Holy Trinity Anglican Church

Month: February 2019

Rules of the Game – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 24 FEB 2019

Listen to Fr Ed’s sermon from the afternoon service – Rules of the Game

LESSONS:

First Lesson           Isaiah 61:1-4

Psalm                      Psalm 96

Second Lesson      Romans 10:9-17

Gospel                    John 20:19-31

COLLECT: Lord God, you know that without your grace we cannot put our trust in anything that we do; defend us, by your mighty power, from all adversities which might assault and hurt our souls; we ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns as one God, now and forever. Amen.

Preparing to Receive – Reflection for 24 FEB 2019

Last week, I invited you to begin preparing for Lent. This Sunday and next Sunday, I hope to clarify a bit what it means to prepare for and experience Lent. At the heart of the forty days of Lent is the remembrance of the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness before the start of His earthly ministry. At the culmination of this time of fasting, prayer, and temptation, Jesus returns to Galilee proclaiming the Kingdom of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. As we look at our journey through Lent, may this season of prayer and fasting bring us to Holy Week ready to receive the Holy Spirit and to be sent into the world.

Our reading from Isaiah reminds us of the people of Nazareth where Jesus reads this passage at the start of his public ministry. These people were not prepared to see Jesus as the Anointed One nor were they prepared to hear about the Kingdom according to God’s vision. They were unprepared to receive good news into their own poverty or see any good in the poor around them. They were unprepared to acknowledge their own brokenness and captivity in order to receive healing and freedom. As we consider what Lenten devotions we might take on, let us consider what will prepare us to receive Jesus and His Kingdom.

As we look forward to Holy Week, we look forward to some of the most powerful services of the entire church year. We can look forward to our celebration of the institution of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday. As Jesus humbles himself to wash the feet of the disciples, we will hear about Peter who is unprepared to receive Jesus in this way. We will hear Jesus offer himself in his body and blood to his disciples and to us. As we consider what Lenten devotions we might take on, let us consider what will prepare us to receive the service of Jesus washing our feet, to receive the sacrifice of Jesus in his Body and Blood, and to receive, like Cleopas and his friend, the risen Christ revealed in the breaking of bread.

We can look forward to walking the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. We will encounter Jesus who spent the night in prayer so intense that he was sweating blood. We will encounter Simon of Cyrene who received the cross of Jesus after Jesus fell. We will encounter Veronica who received the image of Jesus on the handkerchief she used to wipe the face of Jesus. As we consider what Lenten devotions we might take on, let us consider what we might receive on the way to Calvary.

Encountering True Power – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 17 FEB 2019

Listen to Fr Rob’s sermon from the morning service – Encountering True Power

LESSONS:

First Lesson             Jeremiah 17:5-10

Psalm                        Psalm 1

Second Lesson        1 Corinthians 15:12-20

Gospel                       Luke 6:17-26

COLLECT: Almighty God, we ask you mercifully to look upon your people; that by your great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

A Season of Preparation – Reflection for 17 FEB 2019

God’s prophecy through Jeremiah offers us an image rich contrast between those who trust in their own strength and human ability and those who rely on God. Those who trust in themselves and seek the approval and companionship of other people are shriveled and fruitless desert shrubs with hearts far from God. In stark contrast, those who place their trust in God and seek His companionship and approval flourish by drawing water from deep roots even in the driest seasons. 

Jeremiah’s prophecy also reveals a truth about ourselves that we would rather avoid. We are masters at self-deception! We will call ourselves flourishing even as the dry winds wither our leaves. Our hearts will seek to call a single withered raisin a bountiful harvest. Indeed, our hearts deceive us and hide the desperate sickness that hides within us. Yet we are not without hope. God promises to search our hearts and test our thoughts revealing, healing, restoring, and comforting the innermost parts of our being. 

