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