Monthly Archives: April 2015

A Thursday Reflection – 4.30.15

Where is God found? More horrors witnessed through TV: a major earthquake (with aftershocks) that has sent destruction and deaths over the span of four nations. Once again, we’ll hear a cry for help as humans will (hopefully) begin the herculean task of renewing, restoring and repairing the damages that nature has brought.

In the First Book of Kings, there is that haunting passage of the political refugee, Elijah, being told he would experience his God. And he did: not in signs of power and destruction like an earthquake but in the whispering breeze of silence. God is not found in noise but in life giving breath.

Some, I suspect, will look for God in all this destruction and see “proofs” of God’s power or anger or judgment. I do believe God will be found in this tragedy – as God is always found – through the open hands of hard work and service, through the charity of those of us who are so fortunate as to never have experienced such an event. God is always found in the earthquake, or local train crashes, or in the ministry to the sick and elderly whenever we who are believers demonstrate our love by helping those who cannot help themselves.   No matter what we do, as little as it may be, it fosters God’s presence in the midst of pain.

A Thursday Reflection – 4.23.15

Last Thursday evening, as a favor to a colleague and as a representative of our Diocese, I attended a lecture at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral entitled “Canonical Reflections on the Greek Orthodox Parish.”  OK – let’s be truthful: if I had had tickets to the Mets / Marlins game at Citi Field, you know where I would rather have been. Despite my “expertise” in matters canonical, most lectures in this discipline possess all the excitement of watching paint dry!

However, I was struck by one thing: in their very legal definition of a “parish,” our Eastern brothers do not begin the conversation defining parish boundaries, referring to townships or even what the building looks like or where the church building is located. For our Orthodox sisters and brothers a parish first and foremost is defined as a group of Christians who come together and celebrate Holy Eucharist in a specific place weekly. This is where we Christians gather to hear God’s word and to be fed by the sacramental presence of the Risen Lord Jesus. “Membership” is viewed in terms of worship, not merely in the number of times I choose to or not to attend. Nor by how much I tithe (although such is expected).

What makes us a parish is the fact that we as a community come together each week to celebrate with joy the Good News of God in Christ, to be spiritually fed and to then share the good news of Jesus with others. So I wonder how others view us: are we “to the world” a parish?

A Thursday Reflection – 4.16.15

The season of Easter – the Resurrection of Jesus from death for us – lends itself to reflections about the renewal of our parish.  Think of where we have been.  A year ago, we stared at a deficit of over $100,000 with the sure and certain knowledge that, if unchecked, this made our survival unsustainable.

One year has passed.  Financially, we see signs of turning a corner.  We have a working kitchen in a finished undercroft which bodes well for possible income and for our own enjoyment.  We are noticed in the community.  On Good Friday, we (along with South Salem Presbyterian Church and Stevens United Methodist Church) made history.

Now the real work begins.  We aren’t called to sustain a structure but to be witnesses.  We’re called to worship “in spirit and in truth.” We are called “to make disciples of all nations.”

The point:  financial matters are getting in order.  Now comes the really hard work:  letting God build us up as a worshipping and loving community!  What priority has prayer and worship in your life?  What sustains you?   Are you ready for the next phase of our work?

A Thursday Reflection – 4.9.15

 

An Easter Message from the Archbishop of Canterbury

“Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory! The risen Saviour, our Lord of life, shines upon you! Let all God’s people sing and shout for joy!”

These words of triumph are sung out across churches as Easter dawns. For centuries such sounds of joy at the Easter festival have echoed and continue to echo around the globe in a multitude of different tongues and cultural contexts, making a deep impact on the lives of Christians and Churches. With the confession of Jesus having conquered death we proclaim that we have been raised to new life in him.

In the 15th chapter of the First Letter to the Corinthian Christians, St Paul couples the resurrection of Christ with confidence in the resurrection of Christ’s people.

The Apostle clearly states that the resurrection of Christ is a beginning, and that the hope of our own resurrection can only be in Christ. He argues: if the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then his proclamation is empty and our faith is in vain.

Having laid out all the arguments that would dispose of the Christian claim to the risen Christ, he continues: “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” This is the faith that is also proclaimed in the Byzantine opening to the Easter Liturgy and which has been the confession of Christians down the ages.

The resurrection of Christ is the great hope, not only for each of us individually, but also for today’s troubled world – a world in which violence and violation of human rights describe the day to day context of people in many parts; a world in which moral and spiritual values often seem hopelessly inadequate against the forces of self-seeking gain in every sphere of life.

It is also a world in which our brother and sister Christians are still a beleaguered and even persecuted community in many places, as they have been at different times and places in history. We continue to remember the suffering Christians in the Middle East.

This year our remembrance is also focussed particularly on the Armenian people who a century ago were driven to their death and into exile because they were Christians.

It is into this world that the message of the Church at Easter remains constant over the centuries, proclaiming in the midst of hopelessness the hope of Christ, triumphant beyond death and the powers of evil; living and life giving amongst us.

In this resurrection faith we follow the saints and martyrs throughout the ages who have proclaimed the Risen Christ as their Lord and Saviour, who believe that in Christ there is abundant life and that death and suffering will not have the final say. The Easter faith strengthens us with the hope in life, here and now and in the world to come.

This hope is not an illusion, which turns out to be empty; rather, it is the tested cantus firmus over the ages for all Christians. Beyond human imagination, the power of the resurrection overcomes disparate, conflict-laden and destructive forces. We are called to proclaim God’s Good News in confidence and obedience to Christ to bring healing and reconciliation.

Christ’s resurrection, therefore, also compels us to ever closer bonds of Christian fellowship with one another – the saints in the here and now – to seek greater unity and work together with Christ, as his Body, in the newness of life already begun by him.

It is in this spirit that I greet you with this letter.

I will continue to pray that the hope and joy of the resurrected Christ will deeply move our hearts and souls, that it will heal relationships between individuals, communities and nations, and that it will banish fear, overcome suffering, broker peace and bring reconciliation.

I close with the Song of Zechariah (Luke 1:78): “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

I embrace you with brotherly love in the Risen Christ,

The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby

Archbishop of Canterbury

 

A Thursday Reflection – 4.2.15

The Meaning of the Days of Holy Week:   What We Pray is What We Believe

Maundy (Holy) Thursday:  Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Good FridayAlmighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Great Vigil of Easter:   O God, who made this most holy night to shine with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection: Stir up in your Church that Spirit of adoption which is given to us in Baptism, that we, being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in sincerity and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

All the liturgies are at 7:30 p.m.  (Thursday and Saturday at St. John’s – Friday at St. Paul’s)

Come and See.   God bless you this Easter!