Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday Notes

Dear Good Shepherd,

Good Morning and Happy Thursday

Blessing of the Beasts: For those of you who are new to Anglicanism October 4th may be the weirdest Sunday you've yet experienced at Good Shepherd. On Sunday October 4th your house-trained pets (and you) are invited to church where, in keeping with very old and hallowed Anglican tradition we will give them a blessing. A blessing is simply a form of prayer--we ask God to be gracious toward the animals we love and care for.

But why would we do that?

Here is a link to the sermon I preached on the topic last year. And here is a sermon by John Wesley on the place of animals in God's kingdom. You might read those first. But in brief, death entered the world through the sin of humanity. Since Adam was not only the head the the human race but the head of the created order, when he fell all creation fell with him (see Romans 5 and 1 Cor 15). Death came to both man and beast. But the second Adam, Jesus Christ, has destroyed both sin and death and he has reversed the destruction wrought by sin. When his Kingdom is fully established there will be no more death and those who have already died will take part in the resurrection. Not only do we long for this day as believers but Paul tells us in Romans chapter 8 that "all creation groans" for it, waiting for the New Heaven and the New earth.

Part of God's restorative work, will be his restoration of the created order. We see glimpses of this in the prophetic literature--the pre-fall harmony between beasts (lions and lambs for example) will be restored. All of this leads some theologians to believe that animals will take part in the coming Kingdom.

John Calvin wrote this in his Institutes:

"Condemnation of mankind is imprinted on the heavens, and on the earth, and on all creatures. It also appears to what excelling glory the sons of God shall be exalted; for all creatures shall be renewed—not partakers of the same glory but according to their nature shall be participators of a better condition, for God will restore to a perfect state the world, now fallen, together with mankind"

John Wesley said in his famous sermon linked above:

"The whole brute creation will then, undoubtedly, be restored, not only to the vigour, strength, and swiftness which they had at their creation, but to a far higher degree of each than they ever enjoyed. They will be restored, not only to that measure of understanding which they had in paradise, but to a degree of it as much higher than that, as the understanding of an elephant is beyond that of a worm. And whatever affections they had in the garden of God, will be restored with vast increase; being exalted and refined in a manner which we ourselves are not now able to comprehend. The liberty they then had will be completely restored, and they will be free in all their motions. They will be delivered from all irregular appetites, from all unruly passions, from every disposition that is either evil in itself, or has any tendency to evil. No rage will be found in any creature, no fierceness, no cruelty, or thirst for blood. So far from it that "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain." (Isaiah 11:6, &c.)
Of course this is a highly debatable point.  I tend to agree. Other Christians do not. Regardless of where you come down on the theological question, the blessing of beasts is certainly consistent with the love God displays toward animals in scripture. The psalms speak of God's special provision for the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the fish in the ocean. God's Kingdom is described as a place where all creatures live in harmony. God's concern for the cattle of Nineveh was among the reasons he sent the prophet Jonah to that city to call the people to repentance.

In keeping with this concern and in the belief that God loves and cares for the beasts he has created, we're going to bless your beasts on Sunday October 4th during the 10:30am service. All house-trained humans and animals are welcome.

Shepherd's Bowl: Team 4 is scheduled to serve tonight at the Shepherd's Bowl. Team 4 is the largest of the teams and includes most of our new volunteers. Some have wondered why we put most of the new people on one team. Here are some of the reasons for that decision: 1. We want to develop team cohesion very early and that happens when you work together from the very beginning. 2. I'll be there and some others who have done it before will be there as well to help and train and answer any questions--so the new volunteers will not be left to figure things out by themselves 3. The other teams already have their own unique routines developed over time. Farming new volunteers out to different teams and then gathering them again would mean that everyone would learn to do things in very different ways.  4. It may be that some decide that this ministry is not something they are ready to commit to and if so we still have a good number 5. If it turns out that all continue to serve, we can split the team into two teams fairly easily once everyone is trained and feels comfortable.

In any case, thank you to everyone who has volunteered. The dinner starts tonight at 5:30pm. Please try be there about 30 to 20 minutes in advance if you are on team 4.

Grace and patience with music
: The music ministry at Good Shepherd is going through an interim period while we search for a new director of music. During this period, the choir is taking an extended sabbath so that when the new director comes he/she will be able to start fresh, with a choir that is rested and ready. Please be patient with those who have so graciously volunteered to use their musical gifts for our sake during that time. We hope and pray to have a new music ministry director in the next two months.

Acolyte Practice this Sunday after the 10:30am service. We have several new acolytes who are being trained this year: Aydia Brink, Melissa Boeker, Niklaus Boeker, Sarah Dreher, and Nori Martin. They join Doug Osgood, Joe Osgood, Amanda Finch, Abigail Finch, Gabriell Dean, and John King. In all we have 12 acolytes with the potential for two to four others who I am hoping to train in the next few months which should, at some point, mean that every acolyte serves only once a month.

If you are not listed above but would like to train as an acolyte, please let me know by calling the office, sending me an email or talking to me on Sunday.

Mission and Ministry: If you have signed up for any kind of ministry and have yet to be contacted please let me know. By Sunday you should have recieved a follow up call. If not, please let me know via email.

