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

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Collect for Purity

The Collect for Purity has been an opening prayer in Anglican liturgy since Thomas Cranmer translated it into English during the time of the Protestant Reformation.  The prayer has the classic structure of a Collect:  (1) Address- “Almighty God”; (2) Extolling of an attribute of God- “to whom no secrets are hid”; (3) Petition- “cleanse the thoughts of our hearts”; (4) So that- “we might…worthily magnify your holy Name”; (5) In the name of Jesus- “through Christ our Lord.”

Although the confession of sin is at times placed at the beginning of the service, the Collect for Purity also acts as a mini-confession as we come into the Lord's presence stating that we are an open book to God with “secrets” well known to Him.  In spite of our unworthiness, however, we can by God’s grace and Holy Spirit put aside these sins and obstacles, and truly approach God in worship.  How awesome it is that we have a God that is willing bridge the gap between His holiness and our sin-soaked souls for the sake of communing with us!                                                                                                                                                       Father Rob

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Collect of the Day

There is usually a different Collect of the Day for each Sunday of the church year.  A “collect,” is a short prayer that carries a particular theme.   Sometimes, but not always, the collect of the day summarizes (or collects) the thoughts and theme projected in the Scripture readings of the day. 

Some of the collects we have in the Book of Common Prayer date as far back as the fifth century, but many of them were written by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury during the Protestant Reformation and primary author of the English Book of Common Prayer.
Fr. Rob