Sunday, December 9, 2018

Advent II - A Voice in the Wilderness

Advent II
December 9, 2018
Fr. Phil Eberhart


"A Voice in the Wilderness"


This morning is the second Sunday of Advent. It is a John the Baptist kind of day.  

Our collect is one that has been preached on a few times here:  hold up your hand in front of your face:  smallest finger is HEAR, next finger is READ,  next is MARK,  first finger is LEARN and the thumb, that allows you to grasp it fully is INWARDLY DIGEST

HEAR, READ, MARK, LEARN AND INWARDLY DIGEST...  THE WORD

Do everything in your power to make the Word of God an integral - an integrated part of the whole of who you are!

John the Baptist - actually its better to think of him as the Baptizer - was a forerunner for his cousin, Jesus.  He saw his role coming up out of the Spirit of Elijah and his call was the Elijah Call to the people of his day.

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight...

Elijah was a tough act to follow.  He was the old style prophet, bringing the Word of God to bear against a people who had turned their back on the God of Israel -- a king (Ahab) and a queen (Jezebel) who actively led the people away into idolatry.  So much so that their very names remain to this day as bywords of evil and treachery against God and His people!

You remember the show down right.  The shootout at the  OK Corral for ISRAEL was on Mount Carmel in the NW part of Israel.  I've stood on the spot on several occasions and looked up at the life size statue of Elijah with the knife upraised.  The showdown was with the prophets of Ba-al, the god of the locals, adopted by Ahab and Jezebel, and vigorously pushed by Jezebel as a national god, instead of the God of the Israelites.

Elijah dares them to show up to see which God will answer.  On top of Mt Carmel he stands against 400 of these prophets.  After a drawn out day of pagan ritual, Elijah douses the wood and the sacrifice with water.  He calls on God YHWH, to answer by fire and fire comes, and consumes the sacrifice and the wood and all the water!  God 1, Ba'al 0 !  

In the Spirit of Elijah, John came to challenge the prevailing culture of Jesus day.  He knew his role as a forerunner - not to be confused with the Messiah. In fact he spoke about that to those who asked:

When asked about Jesus, after Jesus own baptism, John said simply, "He must increase, and I must decrease."

It was shortly after that that John ended up in prison for preaching against the morality of his own king.  And eventually he lost his head over it!

The Second Sunday of Advent is a challenge for us to walk in the Spirit of Elijah and of John, the Baptizer - to witness (in the old meaning of that word - Martureo) for the Good News that Jesus the Messiah brings.

Friends, if you think that we live in a day that is different from Elijah's or from John's, think again.  The world is the world is the world, and though some would have you think, we are getting better and better and better the more politically correct we are, it's just not true.  Darkness will always be dark - that's what it is and what it does! The more things change, the more they stay the same!

Some of our readings today sound like the news from yesterday or this week!

 I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts.

Friends, on this second Sunday of Advent we are being called to stand in our culture, like Elijah did in his and John did in his.  The Word of God inside of us is the only weapon we have.
The Word spoken, just like Elijah and John.  

As one modern day prophet put it, the problem is not with the darkness, its just the dark being dark!  The problem is with the LIGHT - that's us, by the way.  Light dispels darkness, every time.

The prophets of Ba'al may dance around, may be vile towards us, may do all in their power to intimidate, to thwart, to manipulate the culture we live in (and they are!) but we need not be shaken.  The God we serve is The True God, the All-powerful God, The Light of the World!  

And like John the Baptizer, we are sent as fore-runners for Jesus - His disciples, it ways, were sent out two-by-two into all the places where He was going to come!  They were forerunners.

Jesus has sent us here!  This very place as a forerunner Church -  The season of Advent is about His __________?  Advent!   His coming again, both spiritually in the Power of the Spirit that transforms you and me - and in the final Advent - His Second Coming.

So our task, our Mission Possible (not Impossible!) is to be God's witnesses.  Jesus said that among His very last words to the disciples before His ascension!  Acts 1:8

You will be my witnesses (martyrs) in all Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria and to the very ends of the earth."

Hold up your hand again.

Hear... Read... Mark... Learn...
and Inwardly Digest!

Why?  Paul told Timothy once...

Paul’s Charge to Timothy
10 But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. 11 You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra—but the Lord rescued me from all of it. 12 Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.
14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

Let me say it again...