Falling Leaves:
We have a lot of beautiful trees on our new property. That means that we will also have a lot of leaves. Far more than any one or two people can deal with. They could be falling anywhere from October 17th to the 31st. Fred Moat is asking for volunteers to be ready on one of the Saturdays between those two dates to help rake and bag leaves. There should be a sign up sheet in the parish hall this Sunday.

Beginner's Bible Study: Beginner's Bible Study is on for tonight as well. We'll continue our study of the Gospel of John and talk about how to read and interpret the bible for yourself. If you are a new student of scripture this study is perfect for new Christians or believers who have not been very

Worship Committee and Search for a new Music Director:
As most of you know we are in the middle of an interim period at Good Shepherd. Micah Towery, our former music director, got married about a month ago and moved to Vancouver. We formed a committee to think through the worship of the church and to search for a new music director. The committee members are:

Chris Peterson
Samantha Kubic
Colleen Kenny-Kuk
Joyce Coppola
Carrie Moorehead
Matt Tuttle
Anne is the chair

The committee is made up of people from very different backgrounds to reflect the diversity of Good Shepherd: traditionalist former Episcopalians, evangelicals, brand new Anglicans, musicians, college students, Xers, boomers and seniors--people who tend to favor contemporary worship and those for whom contemporary worship is the mark of the beast. We have all sorts and they are all on the committee which should make the meetings interesting.

We hope to call a music director who not only possesses musical skill and ability, but who has a vision for the music ministry at Good Shepherd. And we ask for your prayers during this search.

If all goes well, we could hire within the next two months. Until then the music at Good Shepherd will be a mixture of piano, organ, guitar and flute. Colleen, Jane, Chris and Joyce (Anne's mom) will serve together and/or alternately leading worship while we wait and pray for God to raise up a music minister. Thank you for your patience and your prayers during this time.

Women's Bible Study: Meets every Saturday in the parish hall at 10:00am. They are currently studying the book of Isaiah. All women are welcome.

A Shift in Focus for the Anglican Church Women:
In the past, the ACW has organized fundraisers for the church. These fundraisers were vital to the financial health and wellbeing of the church. But over the years as God has blessed us and we have grown, the focus on fundraising has become less important. Now the ACW has decided that the time is right to shift focus from fundraising toward raising money for mission and for those in need. As the first step in this shift, the proceeds from biggest upcoming project, the Christmas Bake sale, which traditionally supported the general fund of Good Shepherd, will now be used to help a small Anglican congregation in a Nairobi slum pay rent, provide lunch and rubber boots (to protect from open sewage) for the children who attend school there.

As part of this new focus, the ACW also plans to invite all the women of the church to lunch on Saturday, November 14th to discuss future plans and projects. More details will be coming soon.

Sermon series on 1st Thessalonians:  Last Sunday we discussed ( in 1st Thessalonians 1:2-6) the primacy of God's grace (you can watch last week's sermon here) Good works, labor, endurance--and all the good things that we do as believers come as direct results of God's work in us, his grace and power. That means there can be no boasting in the good things that we do but it also means that in Jesus Christ we have the one Source of life and giver of strength to whom we can and must look for help.

This Sunday we'll move on to discuss 1st Thessalonians's the text:

7And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. 2We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.

A Note from the Altar Guild (the Altar guild is the group of people who make sure the vestments, Communion vessels, and altar linens are clean, polished, and well maintained): Keep in mind should you wish to give a memorial thanksgiving offering, the altar guild needs to replace items that were lost when we lost our old building. For example, we need linens, frontals, a cope, chalices, flower vases etc. Thank you for your support.

A Note from Kellie: Hi there! If you’ve added someone to Good Shepherd’s prayer list in recent months and that person’s situation has since been resolved (thanks be to God for all answered prayers!), please let me know so that I can remove the person’s name. Alternately, if you know someone who’s not on the list whom you’d like to see join it, let me know so that I can add him/her. You can e-mail me at kellie.n.french at gmail dot com or just call the church office. Thank you!

Men's Bible Study and Breakfast: Charles Hadley is scheduled to cook. We're almost through 1st Samuel 20 and will hopefully move into 21. Breakfast is served at 6:30am and the study starts at the same time. All men are welcome. 

Christian Education: Questions and Answers: As you know we wrapped up our series on Anglican Sacraments and Worship on Sunday and I announced a new series dealing with the relationship between scripture and evolutionary a larger sense the topic is "Science and Scripture". The first class will be an overview of the biblical account of creation. The second class will be an overview of the three dominant evolutionary theories and then we'll move to discuss ways that Christians have dealt with the apparent (but not real) disparity between science and scripture using the topic of evolution as a case study.

This is going to require a lot of study on my part so the series will officially begin the Sunday after next, October 4th. This will give me time to do some of the reading I'll have to do.

In between, next Sunday, the 27th, we'll have a Q and A session dealing with the disciplines of a disciple. I've had a number of practical questions lately about prayer, bible study, fasting and other disciplines. I've written them down and plan to address them this coming Sunday. If you have any questions regarding these topics (or others) please send me a note by email or give me a call and I will address it during class.

Systematic Theology: The first class will be Saturday October 9th.

Good News for the Week

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