Monday, December 1, 2014

Seminar- Faith in the Age of Science

      Seminar (Free)
   Faith in the Age of Science
The relationship of Christianity to Science

And God said

∇∙E=ρ/ϵ_0

∇∙B=0
∇×E=-∂B/∂t
∇×B=μ_0 (J+ϵ_0  ∂E/∂t)
and there was light.
(Maxwell's Equations describing electro - magnetic phenomena (including visible light)


Thursday, Decemebr 4, 7:00 PM
Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity
160 Merovan Drive, North Augusta, SC 29860
(Adjacent to Walmart near I-20 Exit 5)
803-341-0075
Blog: North Augusta Anglican (http://holytrinityna.blogspot.com)


Friday, November 7, 2014

A Sunday Afternoon Conversation on Being a New Testament Church

Sunday afternoon, November 9 from 4:00 to 5:30 PM, we are gathering at the Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity, North Augusta
for conversation on the topics below.  All are welcome- newcomers to the Faith, old-timers and those who are not yet part of any church family.  In a very introductory fashion we will discuss:


     Our vision for being a New Testament Church

The heart of the Gospel and how it shapes this church family, Holy Trinity.

The Christian worldview as we understand it here at Holy Trinity.

 Nominal Christianity versus Transformational Christianity- God wanting to make us a New Creation.

Growing the reign of God in the world, beginning with growing the reign of God within us.

Anglican ethos- Anglicanism as one tradition among many great traditions within God’s Holy Church.

 Liturgical and Sacramental worship- Why we worship as we do at Holy Trinity.

Our mission- to participate God’s Mission (Missio Dei) which is to reconcile all people to Himself.

Your questions, concerns and passions.
Father Rob

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Being the Church for the Sake of Others

Earlier this year I attended a seminar at which Bishop Todd Hunter was one of the speakers.  I was struck by a simple two-part truth he laid down for us- He said we most effectively grow God's Kingdom here on Earth when we are both (1) differentiated from the culture, and (2) committed to the culture: 

        Differentiated from the culture by being a community centered on the uniqueness of Christ (God incarnate) and work of Christ (His Cross and Resurrection). 

Committed to the culture by being ambassadors of Christ for the sake of the world.  In the great economy of the Kingdom of God, we live the Faith for the sake of others.

                                                   Father Rob

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Four Crucial Goals of the Christian Life

I once read in Dr. Charles Stanley’s In Touch magazine his listing of four essentials for finding New Life in Christ.  It is well-worth sharing here:

1.     Claim your salvation and live into it:  God’s unconditional love and un-deserved redemption, simply stated, gives you the spiritual and emotional freedom to grow, change and to be transformed by the power of God in your life. 

2.  Be Intentional about your spiritual growth and your relationship with God: Growing in the image of Christ involves intentionality.  In your New Life (Born Again life, to use Jesus’ words) relationship with God through Christ, the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in you.  With His power and presence, you can seek God’s face daily and grow in your knowledge and love of the Lord. 

3.   Immerse yourself in a caring, loving, sharing Christian fellowship: True Christian fellowship is a foretaste of the Communion of Saints gathered in Heaven from throughout time and for always.  It is in relationship with others that you learn to unconditionally love the way Christ unconditionally loves you.  You are called by Christ to move ever more deeply into being involved in other people’s lives.   It is in the Church that you can be a blessing to others, and in the process yourself can be blessed by others.

4.    Allow God’s Holy Spirit to lead you from self-absorption to self-giving: At its heart the Christian journey is a movement from self-absorption to self-giving.  To be like Christ is to sacrifice, even suffer, for others.  Jesus 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. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Christian Response to Homsexulaity-

In today’s culture, we see people responding to open and active homosexuality on a wide gamut from affirming acceptance to gay bashing.  The former comes out of an “enlightened” modernistic creed of individualism and lack of transcendent authority concerning human sexuality: the latter stems from a fallen human instinct to abhor and reject what is different.  Neither response is Christian. 

The Christian response is wisdom, grace and unconditional love.  Paul writes in Colossians 4:5-6, "Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.  6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person."  In the face of active and open homosexuality, the Christian response is God’s kind of love- the same Agape love Jesus had for the Samaritan woman at the well even while she was still in her aberrant lifestyle, or Nicodemus even in his confusion about Kingdom Truth, or beloved Matthew even while he was still deep in his sin as a tax collector and extorter. 
 
We in the Church should allow the love of Christ to flow through us such that gays turn to Him and not away from Him.  We should also be aware that many who find themselves with same-sex attractions do in fact live quiet lives under Biblical principles in celibacy and great commitment and devotion to our Lord.  May these brothers and sisters find their church family supportive, encouraging and loving.           