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

Hand up...

Hear
Read...
Mark...
Learn...
Inwardly Digest!

Let's pray,

Lord Jesus Christ, you are the true Word, and your Word spoken has power to change us.  Speak Your Word day by day, into our lives, as we hear, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest your Word written.  Your sheep hear your voice and follow you.  Let us be a hearing and doing people and one's who follow you, and are prepared and equipped to do every good work.

In Jesus precious Name, 

Amen.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Memorial for Oakley Pell "Oak" McEachren

Memorial for Oak McEachren
Friday, December 7     6 p.m.
Fr Philip Eberhart
Resurrection Anglican Fellowship


Among Oak's last words to me about the service were "I don't want this thing to be about me."

But I have to at least start with the why that we are all here and people are watching on our Facebook Live feed from all over the US and around the World!

Why would people want to come to a funeral?

Sure we want to say goodbye and to "Pay our respects" but so much more than that is available here tonight as we celebrate the life and passion of a man who, I think all of us here would say lived into the words of Paul in Ephesians 4, when he urged the church to "live a life worthy of the Lord."

We're here to celebrate the Oak-isms that we've all come to know and love.  The  GLOOOOOORY of a life well lived - and lived in such a way that you knew that this life was being brought to you by Jesus Christ.

Oak's passion  - what he lived so well and what he taught us all so well was complete reliance on Jesus, every day, for every small thing and every big deal.

So in keeping with Oak's last wishes, the rest of this few minutes will not be spent on singing his praises, but the praises of Jesus Christ, His Lord and the first-love of Oak's life.  We also know who held second place! His precious, Marlys.

When we think of Oak it is difficult for us to separate the man from his message and the force of his life in Jesus Christ.  Jesus and His Word, the Holy Scriptures that Oak loved to teach, were the centerpiece of life. Daily bread - living water - the air I breathe - the Word of God and the presence of Jesus Christ, actually available to us, through the fellowship we have with one another, through the communion we take part in, through living life with one another in a real place!  

Oak lived a real life in Christ - no pretense, an occasional outburst - but no pretense.   That life of Jesus is so tangible -- so accessible to each of us, and the great passion of our friend, was to convey with every word and deed the "reality of our redemption."  

When asked about why he was so "into" the worship, the songs, the life of the Church, the presence of Jesus in Word and Sacrament, he would just smile and say, "because its all TRUE!"  He was deeply convinced and desired for you to be deeply convinced of the truth of the Gospel.

And what was that Gospel?  As Oak would occasionally say, "Here it is!"

1.  God loves you with a never-failing love, completely unconditionally.  There is nothing that you can do to make Him love you less (or more.)

2.  We've messed up.  The Bible calls it "sin."  Sadly that's kind of a lost, ancient word these days, but we are swimming in it.  Like a fish, we're as unaware of it as a fish is of water!  It means we've gone our own way, done our own thing - turned away from the Love of God and His plan for us.

3.  God wanted us back, so He took the initiative to make a way for that to happen.  He sent His only Son!  The Bible tells us that Jesus was the Visible image of the Invisible God - God with Flesh on!  Amazing!  We are able to love Him because He first loved us!

4.  But what about the mess I made?  ... I Make?  the one I'm in!!??
What about my "sin."  The way that God did this is he gave His only Son, Jesus of Nazareth, over to death.  You've probably heard the message, if you knew Oak.  Jn 3 ... For God so Loved the World that He gave his only begotten Son.  Why?  Here's the best part.

5.  "that whosoever - SAY WHOSOEVER - that means you and me  - all of us - the whole world is included in WHOSOEVER!   Say it again... 
WHOSOEVER!  Whosoever believes in Him, in Jesus, might have eternal life.  See that's what God intended for us all, from the beginning, that we would live with Him forever, completely free to love, free to believe, free to live - forever.  SAY WHOSOEVER.

WHOSOEVER...

WHOSOEVER... IS YOU.

 God has made a way - its the most amazing thing - one verse in Paul's second letter to the Corinthian church captures it:

God made Him who knew no sin (Jesus, His son) to BE SIN for us, that we might become the righteousness of God, IN HIM.

Now let me come back to Oak for a minute more.  

