Holy Trinity Anglican Church

Month: December 2018

The Word Became Flesh – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 30 DEC 2018

Listen to today’s sermon – The Word Became Flesh

LESSONS:

First Lesson           Isaiah 61:10-62:5

Psalm                      Psalm 147:13-21

Second Lesson      Galatians 3:23-4:7

Gospel                    John 1:1-18

COLLECT: Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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Magnificat-Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 4th Sunday in Advent 2018

Listen to today’s sermon – Magnificat

LESSONS:

First Lesson          Micah 5:2-5a

Psalm                     Psalm 80:1-7

Second Lesson     Hebrews 10:1-10

Gospel                    Luke 1:39-56

COLLECT: Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and as we are sorely hindered by our sins from running the race that is set before us, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

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Fourth Week of Advent – Prayer of Praise

Over the past few weeks, we have looked at different prayers during Advent – the prayers of intercession, lament, and silence. Each of these types of prayer take us outside of our own circumstances and invite us to see things from a different perspective, a Kingdom perspective. This week, we will look at the prayer of praise from a Kingdom perspective.

It is generally fairly easy to praise God when things are going exceptionally well. We can even usually remember to offer thanksgiving when things are pretty normal. The difficulty comes in praising God when things are not going well. 

If we are honest with ourselves, we judge God’s praiseworthiness by our own feelings and circumstances. From a Kingdom perspective, God is worthy of our praise not because of what He does for us but because of who He is. Sometimes, it requires the discipline of praise to give us this perspective. 

The Magnificat provides a form for this discipline. Luke records this prayer of Mary as she “went with haste” into the hill country of Judea to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Because we know the rest of the story, we can easily forget the danger and despair of Mary’s circumstances. Unwed and pregnant, Mary faces danger that Joseph could have her killed or with mercy “dismiss her quietly” (Matthew 1:19) which did not offer prospects any better for a woman in first century Judea or Galilee. The angel’s words that Mary was favored by the Lord must have seemed very distant from the circumstances in which Mary found herself. Yet, as Elizabeth hails her as blessed among women, Mary responds with this beautiful song of praise that we repeat at the end of each day as a canticle in Evening Prayer. 

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For he has regarded
the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from now on,
all generations will call me blessed.
For he that is mighty has magnified me,
and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on those who fear him,
throughout all generations.
He has shown the strength of his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has brought down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the humble and meek.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away.
He, remembering his mercy, has helped his servant Israel,
as he promised to our fathers, Abraham and his seed forever.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

I invite you to spend some time with this prayer of praise this week. Perhaps, you might pray this prayer at the end of each day between now and Christmas. Allow the stress, excitement, disappointment, and anticipation of this busy time of the year fall away into a Kingdom perspective that does not discount or cover over the trials of our current circumstances but reminds us of the power and promise of God within those very circumstances.

Just as we often judge God’s worthiness of our praise by our own feelings and circumstances, we also often judge our own worthiness of God’s love based on our feelings, actions, and circumstances. The discipline of praise reorders our judgements to align with the Kingdom perspective. God is worthy of our praise because of who He is and we are worthy of His love because of who He is. Indeed, let my soul magnify the Lord!

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Bearing Fruit – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church the Third Sunday in Advent

Listen to today’s sermon – Bearing Fruit

LESSONS:

First Lesson          Zephaniah 3:14-20

Psalm                     Psalm 85

Second Lesson     Philippians 4:4-9

Gospel                   Luke 3:7-20

COLLECT: Lord Jesus Christ, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise make ready your way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world, we may be found a people acceptable in your sight; who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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Third Week of Advent – Silence

For God Alone My Soul in Silence Waits – An Invitation to Listen for God in Silence

In all the hustle and bustle of this season, it is easy to lose perspective. Holiday planning, shopping, travel, and the myriad other things that vie for our attention can make the chaos overwhelming. We can easily forget the sovereignty and loving kindness of God. In this third week of Advent, I invite you to cultivate a practice of silence.

