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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thoughts on Liturgy and Its Effect Upon Our Walk

One reason why we Christians argue so much about which hymn to sing, which liturgy to follow, which way to worship is that the commandments teach us to believe that bad liturgy eventually leads to bad ethics. You begin by singing some sappy, sentimental hymn, then you pray some pointless prayer, and the next thing you know you have murdered your best friend.

-Stanley Hauerwas

This quote by Professor Hauerwas has been one that continually reminds me of my attitude during worship, the motivation, driving force and aim of my christian walk. Are the words on the page of the Book of Common Prayer there simply to be recited in mindless unison by worshippers, unaware of the impact? How do I, as a believer in Christ, seek to make certain that my worship is acceptable in the sight of our Lord? It is essential to remember that God has guidelines for worship, and is not obligated to accept badly thought out hymns and half hearted prayers simply because one showed up to a house of worship.

It seems that the attitude of many Christians towards worship relies far too much on personal standards, and how they feel during a service. The measure of the quality of their worship is the emotive response elicited. Christ has no duty whatsoever to bless and condone whatever random religious blathering or musical arrangement performed. We are the ones that must come with hushed voices and hearts, into the presence of the Almighty, realizing our immense privilege, and seeking that our acts of worship be totally in line with His standards.

This Lord's Day, enter His house with thanksgiving, penitence, and holy fear. Let our worship be a grateful, orthodox act of thanks for His Salvation, given us by His Son.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thought for the Day: Getting Real About the Bible

We Christians tend to have sanitized ideas about the content of the Bible. We often forget that the Bible is full of stories about flawed, sinful people just like ourselves. People who suffered horribly, people who did terrible things. As Chaplain Mike, the author of the article, writes, "The Bible is rated R because its main theme is redemption." It's a quick read, but it's worth a look!

Check it out at:
The Bible: Rated "R"

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Thoughts on Communion


And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 1 Corinthians 11:24

In the the fellowship of Holy Communion, we seek to know Christ and His suffering. We seek to touch His holy visage, to know the mystery of faith. In Him, with Him, through Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. The preposition ‘in’ is re-occurring when referring to Holy Communion, for it reflects upon our inward quest. Journeying deeper into the heart and mind of Christ. Communing with our Saviour on a most intimate basis. When the host is consecrated, and the people partake, we not only remember the sacrifice of our gentle Redeemer, but the life of brokenness and humility we are called to. In partaking of the cup, we are reminded of His shed blood, that purifying flow which washes our iniquities from the memory of God the Father. Communion is a remembrance, yes, but it is more. I do not hold to the tradition of transubstantiation, as some of our brethren do, but I maintain that the experience of Holy Communion in the service is much, much more than a simple reminder. It is an invitation to become one with Christ, our Holy Redeemer, who by His sacrifice, opened the pathway to Heaven, and much more, to redemption. It is a pilgrimage into the mind of our Lord, to feel His heart for the world, to know the Primal Love. May we know our Saviour in a deeper way, as we carry out His commandment to make disciples in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Jesus, Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world. Have mercy on us. Jesus, Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world. Grant us Your peace. Amen.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Church news, 2/3: "God has known you and consecrated you from your beginning"

On Jan. 31, we considered the import of Jeremiah 1:4-10, which begins:
Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."
"God loves us and He wanted each one of us to be born" Fr. David said. "Before we were formed He knew us and consecrated us for a holy purpose. Even though some of us may have been 'unwanted' by our parents, in knowing us as only God can know us, God is the One who wanted us to be born and to live!"

He mentioned the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade: Sometimes in anxiety and heartache lives are snuffed out. We have a choice and we bear the consequences of our choice. The dilemma is difficult -- the anxiety and heartache that comes from contemplating a difficult pregnancy and birth, or the heartache that follows an abortion. We need to consider what God shows us in what He is saying to Jeremiah: for He likewise looks upon each of us in His holy love as we are being 'knit together in our mother's womb' (Psalm 139:13).

Fr. David told of the life of Tim Tebow, Heisman Award-winning quarterback of the University of Florida Gators. His parents were missionaries in the Philippines when his mother-to-be was afflicted with amoebic dysentery severely enough to be in a coma for a time. Saving her life required a series of very strong medications, and while her treatment was still going on she learned she was pregnant.

This in itself was unsettling news, but the situation became even more challenging when doctors informed the Tebows that Pam's placenta had detached. An abortion was recommended but the family persevered in faith and Tim was born healthy and grew up to be a star athlete.

During the Superbowl, Focus on the Family will be running a pro-life message featuring Tim. Watch for it!

"We don't know how things will turn out, but our Lord does," Fr. David continued, then turning to the common response people give when the Lord reveals His divine purpose, a response similar to Jeremiah's:

Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth." But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a youth'; for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever I command you you shall speak. Be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD."
There are other people of the Bible who made similar responses thinking it cannot be possible for God's purpose for their lives to be true or to come to fruition. Moses had a raft of excuses: "What if they don't believe me? What if they don't listen? I'm slow of speech, let someone else do it." Mary could not understand how it was possible for what God was expecting her to be and do  could ever come to pass...

"It's not about you (alone)," Fr. David explained. "It's about God working His will in you. Trust God and ask the Lord to reign, and He will help you with all that He created you to be and to do. There's only one you   and God loves you for who you truly are   and for what you will become." May God be glorified as we live into who He has created us to be through faith in Him!

NOTES: We will be observing Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17, in a 7 p.m. Service with our brothers and sisters at Holy Cross Anglican Church, 615 Bay Road, Webster. Bon-Ton coupon books are again being offered for the Feb. 27 Community Day sale. See Sue Hemphill for the books, which cost $5 and contain a $10 coupon and many other percent-off coupons. All of the proceeds of the book sales and a percent of the sales on Feb. 27 directly support All Saints. Our parish directory is in the proofing stage; if you haven't yet reviewed your directory information, please do so next Sunday.