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
·         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