Silence is one of the most difficult practices to describe mainly because it is a practice that does not depend on our own efforts. Silence is a gift rather than an achievement. It is a grace and not an accomplishment. In truth, we never truly practice silence, we can only place ourselves in a posture to receive silence in God.

In a variety of places we catch sideways glimpses of silence in Scripture. Elijah encounters God in “the sound of sheer silence” (1Kings 19:11-13). The Psalmist entreats us to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Paul describes a “Peace which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). Often we long to encounter this type of silence, stillness, and peace but do not know how.

I find Psalm 62 to be a practical guide and description of the invitation to rest in silence. The Psalm begins, “For God alone my soul in silence waits.” This tells us right away that silence is a practice not of the mind or of the emotions but rather of the soul. I know about thinking and feeling, but it is hard for me to wrap my understanding around “souling.” Our understanding of the soul comes from the very beginning of Scripture as God breathes life into the Man and the Man becomes a living soul (Gen 2:7). The soul is the very essence of our being. As we enter into silence, we wait in our being rather than in our doing.

The Psalm also describes the experience of silent prayer. We begin with the intention to wait in silence (v. 1-2) and are immediately confronted with the distractions of our circumstances and relationships (v. 3-4). We gently return to our intention (v. 5-6). We might meet distraction again or we might start to think about God rather than simply be in the presence of God (v. 7-8). Again, when we notice our thinking instead of our being, we return to our intention, “For God alone, my soul in silence waits.” 

The fruit of the practice of silence is also difficult to grasp for it is a fruit of the soul rather than the heart or the mind. It takes time to recognize the transformation of the soul in the presence of God, but ultimately, we come away with a different perspective (v. 9-12). We begin to see the smallness of our own strivings in comparison to the mighty working of God. We begin to see our existence through the power of God and his loving kindness. We begin to see the reward of our soul in God and not in our status among people.

While there are a number of ways to listen and wait for God in silence, I invite you to explore the following practice this week. First, find a time and a place in which you can be free of distraction for 15-20 minutes. Silence your phone, set a timer, and find a comfortable position. Now, invite yourself to notice God’s presence with the prayer, “For God alone my soul in silence waits.” Then wait. As you notice thoughts and feelings come up in you, simply thank God for these noticings and offer the thought or feeling to God. Return to waiting again with the prayer, “For God alone my soul in silence waits.” Repeat as often as necessary. When the timer goes off, simply thank God for the work He has done in this time of silence. Trust that God has been at work in this time, even if you are unaware. 

Psalm 62
1 For God alone my soul in silence waits; * 
from him comes my salvation.
2 He truly is my strength and my salvation; *
he is my defense, so that I shall not be greatly shaken.
3 How long will you assail a man to crush him, all of you together, *
as if you were a tottering wall or a broken fence?
4 Their plan is only to bring down the one whom God has exalted; *
their delight is in lies; they bless with their mouth, but curse with their heart.
5 Nevertheless, for God alone my soul in silence waits, * 
for my hope is in him.
6 He truly is my strength and my salvation; * 
he is my defense, so that I shall not fall.
7 In God is my help and my glory; *
he is the rock of my might, and in him is my trust.
8 O put your trust in him always, you people; *
pour out your hearts before him, for God is our hope.
9 As for the children of men, they are but a breath; *
the children of men are deceitful; upon the scales, they are altogether lighter than a breath.
10 O trust not in oppression; put not vain hopes in robbery; * 
if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.
11 One thing has God spoken; indeed, two things have I heard him say: *
that power belongs to our God;
12 And that you, O Lord, are merciful, *
for you reward everyone according to his work.

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Making Straight the Way – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 9 DEC 2018

Listen to today’s sermon: Making Straight the Way

LESSONS:

First Lesson Malachi 3:1-5

Psalm Psalm 126

Second Lesson 1 Corinthians 4:8-21

Gospel Luke 3:1-6

COLLECT: Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and the comfort of your Holy Word we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The Second Week of Advent – Lament

It’s hard to be sad this time of year. Everyone is telling us to be merry. Happy families send us their pictures. Colorful lights adorn houses to stand against the early darkness of winter. We even have songs that celebrate frozen precipitation. 

