Sunday, February 16, 2020

ACNA World Missions Sunday 2-16-20

The Season of Epiphany  is the yearly celebration of the coming of and the sending out of,  the Light of Christ.  Into the whole world as was God's will and plan all along.   This Sunday is World Mission Sunday across the Anglican church in North America.  

I think most everyone here is aware of our mission involvements around the world over the past two decades from our weekly prayers for our "partners in the gospel around the world."

A partner or sister church in NE Rwanda in Ngarama since 2002. Working on a building there that houses a congregation of 1500 and now is the hub of 6 or 7 other sub- parishes!  That partnership led us to the relationship with two young men who are now graduating and entering work with us we hope over the next few months with the Rwandan Hope Project.  A Medical worker and a business student,  named Olivier Welcome and Peter or Jean Pierre Nsingeminye.  Olivier graduated in November and will take his national board's next month and Peter who will graduate this coming November.   We also help one of our own sons of Rez,  Sam Katungwensi, the son of Fr Stanley & Anne Katungwensi.  Sam is a Masters student at Makerere University in Kampala,Uganda in
 Information Computer Technology. 

Along side these we pray for and support a pastor and family in Nazareth,  Israel...  Yakov (Jacob) & Ruth Dolinsky and Congregation Tsur Yeshuati in Upper Nazareth.   

We have supported Bible Translation in Russia and continue to pray for the work of the Institute for Bible Translation in Moscow.  Ask Al Throckmorton about the impact of that work on him and on Russia.
Thank you to Al and the men's group for great faithfulness over many years. 

Missionaries in N Africa, the Middle East,  and many other areas to numerous to mention recieved our prayers and donations over the years.   Your King Soopers and Amazon purchases are some of the fuel for these outreaches and initiatives.   And more is on the horizon,  both locally and globally. 

We've been focused on getting into and paying for this land and building for the past two years or so,  but the day is coming quickly where we will once again lift our eyes to the call that God has on us to engage with his world,  both near and far.

One of my favorite old hymns is entitled The Love of God!

The Love Of God

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell
The guilty pair bowed down with care
God gave His Son to win
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin

O love of God how rich and pure
How measureless and strong
It shall forevermore endure
The saints and angels song

When years of time shall pass away
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall
When men who here refuse to pray
On rocks and hills and mountains call
God's love so sure shall still endure
All measureless and strong
Redeeming grace to Adam's race
The saints and angels song

Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky

Frederick Martin Lehman | Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai
__________________

This is the WHY of missions!  It never changes!  METHODS CHANGE,  MESSAGE DOESN'T. 

We all know the verse by heart.  There are signs at NFL games and on NFL players faces!  It's the most searched for verse on Google ever!  WHY?  CAUSE IT'S SUCH GREAT NEWS! 

John 3:16 ...

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son,  that whosoever believes in him shall not perish,  but have everlasting life.  

 And who knows verse 17?

"For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world,  but that the world,  through him,  might be saved! "

Turn with me for a moment to 2 Corinthians 5.  Bibles are under the chair in front of you.  2 Corinthians, chapter 5, beginning at verse 14

I'm going to read from The Passion Translation: 
For it is Christ’s love that fuels our passion and motivates us, because we are absolutely convinced that he has given his life for all of us.

Skip down a few verses to 16a...

From now on,  therefore,  we regard no one according to the flesh...

Once again from TPT...
So then, from now on, we have a new perspective that refuses to evaluate people merely by their outward appearances. For that’s how we once viewed the Anointed One, but no longer do we see him [OR OTHERS] with limited human insight.

And now 17 -21

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he  is  a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to  be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

AND AGAIN FROM THE TPT...

And God has made all things new, and reconciled us to himself, and given us the ministry of reconciling others to God. In other words, it was through the Anointed One that God was shepherding the world, not even keeping records of their transgressions, and he has entrusted to us the ministry of opening the door of reconciliation to God. We are ambassadors of the Anointed One who carry the message of Christ to the world, as though God were tenderly pleading with them [BECAUSE HE IS]  directly through our lips. So we tenderly plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Turn back to God and be reconciled to him.”