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Great Cosmic Drama

The German theologian Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) described worship as a great cosmic drama.  In the Eucharist, which has been the central act of worship for the Christian community from the very beginning of the Church, God is author and director of the drama.  God has written us a script in two acts; we call the two acts the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Table.  God invites us not to be the audience, but to be the participants, the actors, in this great drama.  It is we who are invited to take our place at the Table as a foreshadowing of the Great Banquet Feast of the Lamb and our place at the Lord's Table forever.

Here at the Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity, Holy Eucharist is the most important thing we do together as a church family.  The Eucharist is a gift from God and the clearest and strongest way of telling that "old, old story."  It is the greatest story ever told, a story of cosmic proportions.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Eucharistic Lectionary

Every Lord’s Day at our Eucharistic celebration we have Readings, or Lessons, from the Old Testament, Psalms, Epistles and Gospels which are selected according to a calendar of readings known as a Lectionary. Using a lectionary helps ensure that we have a wide range of the Bible read to us (The whole council of Scripture).  It also joins us with many other Christians in many other traditions who use the same lectionary (The Revised Standard Lectionary) and hear the same scripture read on that day.
 
Some, however, feel that lectionaries limit the preacher in listening to the Holy Spirit and selecting the text upon which to preach.  I invite your thoughts.

 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Building a New House

With catechisms and bishop visits behind me, I had a chance to reflect on some books I have been reading.  Mary Patterson gave me a copy of a book she herself was reading1.  Given the strong emphasis on Bible study in this church, this book reminded me that Biblical knowledge is not an end in itself, but as St. Paul tells us in Romans 6:12, we are to be…  transformed by the renewal of [our] mind, that [we] may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  In other words, our study is not just to make us smarter, it is to make us different.

Recently I had lunch with the new Lutheran pastor in town.  I noted one particular book he was reading titled Simple Church.  I promptly called up the book on my Kindle when I returned to the church.  Again, the book talked about the Christian life as transformation, a process of coming more and more to “love God, love others and serve the world.”2 

Transformation is what God desires. He offers to make us a new creation.  Here is a metaphor about being transformed by our relationship with Christ.  It is like building ourselves a new house to live in…

First, we build a Firm Foundation:
§  A personal and intimate relationship with God
§  Learning to simply “be” in Christ.
       Here are some ways we are doing this here at Holy Trinity:        
§  Sunday worship.
§  Our private prayer life.

Next, we build on our Firm Foundation:
§  Growing in our knowledge and love of the Lord.
§  Immersing ourselves in the family of God.
§  Learning what it means to follow and obey.
§  Learning what it means to really love others.
§  Progressively becoming like Christ.
        Here are some ways we are doing that here at Holy Trinity:       
§  Sunday worship.
§  Tuesday women’s group.
§  Wednesday fellowship and study.
§  Saturday men’s group.

Then, little by little, we move into our new home:
§  Maturing in the Faith
§  “Being, Knowing and Doing” the things of the Christian life.
§  Taking on the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23): Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness,   Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control.
§  Actively loving God, loving others, and serving the world.
§  Sharing in word and deed the Good News of Christ.

1Milfred Minatrea, Shaped by God’s Heart, John Wiley and Sons, 2004.
2Thomas Rainer, Eric Geiger, Simple Church, B&H Publishing, 2003

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Liturgical Worship

Sunday Worship is the most important thing we do together as a church family.  It is God’s desire (actually His 4th Commandment) that we keep holy the Sabbath and honor Him in worship.  Lord’s Day worship is not an option for our personal contact with the Lord and our corporate obedience as a church family.  
                                 
As the Ancient-Future Movement in the Church highlights, and as the late Robert E. Webber articulates in his many books, Anglican worship (liturgical worship in general) has both an ancient and a future dimension.  Our ancient liturgy connects us with the saints who have gone before us, and liturgy places us in continuity everywhere and throughout time with the universal church and the historic apostolic faith.  The liturgy also has a future dimension in that it propels us forward into the future that God has for us.  Our worship lifts us heavenward and becomes for us a dress rehearsal for that time when all the saints will gather around the Lord’s Banquet Table forever.                                   Father Rob

 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Expectations

The late Rev. Terry Fullam, the once Rector of St. Paul’s Church, Derien, Ct, upon first coming to that parish, expressed his overarching expectation for that congregation.  His expectation was that they will find themselves opening up more and more to the Holy Spirit, in which case they will find themselves growing and expanding in their relationship with God. 

As the Rector of Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity, I would like to claim Terry’s expectation as my own for this parish; that is, that they will be continually growing and expanding their relationship with God.   As their priest, they have expectations of me, one of which I hope is that I will assist them in living into this expectation I have of them.

Within the context of a church family, this expectation of an ever-expanding relationship with God has four growing edges-
1)      A growing intimacy with God in worship.