As a church, we receive that promise of searching and testing during Lent and celebrate the fulfillment of the promise of restoration, healing and transformation in the Resurrection of Christ at Easter. Today is the third Sunday before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, March 6th. This is the traditional Sunday in the church year to begin the preparation for a Holy Lent. For some of us, the tradition of Lent is new or uncertain. These weeks of prayerful preparation can help us to fully experience this season. In the next two weeks, we will explore some options for Lenten devotions, but this week we will start by examining ourselves.

As we begin preparing for Lent, we can start with Jeremiah’s prophecy as a self-examination. Where am I trusting in myself and my own strength instead of turning to God? What parts of my life feel withered and dry? In what ways do I deceive myself? What in me is desperately sick and in need of healing? How do I try to hide from God? These are the things we hope to place before God in our Lenten devotions.

We also search for those ways that God is at work in us. In what ways have I learned to trust in the steadfast love of God and seek my identity, security, and strength in Him? What parts of my life are truly flourishing, drawing water from the deep wells of God’s Love even in the bleakest circumstances? How do I hear Truth from God? In what ways has God healed me? In what ways do I present myself before God and allow Him to search and to heal the hidden parts of my soul? We give thanks for these blessings and use them to guide us into the Lenten devotions that strengthen us.

I invite you to begin examining your schedule, your choices, your feelings, your joys, your fears and your doubts. Gently become aware of your resistance to the work of God and your own self-deception and blindness. Begin asking God to prepare you for a Holy Lent. 

How Do We Follow Jesus? Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 10 FEB 2019

Listen to Fr Rob’s sermon from the morning service – How Do We Follow Jesus? Or from the afternoon service – Do Not Be Afraid

LESSONS:

First Lesson              Judges 6:11-24

Psalm                         Psalm 85

Second Lesson         1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Gospel                       Luke 5:1-11

COLLECT: O Lord, our Creator and Redeemer, we ask you to keep your household the Church continually in your true religion; so 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, both now and forever. Amen.

Go, I am With You – Reflection for 10 FEB 2019

In our Old Testament reading today, the Lord manifests Himself to an insecure youth from an insignificant family and greets him as a mighty warrior. Israel had followed the gods of the people around them and forsaken the true God. God had withdrawn His protection and sent a foreign nation to oppress Israel. Now, in the midst of poverty and oppression, God had called Gideon to lead His people into freedom. 

It is tempting to get caught up in the miraculous ways in which God delivers Israel through Gideon and miss the Good News. The Good News is not that the Lord accepted Gideon’s offering in a flash of fire nor in the defeat of the Midianites. The Good News is that God promises to be with Gideon and with Israel. As Gideon recognizes and receives this Good News, he responds in worship declaring that the Lord is Peace.

That same Good News came to us in the Incarnation as Jesus, Immanuel, the Lord With Us and the heavenly host cried out to a world in poverty and oppression, “Peace.” After the resurrection, Jesus sent out the Apostles, insecure and insignificant, with His Peace and the assurance of His presence.

“I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:21)

We need to still hear this Good News today. We can still fall victim to the worship of the idols of this world and feel abandoned by God. It is easy to look at ourselves as insignificant and insecure. It is tempting to miss the presence and peace of God in the distractions of the day.

However, we are still invited to hear and receive the Good News of God With Us and respond in worship. As the Church, we inherit that same commission and that same promise today. We will pray today again that “He may dwell in us and we in Him” and that He would “send us out into the world to do the work you have given us to do.” 

We go in confidence of the Good News that God is with us and the He is Peace. May it be so.

Known and Loved – Reflection for 3 February 2019

We encounter the loving kindness, power, and grace of God in our reading from Jeremiah today. We hear that God knew, loved, called, and sent out Jeremiah even before he was born. As Jeremiah was still in the womb God was with him. As God reveals Jeremiah’s calling, Jeremiah responds in doubt and uncertainty. He worries about what people will think of him and how he will be treated. God reassures him that the true power to save and deliver rests in God alone. Finally, God places His words within Jeremiah’s mouth that Jeremiah might proclaim the Truth with great power.