[AND HERE IS THE MESSAGE WE CONTINUALLY SHARE !]
 For God made the only one who did not know sin to become sin for us, so that we who did not know righteousness might become the righteousness of God through our union with him.
2 Corinthians 5:18‭-‬21 

We talk a lot here about our Willingness  our Availability and our Obedience.  This is what THAT whole formulation is all about,  friends.   It's all about our going day by day into our every day lives with this motivation, this conviction and the overwhelming love of God in our hearts for others.  Just show that love to others and there's no head banging that is required!   

Just open your mouth and let them hear and see the Love of God in you!

Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky

Amen.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

2020 State of the Flock - Fr Phil Eberhart

State of the Flock Address

February 2, 2020

Fr. Phil Eberhart


As I write, I am attending to my mother in ICU and have seen, over the past 12 hours a miraculous recovery of capacity to breathe, awareness and some light at the end of the tunnel, for this crisis in her recovery from the fall she had in late December.


I want to thank you all for your prayers for her and for me and our family.  


I think that is where I want to start this year’s State of the Flock address!  Our church is an amazing place – can I say that? God is here and God works among and through us.  That’s not to say that we don’t have our challenges and heart-breaks, but God is with us and works through each one here in specific ways as we yield ourselves to Him and to His purposes.  That is really what this church is all about! That is really what CHURCH should be all about!


For years I’ve talked about how our church is living out the pattern from Acts 2:42-47 and that God will move through us if we are Willing, Available, and Obedient!  Those two things are the heart of our life together here at REZ. So I want to remind you briefly of those things again, with references to how we are doing those things in our life, both inwardly and outwardly in our community.


Acts 2:42 forms the crosshairs of our rifle scope – of our targeting system.  The four things are found in our Anglican Baptismal Covenant and come out of Acts 2:42:


Devoted attention to four areas:

  1. The Apostles’ Teaching / The Word of God / Scripture

  2. The Fellowship / Community life / Life Together

  3. The Breaking of Bread / Communion and Meals together, our Eucharistic Hospitality

  4. The Prayers 


These are the Marks of THE Church, of OUR Church:  Devotion to Scripture as the Word of God; Devotion to One Another;  Devotion to Worship and outflowing Hospitality; and Devotion to Prayers.


As we focus on these four areas, things have begun to happen and have come to a mature expression in our life together over the past almost 20 years.


  1. A “Real Presence” of God and The Fear of the Lord

  2. Signs and Wonders / Miracles of extraordinary power 

  3. A Radical Generosity and Common Life

  4. Daily Prayer and Worship Together

  5. Common Meals

  6. Community Favor, Outreach & evangelistic growth


We all know that we have come through an extraordinary time of change, from being a mobile “church in a box” to now owning a church building.  The timing, the finances, the favor, the almost daily miracles we’ve experienced in this past 27 months are a sign of what God intends to accomplish in us and through us on this holy hill.  As we put the finishing touches on the property and building this next spring and summer, we must also begin to focus on the why of God’s purpose and the what and how of His call to us as a congregation in this place.


God is sending new faces already and now the changes and renovation are beginning on the inside.  No, I’m not talking about paint and carpet, about candles and drapes or even stained-glass windows, but of the renovation of our own hearts and spirits, of our own lives, as we now must press into “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, the Messiah.”  Now, in the words of Paul, we “must take hold of that for which we have been taken hold of by God!”


THE FUTURE HOPE IS HERE


We began this process all the way back in 2004 and 2005 as we started a small “building fund” called The Future and Hope Fund.  Later in 2009 we put money in a “Loaves and Fishes” fund, again in hope of a future property. All of that money and more has now been applied – the Future Hope is here, and like the school boy who gave his lunch to Jesus, our eyes are expectant of the unexpected!  No one knew, except Jesus, what the result of that day was going to be. And in the year and more to come, I believe that we are going to see the TWELVE BASKETS FULL come home to REZ.


