, 2013

Depression Workshop


Workshop
Depression
Hope for the Hurting
The church’s crucial role in the healing of the depressed.
 
Thursday evening, August 1, 2013, 7:00 to 8:00 pm
Feel free to contact us for further information or directions.
 

 Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity
(803) 341-0075    
RobHartley@comcast.net   www.Anglicanchurchoftheholytrinty.com      
 Sweetwater Center, 160 Merovan Dr, North Augusta, SC 29860

There is no quick fix for depression. We can’t just tell those suffering among us to snap out of it and expect the pain to go away.  As God’s church, however, we can surround our brothers and sisters suffering from depression and be a source of strength, faith and hope when they are unable to attain to these things for themselves. We can help by combating the lies of distorted self-perception and affirming those truths most essential to an identity to be found in God who created them.
 Depression is not a journey to be taken alone.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A chance for Holy Trinity to make a lasting differencet among homeless families in our area

Family Promise of Augusta 

In May, Sarah McDonald came to Holy Trinity to tell us about Family Promise of Augusta.  She invited us to partner with them and with 30 or so other churches in the area to address family homelessness in the CSRA.  Family Promise of Augusta is committed to helping homeless families achieve lasting independence. They do this by providing safe shelter, meals, day care and support services for these families. They also partner with other programs designed to redress the underlying economic, social and behavioral causes of homelessness. 
 
The response from within the parish to become involved in this endeavor was uplifting.  A ministry group has come together headed by JoEllen Barbare to lead us into being a part of this community ministry.  Our first involvement is going to come on the Week of September 22.  Contact JoEllen about the details, and be praying about how the Lord is asking you to be involved.

There are no quick answers to the problem of homelessness for the families that are in this program.  It requires a two-pronged commitment involving the families as well as us who want to come alongside them in their journey to wholeness and independence. Family Promise offers a real opportunity in that it is a holistic approach. They are a national organization with a good track record in leading families toward stability and productivity. They focus on where the need is critical, and that is with families with children.  The goal is to break the cycle of poverty and dependency that very much plagues our society.  And for us, it gives us a chance at first-hand involvement in people's lives- people whose needs are great and whose situations to them are apparently hopeless.  Nothing is too hard for God.

Father Rob

A love offering for Bishop Abraham and the People of South Sudan

Dear Family and Friends of Holy Trinity:

This Wednesday evening (tomorrow, July 3) we will receive into our midst The Rt. Rev. Abraham Yel Nhial of the Church of South Sudan.  I have read his book and know something of the story he is going to share with us.  The Lord has sustained him and his people through some horrific circumstances, and he has a deep passion for his people and for wanting them to know they are not forsaken by the God who loves them and suffers with them.  He also wants to be sure that they are not forgotten by the rest of the Church or by the world.  I am humbled to have such a servant of the Lord among us. 

We will be taking up a love offering tomorrow night for the people of South Sudan and for Bishop Abraham’s ministry among them.  Prayerfully consider participating in this offering.  You can make your check out to Holy Trinity marked “Sudan” such that it will be listed as part of your tithes and offerings in the church books.

Let me mention that “coincidentally” meeting Bishop Abraham several months ago during our vestry retreat at Camp St. Christopher is clearly part of a new leading of the Lord for us this year.  The Lord planted this church family over four years ago. He has grown and prospered us.  He has taught us about “Being” the Body of Christ, about “Knowing” the mind of Christ, and now He is pointing us more resolutely toward “Doing” the work of Christ (The “Being, Knowing and Doing” of the Christian life).  Your leadership has sought to be as attentive as it could be to the Lord's leading.  The result has been our taking on two new outreach ministries, one a local (Family Promise of North Augusta), one global (The Work of the Anglican Church in the Horn of Africa). 

Do not miss Bishop Abraham’s presentation to us Wednesday evening (6:00 pm, supper provided).  I think this will be a watershed time for us as God speaks to us through this bishop of our church.
Father Rob

 

Your Children's and Grandchildren’s Spiritual Heritage

I am writing this article while on vacation at Kanuga, a church Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC.  In many ways I spiritually grew up in this place, and I continue to encounter God on each return visit.  I return year after year seeking his face, the touch of His hand and the sound of His voice.  I seem to always find it.  As I have shared with many of you at Holy Trinity, there is a particular place on the trail on the far side of the lake that I consider, as the Celtic Christians say, my Thin Place; that is, it is that place for me where the fabric between heaven and earth is drawn so thinly that it seems I can almost reach through and touch the face of God.  What happens instead, however, God always reaches through and touches me first.

This year among all the years has a special significance.  My son, his wonderful wife and my two extraordinarily perfect grandsons (a grandfather’s perspective) are here with Nancy and me this year.  It is a special time because I was coming here with my parents when I was my three-year-old grandson’s age.  Nancy and I summer after summer brought our children here. Now our son is bringing his children here.  This week at Kanuga thus represents four generations of Hartley’s who have been blessed by this place.  Kanuga in that sense has become part of my family’s spiritual inheritance. 

As I was walking to my Thin Place before Eucharist yesterday morning, it came to me how extraordinarily important it is that we indeed pass on to our children and grandchildren their spiritual inheritance.  I am not just talking about a spiritually significant place like this place; I am talking about something much more important.  I am talking about handing down the Faith to the next generations- telling them that Old, Old Story, introducing them to Jesus, witnessing to the blessings of the Christian life. This is their true spiritual inheritance.   Perhaps as you are reading this you are thinking that your spiritual heritage got short-circuited somewhere along the way, or never existed in your family to begin with, but it is not too late for you to make your Faith your children’s and grandchildren’s inheritance.                                                                  Father Rob