The Good News is that through the Incarnation, Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus the Christ, each of us can be assured that we were known, loved, called, and sent even before we were born. Although we often respond with the same doubt and fear of Jeremiah, we too can rest in the steadfast love of God and His power to deliver us from all evil. We can know that no matter what the world might say, we are known and loved through Jesus. We are also called and empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim this Truth with great power and even greater love.

As I look in the news, I am deeply saddened. I am saddened that we can talk about children who are known and loved by God as a choice rather than a blessing. I am saddened that too often those who speak in the name of Jesus, speak not with love and power but with hate and fear. I am saddened when we denounce sin without proclaiming the forgiveness and deliverance from sin that comes through the Cross and Resurrection. 

As I look at the two professions that formed much of my adult life, the Army and veterinary medicine, I am saddened by the high rate of suicide in each. I am saddened that the Truth of God’s love from even before we were born was not heard in these lives. I am saddened that the hopelessness that the world proclaimed was louder than the Hope we proclaim. 

As I look at the people of Holy Trinity, I am hopeful. I am hopeful as I see you hear deeply the love of God for you. I am hopeful as you overcome doubt and fear and trust in the steadfast love of God. I am hopeful as the words of love and redemption are placed in your mouths by the Holy Spirit and you proclaim the Truth with great power and even greater love.

A Kingdom Vision – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 3 FEB 2019

Listen to Fr Rob’s sermon from the morning service – A Kingdom Vision

LESSONS:

First Lesson                 Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm                            Psalm 71:12-21

Second Lesson            1 Corinthians 14:12-25

Gospel                          Luke 4:21-32

COLLECT: O God, you know that we are set in the midst of so many and grave dangers that in the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright: Grant us your strength and protection to 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, world without end. Amen.

Ordering Our Lives – Reflection for 27 January 2019

As we come to our reading from Nehemiah, the wall around Jerusalem has been completed and those who have returned from exile have been registered according to their families. Now the people have gathered and Ezra brings out the Torah and reads to all the people. The Levites explain t
o people so that they understand the revelation of God in Torah. They hear of the mighty work of God that brought Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. They hear the way God revealed to them the covenant by which they would live as His people and He would be their God. They saw the rebellion of their people that led them into exile and wept at their sin. They also saw the mercy and redemption of God that had brought them back to Jerusalem and restored the Temple and the city. The next day, they restore the festivals that the Torah commands so that they rehearse the works of God and do not forget.

If we look closely, we can see ourselves in these exiles. Even today as we encounter God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible, we encounter His mighty power and His loving-kindness. We see our own sin and rebellion, and we weep. We also encounter our own redemption and restoration, and we rejoice.

We also recognize our own propensity to forget the love of God in the business of our lives. Instead of the festivals of Israel, we observe the liturgical calendar and the festivals of the Christian life. In the first half of the year, beginning in Advent, we celebrate the life of Christ from Incarnation to Passion to Resurrection to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The second half of the year, beginning on Trinity Sunday, we celebrate the life of Christ in His Church. We use the liturgical colors to mark our passage through the year. Purple calls us to penitence. White celebrates the holiness of Christ. Red celebrates the power of the Holy Spirit and the blood of martyrs. Green represents the growth of our faith and the Church in the Kingdom.

At our annual meeting in August, I called us to be a parish committed to the Gospel, to prayer, and to community. We will be using the weekly reflections to explore these commitments according to the liturgical seasons. We started by exploring prayer in Advent. We will continue by reflecting on the proclamation, prediction, and prefigurement of the Gospel in the Old Testament lessons during Epiphany. We will move back to prayer for Lent and Holy Week. We will look again at the Gospel as we celebrate the season of Easter and the Feast of Pentecost. We will focus on life in community as we enter the second half of the year and the ordering of the church in ordinary time. 

I pray that as we encounter God in Word and Sacrament week by week that like the exiles returning to Jerusalem we weep over our sin and rebellion, rejoice in our redemption through the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, and order our lives that so that we do not forget the steadfast love of God.