We have experienced the feeling of inadequacy that the disciples experienced that day – but Lord, what does “You give them something to eat” mean?  It would take us a year’s budget to just give each person one morsel! We are inadequate to the task! We have known that all along, as we looked at the 1.1 Million needed to do proof of funds, two Christmas’s ago – our first hurdle met and we prayed:  Then on Thursday morning, before Christmas 2017, the text came: 1.3 Million… CASH!


Almost 10 years before we had placed a stake of dedication under a tree at the entrance to the King Soopers store across the street, at the invitation of the then manager of the store.  It said: “I HAVE FOOD YOU KNOW NOT OF – MY FOOD IS TO DO THE WILL OF HIM WHO SENT ME, AND TO FINISH HIS WORK!” (Jn 4:32-34) Now in 2020, we are bearing the fruit of that dedication and living out its last phrase.  In this place, we are to “do the will of Him who sent us, and to finish His work!”


Over and over and over again, for two plus years, we have seen the hand of God provide our needs on almost a daily basis – certainly a weekly basis!  And now we are turning our hearts to be obedient to the Lord, as we pass out fish and bread – like the disciples of old in that desert place. The watched in amazement as the baskets kept filling up with pieces of fish and loaves of bread!  And joy began to well up in them – indescribable joy, at seeing the Hand of God at work. This is our joy today.

The miracle of REZ Anglican is not yet fully completed.  We’re still passing out the fish and the bread.

And we will continue in this work, until we see that, like the school boy, we’re going to end up with 12 baskets of fish and bread left over!  O God, give us some left overs!! Holy Left Overs!!


THE CALL IS NOW


We are in a season of fulfillment.  God is fulfilling His purpose for us and for His whole Church.  It is a time of Kingdom fulfillment and advance. We are being called to PRESS IN to all that God has called us to be and to do – notice the order there:  TO BE and TO DO. We’ve learned that our ways are not God’s ways. And so often, our speed is not God’s Speed. This year we reviewed the lessons we learned last year in GODSPEED.  God is calling us to BE SOMETHING before He is calling us to DO SOMETHING! This is where we start.  


Our BEING depends on Him first, and us second.  In David’s prayer of repentance, he prayed “create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me… uphold me with a willing spirit.”  Our prayer is first of all that God cleanse us of sin and uphold us with “willingness.”  It has to all start with God – if we start with us, we will be lost! All the grace is His and it is IN HIM that we “live and move and have our being.”  He is the one who gives us a willing spirit, a willing heart, to follow hard after Him and to press into all He has for us.


We move with Him as we move from Willingness.  But the greatest obstacle to our BEING IN HIM is our distraction and busy-ness.  We are simply too busy for God! Our schedules get in the way of prayer and devotion – we try, but our days start at 4 am – and the pressure of living in today’s culture is mounting almost daily.  One of the Word’s we got as a parish this past year said to us simply, “Many of you are weary! I AM NOT!” God is not weary as He moves forward with His plan for salvation in the world. God is not weary of our building process!  God is not weary of the world. He still loves it and still seeks those who are lost in it. Our willingness and our availability – making room for God to work in and through us – are the keys to what God is intending to accomplish through this church.


As we attend to our willingness and to our availability then The Spirit of God takes us, like an offering of bread and wine, and gives us to others that He is inviting into His family.  Like the loaves and fishes, like the bread and wine of Eucharist, we are blessed, we are broken, and we are given, as a people to the world. As we experience this in our daily lives it looks just like the disciples being sent out ahead of Jesus!   We are blessed to be a blessing – so we bless with His Peace those we are sent to. If we are available to Him, we are available to those He sends us to. Availability isn’t just spiritual its physical – its real time actual physical presence with those that God sends you to.  It may be hanging out with them, buying a meal or a coat, it may be emotional support, it may be just friendship and hospitality.

