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.”