It’s hard to be sad this time of year, but many of us are indeed sad. We have loved ones we miss, broken relationships, unmet expectations, and any number of other hurts and regrets. We try to put on a happy face and press on as if nothing is wrong because “It’s the holiday season!”

Too often, we feel that we can only bring our happy face before God and only after we “get over it” or “move on.” We begin to think that our inability to see “God working all things to the good of those who fear Him” or “abounding in plenty and in want” are a sign of a lack of faith. Instead this is a call to a deeper faith, a faith based on God’s grace and not our striving. In the Psalms, we have a Biblical example to lead us beyond a shallow view of God and into a deeper more honest relationship.  

One way to see the Psalms is as a commentary on Torah, a record of the messy place where worship meets life, the place of our experience. The Psalms teach us to view our day to day experience of joy, frustration, wonder, longing, hurt, and healing through from the perspective of our relationship with a loving and powerful God. The Psalms of lament teach us to respond to the difficult parts of our lives from this perspective. Lament does not allow us to hide our hurt and disappointment behind a false piety nor does lament allow us to wallow in our own self-pity. Lament is the hard work of taking our pain before God and waiting in His presence to receive His healing love. In lament, we trust the love of God to be big enough to hear our complaint and the power of God to be great enough to respond.

The basic form of lament has four movements. These movements are not always in the same order nor are they always obvious in the Psalms. 

One movement is naming the facts and feelings of our current circumstances. In this movement we are brutally honest with God about what is broken or hurtful in our lives and how we feel. 

In another movement, we admit our inability to make things better on our own. We may even list all the things we tried to fix ourselves. We admit that we can’t tolerate things as they are. 

In a third movement, we admit to God that only He can fix whatever is broken. We may even have the boldness to demand that He fix things because it is after all His job. We might even complain at His seeming slowness. 

In these three movements, we allow our uncensored hurt, pain and disappointment to be poured out before God. Then we wait. If we are bold enough in our lament, we might even wait with a bit of fear at God’s response. Yet we wait in the confidence of God’s love. This is the stillness between movements. This is God’s stillness and we must not rush or ignore it.

The last movement of lament is praise. Not a shallow resignation to praise, not a fresh coat of paint over a spot of mold. This is a praise from the depth of our being. We have poured out the brokenness of the “what and where” around us. we have poured out the “how and why” of our feelings and desires. We have waited until God has spoken into the very core of our identity, the “who” at the center of us, and we have heard again of our belovedness and we rejoice.

Lament reorients us from our outside-in view to an inside-out view. Our circumstances and even our feelings may not change but through lament we view our circumstances from the perspective of our belovedness in God rather than our brokenness before God.

I invite you to see these movements of lament as you read Psalm 13. I invite you to read the Psalm once more and pray yourself into this Psalm. I invite you to read once more. Read slowly, pausing to rest in the fact and feeling that the words call forth in you. Wait in the silences for God to comfort you.

Psalm 13

1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;
my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

It’s hard to be sad this time of year, but by taking the time to lament during Advent, we open ourselves to the deep Joy that comes through Christmas. The season of Advent calls us to longing. This longing calls us to bring our pain, hurt, and disappointment before God.  In Advent, we see the brokenness and hurt, the sin and injustice, the darkness and despair that remain in the world, and we wait and long to celebrate our salvation in the Nativity of Christ and the Light of Epiphany. Advent calls us to lament. 

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Who Is In Charge? – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 1st Sunday in Advent 2018

Listen to Fr Rob’s sermon from the morning service Who Is In Charge?

LESSONS:

First Lesson                 Zechariah 14:3-9

Psalm                            Psalm 50:1-6

Second Lesson            1 Thessalonians 3:6-13

Gospel                          Luke 21:25-33

COLLECT: Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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