Oak lived this great exchange - He believed in the saving power of Jesus;  He gave himself to that every morning, applying New Mercy every day, at the breakfast table with Marlys.  He loved The Word of God and studied it consistently and from its riches, He learned "that we might become the righteousness of God, In HIM.  Every day, up to the very last one, he placed his life into the Hands of Jesus Christ, and lived from that passionate center.

His greatest desire was that I ask one final question:  IS THIS REAL FOR YOU?

IT'S ALL TRUE!

GL OOOOO RY !!!

God's hand is extended to you if you have never said the "YES" that is required of all the WHOSOEVER's who come to believe that ITS ALL TRUE!  Just say YES.  I Believe, Lord.  I'm sorry for my willful ways and my sin... the mess I've made of my life.  I Give it all to YOU NOW.  I offer you my life.  Come in, and help me live as You planned for me.

You can pray that right now.  I want us to bow our heads.  I'm going to pray that again.  If you have never said those words to Jesus, say them tonight.  That would be the greatest way to honor the man we are here to celebrate, and to honor his LORD AND MASTER, JESUS.  Let's pray...

Yes, Lord, I believe.  
I'm sorry for my sin - the mess I've made in my life.
I need you, Jesus and I give you my heart and life.
Come inside me, give me Your mercy now.
I accept it and want to live my life from now on in Your power.

Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, tell someone tonight.  You have entered into the great exchange and the reality of everlasting life...

Sunday, December 2, 2018

2019 Pledge and Giving Commitment Form



2019 Stewardship Commitment Worksheet

        

       Resurrection Anglican Fellowship
      P O Box 2127    Centennial, CO


  --------------------

(Note: If you desire to give anonymously, please leave the top part blank 

and mail to the above box number or return this portion in the offering plate by DEC 9)



Name:  



Address:


City, State, Zip:

Phone numbers:
        Home:
        Mobile:
                (  ) check if you text on your mobile

Email address:

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Check all that apply;
        (  ) Member of REZ
        (  ) Regular Attender/Giver
        (  ) Occasional Attender/Giver
        (  )  Non-attending giver
        (  ) One time gift
        (  ) Special needs/projects giver
        (  ) Friend of REZ on Facebook
        (  ) I/We receive the weekly CC email or
        (  ) I/We would like to receive it.

My / Our giving commitment ;
        (  ) Annual          $____________________
        (  ) Quarterly      $____________________   X 4
        (  ) Monthly        $ ___________________    X 12
        (  ) Bi-monthly     $___________________   X 24
        (  ) Weekly          $ ___________________  X 52

        (  ) Special          $ ___________________

                                                     Total Giving Commitment  $_______________



(  ) I am interested in talking about giving non-liquid assets to REZ.  (Car, business interests or stocks/bonds/insurance assets) (This may be accomplished by setting up a donor-advised fund through the National Christian Foundation and can have huge tax benefits. Ask Fr. Phil for info or to set up a consultation appointment)


(  ) I would like to give through my bank, bank card or other fund transfer methods.
We encourage you to set up a regular transfer through your bank's automatic payment system.  We can help you get it set up.

Please call with questions
Fr. Phil 720-219-0055.

God will bless you as you give.
Fr. Phil Eberhart+

ADVENT 1 - So What's the Point?

ADVENT I
DEC 2, 2018
FR. PHIL EBERHART


Zech 14:(1-2)3-9
Ps 50:1-6
1 Thess 3:6-13
Luke 21:25-33

Welcome to Advent!   Happy New Year, Church Year that is!

I have preached a multitude of Advent 1 sermons and each time I am amazed at the readings and their immediacy and relevance for our day.  Sometimes its like reading the morning paper!  There are things that sound familiar to us - even more familiar now - perhaps than ever before.

It's true that every age - every generation - has had its visions of Christ coming in the clouds, because of some of the circumstances which they are enduring, whether hardship and persecution, extreme weather, earthquakes, amazing things happening in the skies above ...  whatever.  All of these things are present in our news too.  Earthquakes, tsunamis, nations in distress, people groups rising up against one another, ethnic strife and hatred on the rise - we can name a few right from our morning papers!

So whats the point - the point of ADVENT?

As we study the Word of God I think it is paramount that we remember what was said in our Gospel reading this morning from Luke - the last line of our reading.

Heaven and earth SHALL (say SHALL) pass away...

