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:
The Apostles’ Teaching / The Word of God / Scripture
The Fellowship / Community life / Life Together
The Breaking of Bread / Communion and Meals together, our Eucharistic Hospitality
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.
A “Real Presence” of God and The Fear of the Lord
Signs and Wonders / Miracles of extraordinary power
A Radical Generosity and Common Life
Daily Prayer and Worship Together
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 +