Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Spiritual Gifts

On the Third Sunday after the Epiphany (Jan 20 this year) we read from Luke’s Gospel about the Wedding at Cana of Galilee.  This is a story about Jesus taking water and changing it into wine.   It is a story of God

taking something natural and doing something supernatural with it, taking something ordinary and making it extraordinary.  The lectionary writers interestingly pair this story with Paul’s discourse on Spiritual Gifts from 1 Corinthians 12. 

The thread connecting the two readings becomes obvious: Jesus takes what is ordinary and natural in our lives, such as our natural talents and abilities, and supernaturally makes them extraordinarily useful to Him and for the furthering of His Kingdom.  Such is the nature of the Gifts of the Spirit, This is how we can understand the way God equips us to do the ministry to which He calls us. 

Our relatively young church family has grown because this dynamic of God gifting people to do the ministry they are called to do.  People have caught hold of what the Lord is doing in this place, discerned how the Lord is calling them to be a part it, and allowed God to empower them with the Spiritual Gifts needed to live into the calling.

This relates wonderfully to what we are learning on Wednesday nights.  “Experiencing God” study series is teaching us to look for where God is working, listen for His invitation to work with Him, and then allow God to work through us in the accomplishing of His purposes.  Wednesday nights are also teaching us that, when God calls us to do for others or be something to others, the calling has what Henry Blackaby calls “a God-size dimension.”  The calling, the task, the ministry, whatever it is, is something we cannot do, as God intends for it to be done, without Him gifting us with the ability to do it.  We are totally dependent on God for the ability to do what He Has called us to do. 

This gifting for ministry has its source in our ongoing and intimate relationship with God’s through His indwelling Holy Spirit.  Again, Blackerby in “Experiencing God” makes the very wonderful point that the real gift is the gift of the Holy Spirit who takes up residence in us and works in the world through us.

So then, what do we do?  Again turning to our Wednesday night study, Blackerby tells us that we are to open ourselves to the possibility of God working in us and through us for the sake of the world around us.  We are to invite God to “gift” us with the ability to live into His purpose and calling for our lives. 

A prayer for you…. Come, O Lord, and fill us your servant to overflowing with your Holy Spirit.  Grant the spiritual gifts and empowerment for the ministry to which you have called us.  Equip us to take our place in the Body of Christ to which you have placed us. May to you be the glory.  May your Kingdom grow firmly in us.  May your Kingdom grow in the world through us.  In Jesus’ Name we pray.  Amen.

Fr. Rob

Lenten Mite Boxes

This Lent the Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity will be distributing “Mite Boxes” (referring to the widow’s mite in Mark 12:41-44) to the children, teens and all adults who would like to participate.  A Mite Box is a small box with a slit in the top for inserting coins, bills or checks.  You are invited to give up something for Lent (lattes at Starbucks, deserts at lunch, etc.) and instead put the money you may have spent in your Mite Box.  We will offer up our Mite Boxes at the altar on Easter Sunday, and the money will be given to The Anglican Relief and Development Fund as part of our yearly commitment to their worldwide ministry.                                              Fr. Rob+


Lent: Preparing for Easter

Lent- A Season of Special Devotion & Discipline
The season of the Church year that we know as Lent begins with Ash Wednesday (this year on February 13) and ends for many Christians traditions with an evening celebration known as the  Great Vigil of Easter, which takes place on the eve of Easter Sunday (Saturday, March 30 this year).  Lent was the one of the first seasons of the Church Year to be observed by the early Christians.  It is a season of penitence, fasting, devotion and discipline in preparation for the Day of the Resurrection of Our Lord (Easter). 

These 40 days were also used by the early Church as a time of final preparation of those wishing to be baptized into the Faith.  It was traditional for baptisms in the 1st Century Church to take place at the Great Vigil of Easter on Easter Eve.  Those who were being baptized would take their first Communion with their new church family on this first celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection. 

As us modern Christians did not invent back-sliding, Lent was also a time for the restoration of those who had “departed from the faith,” and a time of renewal and recommitment for all the Faithful.

You may notice that there are more than 40 days in Lent (February 13 to March 30).  Sundays are not counted among the “penitential” days of Lent.  Sundays are “Little Easters,” and therefore every Sunday is considered an Easter celebration and not a day of penitence and fasting. 

Why did the first Christians decide on 40 days?  Forty is a biblical number symbolizing a span of time sufficient to accomplish what needs to be accomplished.  For instance, Jesus’ own preparation for ministry was by a “fast” of 40 days in the Judean wilderness.  I am sure that you can think of other biblical references to a span of time represented by the number 40.

Ash Wednesday (February 13) sets the tone for the Lenten Season.  At many traditional Ash Wednesday liturgies, ashes are placed on the forehead of each person with the words, “Remember, O Mortal, you are but dust; and to dust you shall return.”  This is intended to lead us to consider our weakness and mortality and to ponder the meaning of life as well as the meaning of death.  It is not intended to be morbid, only realistic.  On Ash Wednesday, we reflect on our utter dependence on God’s saving grace that has come to us through Christ.  We contemplate our need for what God has done for us on Easter 40 days hence.