Holy Trinity Anglican Church

Month: February 2020

Coming Down the Mountain – Sermon for the Feast of the Transfiguration 23 FEB 2020

Listen to Fr Rob’s sermon – Coming Down the Mountain

LESSONS:

First Lesson Exodus 24:12-18

Psalm Psalm 99

Second Lesson Philippians 3:7-14

Gospel Matthew 17:1-9

COLLECT: O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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Preparing for Lent – Cultivating Piety – Reflection for 23 FEB 2020

   Piety, or personal holiness, has been defined, praised, condemned, or enforced in a variety of ways through out the history of the Church and even in the Jewish culture that preceded the Church. However, for the purposes of cultivating piety in the coming Lenten season, I would like to broadly define the practice of piety as deliberately choosing those ways or habits that deny our selfish desires and encourage us to love God and neighbor. In other words, piety is simply choosing to live as who are, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven and beloved children of God, rather than according to the lies and deceptions of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

   However, the traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and alms giving can at times seem inward focused rather than upward and outward focused. Perhaps in this liturgical year walking through Matthew’s Gospel we can turn to Scripture for insight. Since the Lenten season begins following the Feast of the Transfiguration and extends to the triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, this may be a good portion of Scripture to consider as we prepare to observe Lent.  

   In these three chapters of Matthew’s Gospel (Ch 17-20), we see the ministry and teaching of Jesus demonstrating what it means to live as the people of God, citizens of the Kingdom. It is the practical application of the discipleship requirement that Jesus gives in Matthew 16:24, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

   We find a call to be a Kingdom people.

– Trusting in God and not idols

– Having a faith moves mountains

– Establishing a community of equality as children of God

– Pursuing reconciliation and not retribution

– Seeking unity and not division

– Striving for humility not position, wealth, and status

– Living in selflessness and not selfishness

– Seeing true greatness in service

   I invite you to prayerfully consider how your Lenten devotions can teach us to walk as we truly are, as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, setting aside selfish desire and cultivating love.

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Called to Mission – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 16 FEB 2020

Listen to Fr Rob’s sermon – Called to Mission

LESSONS:

First Lesson Isaiah 49:1-7

Psalm Psalm 67

Second Lesson Acts 1:1-8

Gospel Matthew 9:35-38

COLLECT: O Lord, our heavenly Father, keep your household the Church continually in your true religion, that we who trust in the hope of your heavenly grace may always be defended by your mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.  Amen.

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Preparing for Lent – Cultivating Humility – Reflection for 16 FEB 2020

   God places us in community and gives gifts to the community through each one of us. One of my favorite definitions of humility is, “Taking up the right space in community.” A lack of humility may result either in taking up too much space and crowding others, or it may result in not taking up enough space and withholding your unique gifts from the community. In either case, the health of the community is impaired.

   As we prepare for Lent, I invite you to notice the groups in which you take part. Consider the community within your home, within your neighborhood, within your work, and within the parish. Consider also the community you keep with God through prayer, reading Scripture, and worship. 

   In what ways might you be taking up too much space? Is yours the only opinion that is heard? Are yours the only needs or desires that are considered? Do you insist on having your way?

   In what ways might you be taking up too little space? Does fear or distrust prevent you from offering your opinion or presenting you needs to the group? 

   As a Lenten devotion, I invite you to prayerfully consider one way in which you might move towards taking up the right space.

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Preparing for Lent – Reflection for 9 FEB 2020

  This Sunday marks the beginning of the preparation for Lent. In some liturgical traditions, the liturgical color changes to purple and a preparatory version of Lenten disciplines might begin on this Septuagesima Sunday. While we will retain our green paraments until Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, it may be helpful to begin considering the ways we might prepare for Lent.