You know how important I say some words are?  Like Therefore!.  Well ... SHALL is one of those words too.

Every one say the verse together --

Heaven and earth shall pass away, BUT My Words shall not pass away!

OK, guess what "shall" means?!!

YEP...    SHALL!

It's going to happen!  NO doubt.  

God is going to remake the heavens and the earth!  It's here in the Book!  And what does it say SHALL NOT pass away?  My Words.

The Word of God is enduring - it alone is the creative force!  God said, ... and BANG!  IT WAS!  
I read it in the first chapter!  And now, here we are almost at the last chapter, nearly at the last page, and the Word of God is the thing that will remain!

Where should we put our trust?

Where should we draw our life from?

Where can we find Solid Ground to stand on?

One of the men yesterday at Mens' Group, commented that the point of Advent and of our readings this morning and throughout the 4 Sundays of Advent are Get Ready!  Be prepared.

Next week we go further into what that preparation looks like - our collect is the Word of God Collect - one of our favorites here - HOLDUP YOU HAND-  small finger up: Hear! Next finger: READ!  Next:  MARK!  First finger: LEARN!! and finally the thumb, INWARDLY DIGEST.

Friends, this is the stuff that SHALL NOT pass away, and here we find a sure foundation, a rock that will stand the storms of life, even at the end of days!

And as we "see the day approaching" it behooves us to avail ourselves "more and more" to this WORD and what it gives us!  PREPARATION - READINESS - FAITH - A SWORD IN OUR HAND -

Sounds like another list we are pretty familiar with, right?  Ephesians 6:10 and following?

1.  TRUTH AS A BELT
2.  RIGHTEOUSNESS AS A BREASTPLATE
3.  PREPAREDNESS OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE
4.  FAITH AS A SHIELD
5.  SALVATION AS A HELMET
6.  WORD OF GOD AS A SWORD
7.  PRAYER IN THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT

So this is what Paul calls the WHOLE ARMOR of God.
I've made these words live links in my sermon text that you can find on my blog site:  rezpadre.blogspot.com

Take some time each day and click on just one and go through the meanings and the concordance references for each one:  Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Faith, Salvation, Word and Prayer

All of these are intrinsically bound up with the living and enduring Word of God - and they are the way that you prepare  -  you "dress yourself for battle" in this way!

Is there anyone here that thinks we're really NOT in a battle?  

I want to tell you that your worldview matters!  What you believe to be reality matters!  Is there a heaven and a hell?  Moreover, is there even a GOD?

We live in a day that questions those realities more and more - there is and will be more and more push back - even to the point of persecution ... yes, right here in River City!  It's going on now, as we speak.

Get ready.  Get your mind and your heart, your finances and your household, ready.  We pray, "Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus" -- but I believe we are in this for the haul.  It's what one writer called "a long obedience in the same direction!"

If we're ready now, we will be ready whether there is a "rapture" - a catching away as some believe, OR whether we are to stand in the midst of the storm on the ROCK of obedience to Christ Jesus and His Word.  However God wants to do it, we will be ready.

And THAT is the point of ADVENT.

Let's pray together:

Pray with me the very appropriate collect for today again:

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 for ever. Amen.  

Having Confident Faith

Pentecost 26
Nov 18, 2018
Fr. Phil Eberhart

"We are not among those who shrink back"

HAVING CONFIDENT FAITH


Have you ever wanted to just quit?   I don't know...  a sports team ...  a cooking class ... driver's ed ? !!

The remedial class you were in after you got your ticket?  

Or something more important than that?

Those who the writer of the Hebrews Letter was writing to were in that spot.  The Jewish Church based in Jerusalem had been under-the-gun for a long time.  This was written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, as had it been written later, that would have been the headline!  But we think it was close to that date and tensions, and persecutions were high.  The believers of Jewish origin needed some encouragement and sometimes a kick-in-the-pants to move on - to go 'higher up and deeper in.'  To not just quit the whole thing because it had gotten hard.

I think Jesus himself was fairly clear that this journey was not going to be a "walk in the park"  - his invitation wasn't to a 'rose garden.'  His invitation was, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it, an invitation to "come and die!"
oooooo, sign me up!

This morning I want to look at our passage in its context from the mid 10th chapter to the early 12th chapter, some very familiar pieces of scripture containing the "let us" verses I referred to some weeks ago, to the Hall of Faith and the opening verses of Heb 12 that we are so familiar with.

