Seven Spirits of God: A Pentecost Exhortation

Read this moving summary of almost everything you need to know and love about the Holy Spirit of God in less than 800 words.  And may the Spirit of the Lord be with you.

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Celebrating Jesus’ Ascension

May 17 is the day that we will celebrate Jesus’ ascension to heaven as the culmination of the Easter season.  In the worship of many modern Christian churches, Jesus’ ascension to heaven is a neglected and forgotten reality.  However, it has not always been so.  As the annual liturgical calendar developed in the fourth century, churches began to devote a special day to commemorate Jesus’ ascension within the Easter season prior to Pentecost.  Not only the calendar but also the early Christian creeds signified the ascension’s prominent place in early Christian thought and life.  Both the baptismal creed that later developed into the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed formulated in the first two ecumenical councils at Nicea (325 A.D.) and Constantinople (381 A.D.) list Jesus’ ascension among the most fundamental articles of the Christian gospel. Continue reading

George Herbert in Lent

Here is an article on why the poetry of 17th-century Anglican pastor George Herbert makes excellent reading for Lent because of his sensitive and insightful treatment of themes of humility, repentance, and lament:

George Herbert in Lent by Timothy George

Hebert’s poem “Love” evokes the entire journey of Lent from humble confession to the joy of hope and welcome by the divine Beloved who has overcome all the barriers of sin.

Love (III)

by George Herbert

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lacked anything.
“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here”:
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”
“Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.” “You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.


Christian life is fasting in order to feast

We can only feast in faithfulness and joy if we are trained by fasting of all kinds.  More generally, we can only appreciate and use God’s gifts rightly if we do so by waiting for the right time and submitting to his methods of training.  Read here to find out how Lenten disciplines of fasting can help train us in this fasting-in-order-to-feast dynamic of the whole Christian life.

The Season of Epiphany

On January 6, the church enters a new season of the liturgical calendar.  The colors at the front of the church change from white to green to signify the season of Epiphany.

When we say, “I’ve had an epiphany!” we mean that suddenly we see something profound that changes everything.  Something is shown or revealed to us that we were missing.  During the season of Epiphany, the church has traditionally focused upon events in Jesus’ life that show us his identity as our Savior and Lord.  According to the most ancient traditions, Epiphany begins with reflections on the visit of the Magi (Matthew 2:1-12), which shows his royalty and mission to all nations, the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34), which shows him to be the beloved Son of God and promised Redeemer King, and the marriage feast at Cana (John 2:1-12), which shows his power to bring the promised age of purification by his blood and new abundance in God’s renewed creation.

The Epiphany theme of seeing/showing means two things for us.  First, we have the chance to see Jesus for who he is.  He is our protecting and defending King, the Savior for all peoples, the beloved Son of God who makes us beloved children of God, the Spirit-anointed Christ who also gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit, the host of the great banquet to which we are invited, and.  All we long for and all we strive for is found in him if we will have eyes to see.

Second, we have the calling to show Jesus to others.  In fact, it is in seeing Jesus for who he is that we become able to show Jesus to others. When we see we are saved by his grace and not our own righteousness, we are able show him through lives of humility rather than pride.  When we see all he has done to meet our needs, we are able to show him by caring for others’ needs.  When we see how he has welcomed us in, we are able to show him through our hospitality.  When we see how we have been forgiven, we are able to show him by forgiving.  When we see how richly Jesus has loved us, then we will be able to show Jesus by loving others.

Reformation Day

This coming Sunday, October 26, is Reformation Day.  What was the Reformation?  On October 31st, 1517, the German monk and professor Martin Luther posted a list of 95 theses that sought to reform the beliefs and practices of the medieval Catholic Church according to the teachings of the Bible.  Luther’s ideas for reforming the church encouraged Christians all over Europe to seek major revival and purification of the church from traditions that distorted and corrupted the faith and pattern of life passed on to the church by Jesus through his apostles.  Reformation Day is a holiday celebrated on October 31st or the last weekend in October in remembrance of the Protestant Reformation.

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Behold Our God

The new song for Easter season in the 11:15 worship service is “Behold Our God.”  The sermons during this season will focus on the beauty and supremacy of the risen and reigning Lord Jesus Christ as revealed to us in the Book of Revelation.  This song draws our gaze to the risen Lord Jesus so that we might behold him together with awe and delight as we sing.

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