Thursday, February 11, 2010

Good Shepherd Update Thursday February 11th, 2010

Dear Good Shepherd, 

This week's Update, again, will have to be very short. Yesterday I met with the mourning wife and two daughters of a man who died suddenly on Monday. They do not attend Good Shepherd and did not have a place to hold a memorial service. I offered to have the service here and they accepted. The complication is that the daughters are on a tight time schedule and must return home (they live outside of Binghamton) by Friday morning. So the only feasible time for the service, a time when both friends and family can be there, is tonight, Thursday, at 6pm followed by a small reception in the parish hall after the meeting. 

What that means for us is that the Beginner's Bible Study will not be meeting tonight. The funeral will be upstairs in the sanctuary but the reception will be in the parish hall, so the space will be needed. 

The Shepherd's Bowl will go on as usual but the clean up crew for the Shepherd's bowl will most likely overlap with those from the ACW who will be setting up for the reception. 

Thank you to everyone who has agreed to change schedules to accommodate this service and help these people mourn their loss. 

I am also scheduled to speak at Intervarsity Christian Fellowship on the BU campus this Friday evening on the topic of "loving yourself". Intervarsity is focusing on the topic of "love" all year long. Having a healthy "agape" for yourself is foundational to loving others. The second greatest commandment is to "agape" your neigbor as you "agape" yourself. But if your self-agape is twisted and/or non-existent then agape-ing others in the right way will be impossible. 

In any case, the invitation to speak came on Sunday which means my schedule was going to be tight...but with the sudden funeral it is bordering on impossible, so please bear with me perhaps not getting as much done this week as I promised or would have liked. 

To sum up, there will be no Beginner's Bible Study tonight

There will be Shepherd's Bowl at the usual time

Choir will also meet at 7pm following the Shepherd's Bowl

Men's Bible Study and Breakfast will meet on Friday morning at 6:30am as usual...I have no idea who is cooking and who is not. 

Women's Bible Study: will meet as usual at 10am on Saturday

ACW: There will be an ACW meeting this Saturday after the Women's Bible Study

Systematic Theology: will meet at 3:30pm as usual in the parish hall on Saturday

The Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper: is scheduled for this coming Tuesday evening. There will be face painting, the burning of the palms...etc...all sorts of things happening, so please invite your friends and family. The supper is a fundraiser and the cost is 4 dollars per plate.  The money will go to help buy choir robes. 

Ash Wednesday worship will be held at 7am and 7pm...last year the morning service was extremely cold...we seem to have finally gotten a handle on the thermostat issue so it should be nice and toasty by 7am this time around. Invite your friends.

Leaving Home: Anne and I have completed the second part of the series of articles describing our move. You can read it here:

Anne's sermon from last Sunday may be read here:

I cannot find the video tape. I am still looking but I have no idea where it is. As soon as I find it I'll upload it. If you were not there, you missed an excellent sermon. 

This Sunday's sermon will be based on 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

There will be a Healing prayer service every Wednesday evening in Lent---more information coming soon

What is Lent?: For those who are new to Anglicanism, here is a brief article I wrote last year about Lent--enjoy:

Given that we have a number of people coming to Good Shepherd who've never been to church or who are from non-liturgical churches, I'll bet some, at least, are wondering what exactly "Shrove Tuesday", "Ash Wednesday" and "Lent" are.

Let me start with some definitions.

Shrove Tuesday: To "shrive" someone is to hear someone's confession of sin and to assure them of God's forgiveness. "Shrove" Tuesday was traditionally (pre-Reformation) the day when confessions were heard and absolution given in preparation for the lenten fast (see below).

Ash Wednesday: "Ash Wednesday" is the first day of "Lent". Traditionally Christians smear their foreheads with ashes from burnt palm leaves (saved from the previous year's Palm Sunday service) to signify sorrow for sin and to acknowledge that we are but "dust" and "to dust we shall return".

"Lent" is the 40 day period traditionally set aside for self-examination, fasting, and repentance before Holy Week and Easter. The word "lent" comes from an Old English word for "spring". It comes from a German root word (Matthias, maybe you can help here?) for "long"...probably because days grow "longer" during the spring.

Since "Lent" always begins on "Ash Wednesday", the Tuesday before was traditionally set aside (especially before the Reformation) as a sort of "last hurrah"...a day of celebration before lenten confessions and disciplines. Today, believers often commit to a special discipline during Lent in order to deepen their relationship with Christ.

In some places (New Orleans in particular) the Tuesday before "Lent" became the: "Let's-get-all-the- sin-out-of-our-system-before-we-go-to-confession-on-Ash-Wednesday" Day...

In England they just ate pancakes...I have no idea why (note: since I wrote this article I found out that they ate pancakes in order to use up all the fat before the lenten fast)

Since we are an "Anglican" church (ie...our roots are with the Church of England) we tend toward the pancake rather than the New Orleans rout...hence the upcoming Pancake Supper.

Lent can be a very confusing time for those who were not raised in liturgical churches. Some wonder why we set aside a special season of repentance when repentance is something that we should do all year round. And they are right about that at least.

At the same time, purposefully setting a season apart from self-examination, fasting, and prayer, can be very helpful. In my own life, God has used the disciplines I've taken on during Lent to give me victory over a number of besetting sins. It is a time to really pull sin out by the roots. I mean, if nothing else, last week's text from 1st Corinthians 9:24-27, tells us that spiritual discipline is something to which God calls every believer.
...Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified...

A few years ago, I wrote an article about Lent and how to figure out what to do in order to use it effectively. Here's an excerpt:

The word “repentance” comes from the Greek word “metanoia.” Metanoia literally means “to turn around and go the other way.” And that, simply stated, is the perfect description of repentance. When you sin you turn away from God. Repentance turns you around. It’s much more than just feeling sorry for doing wrong (although that is the place to start). It’s an active transformation; a commitment to do, to act, to move in accordance with God’s will rather than against it.

And that is where the whole idea of a Lenten discipline comes in.

For believers, Lent can be a time when you actively work to rid yourself of sins that have grown into habits and/or addictions (yes, this should be something we do all year round but it’s helpful to have a time like Lent set aside for that very purpose).

So, rather than thinking about what vice to give up or what discipline to add, a better place to start is prayer. Ask God to search your heart and bring to your mind those habits of thought, word, and/or deed that displease him most. (Sometimes what is displeasing in your life will be so obvious that you won’t even need to pray, you’ll just know. The Holy Spirit living inside you will have made it abundantly clear already). When you ask this in sincerity you can be sure that God will provide you with an answer.

This answer will tell you whether you need to add a discipline or be rid of a behavior or attitude. If, for example you believe that God wants you to be more committed to studying scripture, then you should probably consider adding personal or group bible study to your routine. If on the other hand you believe God is displeased with the amount of time you spend on the internet or the kinds of things you look at on-line, then you should probably consider cutting out or down on your computer usage or installing some parental control program to keep you accountable (even if, especially if, you’re a parent).

In other words, your Lenten discipline should not be arbitrary. If you have a problem with lust, don’t give up chocolate. Give up whatever it is that leads you into lustful behavior. And don’t just give it up for Lent, use Lent to give it up forever. Let the Lord know that you are committed to turning from the sin he has shown you and then ask him to help you in your task though the power of his Holy Spirit.

Of course you can do all of this at any time during the year, but I suppose the question is "do you?". For me, the answer, sadly, is "no", so I personally need the emphasis on repentance that Lent brings.

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