   For those of us who did not grow up in a tradition that celebrated Lent, this preparation may simply begin with considering the season of Lent. The Prayer Book describes Lent as, “a time of penitence, fasting, and prayer, in preparation for the great feast of the resurrection.” These Lenten disciplines prepare us to more fully experience the Joy of the Easter season, just as the reminder of our mortality in the ashes at the beginning of Lent prepare us to rejoice in the new and eternal life we celebrate in the Resurrection. Over the next three weeks, we will consider these disciplines of penitence, fasting, and prayer in the Sunday reflections, but I will broaden the terminology and opportunities by describing simplicity, humility, and piety.

   Those of us who have encountered the extended “voluntary” deprivation of training exercises or deployment have a keen understanding of the impact of the discipline of simplicity. Nothing makes you appreciate the simple pleasure of a hot shower, a home cooked meal, or a soft bed than several weeks or months without one. In much the same way, the discipline of simplicity tunes our senses to appreciate the blessing that is ever present in the small things of our everyday life. We might practice simplicity by traditional fasting on specific days or from certain foods during the Lenten season, or we might consider taking on the simplicity of a daily family meal without the interruption of phones or the distraction of television. We might consider embracing the simplicity of buying less or donating some of what we have to Christian Assistance Ministry or another charity. Or, perhaps there is another way in which you might intentionally and prayerfully exchange busyness for simplicity. 

   I invite you to prayerfully consider a practice of simplicity to begin this Lenten season.

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A New Way of Being – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 9 FEB 2020

Listen to Fr Rob’s sermon – A New Way of Being

LESSONS:

First Lesson Habakkuk 3:1-19

Psalm Psalm 27

Second Lesson 1 Corinthians 2:1-16

Gospel Matthew 5:11-20

COLLECT: O Lord, our heavenly Father, keep your household the Church continually in your true religion, that we who trust in the hope of your heavenly grace may always be defended by your mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.  Amen.

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Counting Blessings – Reflection for 2 FEB 2020

As Jesus begins his teaching to the disciples, he lists a series of blessings. The blessing of the kingdom of heaven on those who are poor in spirit, the blessing of comfort for those who mourn, the blessing of a rich inheritance for the meek, the blessing of righteousness for those who earnestly desire it, the blessing of mercy for those who are merciful, the blessing of the presence and intimacy with God for those who cultivate the purity of their own heart and peace among the people around them, and the blessing of eternal reward for those who are persecuted.

   These blessings are undeniably desirable, but the circumstances that surround them are probably not high on our wish list. In fact, we often avoid them, deny them, or complain when we find ourselves in these circumstances. Sometimes we may even blame others or ourselves for the very circumstances in which we might encounter true blessing. I wonder how often we miss the blessing that God intends for us because we would rather avoid the circumstances that prepare us to receive the fullness of the gift. For example, when we refuse to mourn and cry out in lament, we also avoid the comfort of God in the depths of our sorrow. 

   What if instead we cultivated the habit of noticing blessing? This habit is much easier to develop when our circumstances are less uncomfortable. There are a number of practices that can open our eyes to blessings that we might miss in our normal, everyday circumstances. The practice of acknowledging and receiving the blessing of food with each meal is an easy place to start. The practice of a gratitude journal or other form of looking prayerfully at the day and seeing where we recognized the goodness of God. 

   Once we have become comfortable with these practices, we can add a level of difficulty and search for blessings in less desirable circumstances. We might see the blessing of a new day when the alarm goes off. We might see the blessing of family and community as we go about our chores. We might look back on the undesirable parts of our day and prayerfully ask God, “Where was your gift in this?”

   As we cultivate the habit of noticing our blessings in the good and bad of each day, when we find ourselves in extraordinary circumstances, poor in spirit, disappointed and discouraged, meek, hungry, mourning, mired in conflict and ugliness, we can begin to look for the gift that God has for us even in these times.

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Keeping Score – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 2 FEB 2020

Listen to Fr Rob’s Sermon – Keeping Score

LESSONS:

First Lesson Micah 6:1-8

Psalm Psalm 37:1-11

Second Lesson 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Gospel Matthew 5:1-12

COLLECT: O God, you know that we are set in the midst of many grave dangers, and because of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright: Grant that your strength and protection may support us in all dangers and carry us through every temptation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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