2)     A growing knowledge of God through study of the Scripture and the exploration of the things of the Kingdom.

3)      Growing in service to the Lord and in being Christ to the world around us.

4)     And a growing obedience to Christ in the Great Commission by introducing others to Christ and bringing others into the fellowship of God’s family.

It is very appropriate for them to expect much of me as their Rector, but God has called me to also expect much of them.   

Father Rob

Sunday, September 14, 2014

More Catechesis, Please


The Rev. Dr. J.I Packer who is with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is one of the leading evangelical theologians of our time.  He was also the chief editor in the production of the English Standard Verson (ESV) of the Bible. The following is extracted from a "Living Church Magazine" article on J.I. Packer by William Murchison, February 7, 2010.  

Dr. Packer said at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Dallas on Jan. 9, 2010 that he yearns for the return of catechesis, “Bible-based, Christ-centered, declarative in style,” at a time when “the Christian value system is virtually disappearing from schools.”  “We are drifting back into paganism…”

“Ongoing learning is part of the calling of the Church,” he said. “It has to be taught in all churches at all times…”  He called it “ridiculous to think that no more learning of the Faith is necessary after confirmation has taken place.”  Recovering the traditional emphasis on careful, lifelong instruction in Christian faith “will be totally uphill all the way,” he said. “We shall be challenging the dominant trends in our culture, and it won’t be easy…”

“Teaching the catechism should be a regular, continuing project for churches,” Dr. Packer said.  “Crucial topics include the authorship of Scripture; the reality of God’s being; the holiness of God’s law; the centrality of Jesus Christ; the graciousness of salvation; the power of the Holy Spirit; and the praiseworthiness of God.”

Dr. Packer urged Christians, “Pray for your clergy, stand behind them as they seek to adjust congregational patterns to the need for intensive grounding in the Christian essentials. Every parish priest should be — among other things— a catechist.”

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Relational Evangelism


As active Christians, the Lord is going to give us people to come alongside in life and with whom to be a friend.  We are called to serve those persons by discovering their needs in the context of that friendship and meeting those needs as the Lord directs us.  Of course the greatest need any non-Christian has is not going to be met through friendship with us, but through friendship with God.  Relational Evangelism is therefore making a friend, being a friend, and bringing your friend to Christ (this will sound familiar to all those who have been involved in a Cursillo 3-Day Weekend.).  

What we often settle for in meeting Jesus’ mandate to “go into the world and make disciples” (Matthew 28) is Passive Evangelism.  Displaying a church sign or running a church website are forms of Passive Evangelism.  This blog is Passive Evangelism.  These are useful, but relationships, personal witness and personal invitations to “Come and See” are how The Lord redeems lives and grows His church.  This is particularly true in our culture where we seem to be a people in search of meaningful and lasting relationships. 

Do you have a person in your life with whom you can develop a relationship, discover their needs, lovingly work to meet those needs, and assure that their biggest need is met, a relationship with the Living God?


 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Giving others the opportunity to know Christ

When sharing with a friend about the Good News of your redemption, healing and new life in Christ, it is perhaps helpful to remember that the final impact on their lives isn't up to you—you are simply communicating what you know and have experienced, and the choice you have made for your life.  We each have to respond the Holy Spirit’s nudge toward Christ on our own.   No one can make that decision for us.  Of course, we still have an obligation to participate in giving others the opportunity to decide... Rom 10:14, "How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?"  (Source: Focus on the Family)

We literally bet our lives on having the right worldview


 

We all have a worldview which is our way of understanding life- why we are here, our purpose on this planet, where we are ultimately headed.  We derive our very identity from our worldview.  We use our resources and expend our very lives according to what we believe.  This is a serious thing to consider in that we are given only one life to live.   Rick Warren said that we literally bet our lives on having the right worldview.  Ask these questions of yourself:  What worldview drives your life?  From what or from whom are you deriving your identity?  What lifestyle are you living and what purpose in life are you expending your life upon?  Is it noble, lofty and worthy enough for the one precious life you have been given?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Victorious Living

In Henry Blackerby’s book Experiencing God, he asked the question, “How do you describe your relationship with God?” He gives us a list of possible answers to ponder: Non-existent? Plateaued? In decline? Confused? Exciting? Growing? Transformative? (Fruit of the Spirit-Galatians 5) Victorious? (victorious over the world, flesh and the devil.
 