Open your bible if you have it, or your Bible App to Heb 10.

So the whole of Hebrews is moving toward this pinnacle in Hebrews 12:1-2, and chapter 10 is a major part of the ascent, kind of the last sheer face to conquer in the climb.   Throughout the letter, the writer has been taking the forms and rituals of the OT Law and the sacrificial system of the old way, and making comparison to the new way being offered by Christ Jesus - the new way that these Jewish Christians have already been initiated into through baptism, many probably on the day of Pentecost!

The old way of righteousness was through yearly sacrifice of "bulls and goats."  But it is apparent, because there was now a system (what Jesus came in to literally "overturn") that these sacrifices had no lasting effect - they had to be offered over and over and over, year by year by year.  But NOW, 10:9-10

And then he said, “God, I will be the One to go and do your will.” So by being the sacrifice that removes sin, he abolishes animal sacrifices[d] and replaces that entire system with the new covenant.[e]10 By God’s will we have been purified and made holy once and for all[f]through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus, the Messiah!  

And so we continue to follow the "therefore's"... and the "let us's"

10:19 begins this section of conclusions, I've spoken recently about  "The Bowl of Let Us"

Let us...
DRAW NEAR WITH SINCERE HEARTS
HOLD FAST OUR CONFESSION OF FAITH
CONSIDER HOW TO ENCOURAGE AND SPUR ONE ANOTHER ON

One more "therefore"...

don’t lose your bold, courageous faith, for you are destined for a great reward!   

[Heb 10:35 NASB] 35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 

As Oak would say, "There it is!"...  What the writer has been pointing us to the whole time!
And we have to ask ourselves the question, "where am I in this picture?"

Am I among those who may potentially lose my faith?

Do I need to heed the word of this letter?   Lord, are you talkin' to me?  ... You talkin' to me?

Yep, I think He is!  To you and to me and to all of us.

As we read this passage yesterday in the Men's group I was struck by some of the similarities and by what may be ahead of us for the church.  We have all felt some of the sting of our culture's bitterness toward Christianity, or maybe its toward "Church-ianity."  Even so, those who name the Name of Jesus are increasingly scorned and excluded in our culture.  We have not gotten to the point of shedding blood or death yet ... YET.

But the point of these passages are "Better get ready."  These are the promises of Scripture that we never quote!  In the west we largely have never had anything like this experience - not even a whiff of suffering, exclusion, or persecution.  But its coming, I think.

How can we be excluded from what almost the whole rest of Christendom is experiencing around the world?
How did our writer put it?

32 Don’t you remember those days right after the Light shined in your hearts?[s] You endured a great marathon season of suffering hardships, yet you stood your ground. 33 And at times you were publicly and shamefully mis-treated, being persecuted for your faith;[t] then at others times you stood side by side with those who preach the message of hope.[u]
34 You sympathized with those in prison[v] and when all your belongings were confiscated you accepted that violation with joy; convinced that you possess a treasure growing in heaven[w] that could never be taken from you. 35 So don’t lose your bold, courageous faith, for you are destined for a great reward![x]
Friends,
The whole point of the Hebrew letter and the whole point of this morning's sermon is that last line!
The line that comes immediately after it, after the chapter division is the very definition of faith.

Faith is... the substance - the confident assurance - of the things we hope for  AND
the evidence - the fingerprints we can see of the God that is - NOT SEEN.
THAT is the reason that the letter was written and the sermon was preached.

So What?
HEB 12:1-2
Therefore!!!!
Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnessess (martys) let us run the race that is set before us with confident endurance, laying aside that which so easily grows up around our feet and legs and hinders us! And FIXING OUR EYES ON JESUS, the Author and the Finisher - the starting blocks and the finish line - of our faith.  
Keep on keeping on.  The world we see is not the end product!  We and it are 'In Process!"  So keep on keeping on, no matter what comes our way.  Keep the faith. Run the race to win.

let's pray...

O God, you sent your only Son Jesus to make a way for us to come back into right relationship with you.  Help is in our weakness and fear, in our doubts and second-thoughts.  Stir up our hearts and wills, indeed.  Give us your grace, Father, to run and to win our race of endurance in faith.  To the very end.
This we pray in Jesus Name and for His sake,
Amen.