Whatever it is its availability!  If we’re available we are going to see needs.  If you see a need, you’re in the game! Because the next step is meeting that need.  As we are able and as we rely on God’s ability (the ability part of avail-ability), we are called to meet needs – real needs for real people.  Its there that we encounter our need to obey. The disciples needed to obey Jesus when He said, “You go feed the people.” They didn’t have resources to match the needs.  They didn’t have means or methods figured out. They only presented to Jesus what was at hand. “Five loaves and two fish! But what is that against such a need as this?” We are always going to be in NEED of God’s intervention, if we are doing the stuff God wants us to do!  He won’t do anything that requires us to have LESS FAITH!


God is calling us to BIG THINGS.  How do I know that? Because GOD IS BIG and HIS PEOPLE are called to do BIG THINGS – things beyond ourselves – things that only God can do!  Things that according to Paul are “beyond all that we can ask or even imagine, in our wildest dreams.” This is why we say, at the end of the day, “The Kingdom of Heaven has come near you.”  Our Big Thing is the furthering of the Kingdom of God among us and through us into the city, the State and the Nation. “His Kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven!”  


TWELVE BASKETS FULL


Great things have been prophesied about this Church, not the building, but you the people and the work that God is going to bring forth in and from this place.  They include words like 


OIL -  There is OIL (Anointing and Supply) that you do not know about coming your way.  The week after we heard that word, we received $10,000 in our PayPal account! It is both “fiscal oil in our lamp” and “oil of anointing in ministry” – coming to us as we bring vessels to let it fill!


PRESENCE -  God’s Presence is here in this place, on this Holy Hill.  He has set it apart for His dwelling place and people are being drawn to it like moths to a flame.  We are carriers of His Presence, not only here but everywhere we go, in the community and in the world.


EAGLES -  There are going to be ministers and ministries released from this hill into the city and into the world.  Those who will learn to wait on the Lord in order to rise up. And the eagles will be both young and old, male and female, as God pours out His Spirit on them.


HEALING -  A hallmark of the early church and of the church throughout the ages, where the Spirit of God as active and moving, was healing.  So it is today, and we have been prophesied a movement of healing like those of old. Days long healing services are coming – they are in God’s heart.  Can we avail ourselves to His ability in this?


The IN-BETWEENers  - God has said that He is sending those who are to fill in the gaps in this church body.  We are going to see those coming who are to fill in the gaps – to make the Body whole and able.  We will be blessed with new people, some who are coming back to the Lord and some who have never been His before.


The JOHN MARK’s -  God has called me to restore those who have been hurt by ministry, who have been set aside, as John Mark, Peter’s young cousin, was by Paul.  I am to be a Barnabas to those who God presents to me, an encourager, a healer and one who sets them back in ministry. [In fact it was John Mark who became Peter’s “scribe” in the years after he was “thrown away” by Paul and that narrative formed the core of our Synoptic Gospels, the Book of Mark.]


You may be weary, God says.  I AM NOT!


Friends, the State of the Flock does not depend on us; not on me, or you or the staff or the board, or the finance committee or the construction workers.  It depends on God. The State of this Flock depends on God and His Power. Like the school boy who gave up his lunch, we are simply watching as Jesus blesses, breaks, and gives the offerings we bring.  It all depends on Him and His ability. Our part is to ask for a willing heart, to make ourselves available – to avail ourselves to His ability, and then to be obedient to His direction, step by step.


We are living out the vision of Jesus for His Church – a group of friends, committed to His Word, devoted to one another, worshiping together, extending hands of hospitality, healing and hope to our neighbors, all undergirded by prayer of every kind.  That is the State of our Flock.  


In Jesus Name and by His power and grace.


Fr. Philip D. Eberhart +


Fr. Phil Eberhart +

Rector