Unless the enemy has you totally deceived, you are going to desire the latter answers on this list.   A fundamental fact about a relationship with God that is transformative and victorious living is a function of our yielded-ness to God’s Holy Spirit at work in us.  This is true for all stages of conversion, sanctification and perfection through which the Spirit leads us.  Consider these stages of the Christian Pilgrimage:
o    God through His Holy Spirit call us to Himself through the people and circumstances in our lives.
o    The Holy Spirit convicts us of our rebellion and sin and leads us to repentance and forgiveness.
o    The Holy Spirit quickens in us that Blessed Assurance of new and eternal life with the Father.
o    God's Holy Spirit begins to build in us an intimate relationship with the Father.
o    The Holy Spirit begins to reveal His good and perfect will for our lives.
o    The Holy Spirit steadily changes us and we are sanctified for His purposes and for holy living.
o    God imparts to us "Gifts of the Spirit" for building up the Body of Christ and doing ministry in His name.
o    We know ourselves to be changed and the Fruit of the Spirit (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) begins to characterize our lives (Gal 5).
o    We are victorious over the world, the flesh and the devil- Christlikeness and union with God are ours forever. 
 
The question thus becomes- At whatever stage of your life that you find yourself, are you yielded to the Holy Spirit at work in you?  Ask God to fill you to overflowing with His Spirit and lead you out of the muck and mire of this life and into the Victorious Life He has promised to all of us who turn to Him.

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Vision for Youth Ministry at Holy Trinity

Building up the youth and young adult ministries in our parish family is a stated priority for us.  The Lord has given us what we need to do this, such as strong, committed youth leadership in the ministries of Laura, Amber and Mark.  He has also given us a wonderful facility in which to do youth ministry.  The vestry is considering renovating some of our unused space for a teen room.  The vision is to create space the teens can consider their own and where they can invite friends to joins them in their church.  The room will allow us to grow the youth ministry to several dozen teenagers over the next few years.

A vision for youth ministry at Holy Trinity is articulated well in Steven Gerber’s book, The Fabric of Faithfulness.  You can find several copies in our library.  Youth ministry should give young people a place to explore both life and Faith.  It should introduce  them  to  what we know as  the  “Christian Worldview” (Christian understanding of Life and its meaning) for which our culture is offering very sobering alternatives.  Since a worldview is the foundation for living, we should support our young people in finding a Christ-centered way of life and in claiming the Christian worldview as their own. 
 
 Additionally, youth ministry should answer questions such as…
         What does it mean to be made in the image of God?
        What do I believe about the world? Why do I believe it?
        How do I understand my place in the world?
        How do I connect what I believe with the way I live?
        What does it mean for me to live a “life of integrity?”
        How do I discover the right friends and mentors?
        How do I immerse myself in a supportive community?
        How do I passionately live for the sake of the Kingdom?
       How do I continue to grow in my discipleship of Christ?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sacred Space

Moses was in the desert tending his father-in-law’s sheep when he encountered a burning bush that was not consumed by the flames (Exodus 3:1-15).  He “turned aside” to see this marvelous thing.  God instructed Moses to take off his shoes because this is “Holy Ground,” holy because God was uniquely present.  Moses communed with God.  His life was never to be the same because he visited that sacred place.

Our worship space here at Holy Trinity is our “Holy Ground.”  It is here that we, like Moses, “turn aside” from our daily lives and uniquely encounter God.  This space is “consecrated” by God, which means it is set apart from the world for holy purposes.  It is here that sacred things happen, such as the reading of Scripture and communing with God at His Table.  This is where our prayers go up like incense filling the Temple, where in baptism God sets our feet upon the path leading to Him, where turning points in life such as marriage are sacramentalized (made sacred because God enters into this sacred event). God makes this space for us “Holy Ground.”

Since our worship space is set apart from the world, it looks and feels differently.  It is full of signs and symbols of our Christian journey.  For instance, the baptismal font as we enter the church reminds us of our baptismal covenant with God.  The altar reminds us of the very throne of God.   As we gather around the Lord’s Table we are reminded of the saints of God (that’s us) gathered around the great banquet table of the Feast of the Lamb at our Last Day. 

Our demeanor and behavior when we are in this sacred space is also different.  We are reverent and quiet as we enter this space.  During worship we honor God by singing, praising Him and giving thanks.  We seek to have the Lord speak to us in Scripture and sermon.  We have the tradition of bowing or genuflecting as we acknowledge the

Lord’s presence represented in the Cross of Christ, and with the scriptural admonition that “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow,” we have the wonderful custom of bowing at the mention of the name of Jesus. 

And then we have the ancient tradition of processing the Gospel book down from the altar into the midst of the people for the reading of the Gospel lesson, symbolizing the Word of God coming down to us from the realms of Glory. This is reminiscent of the Word of God coming to the Children of Israel at Mt. Sinai.  White vestments signify being “washed clean in the blood of the lamb.”  We sit to hear God speak, and stand for praise and prayer.  If we had kneelers, we would kneel at times of particular reverence or humility before Him.  The list goes on….   Although we may not take our shoes off as Moses did, we do indeed treat this place as Holy.                                                                                                                                     Father Rob