Sunday, March 29, 2020

Fr Phil - Seeing what God is doing

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic we are all under orders to "shelter in" - stay home with family,  stay away from other people,  wash your hands,  disinfect surfaces.   We're trying to minimize the spread of the pandemic and the loss of life.  We have no idea the scope of the orders or the timeline.  So we are obedient.  We're all getting a bit stir crazy,  some are getting lonely,  many are fearful and none of us know all that's going on here.  

What I want to address this morning is how can we see what God is doing here?  I believe God uses circumstances such as these to work His work. And we're the People of God. That means that we're in a relationship with the living God... He's our God, we're His People!  That means something in these times ... all the time actually!

I was struck when I saw our reading from Ezekiel for today.  Those verses were the roadmap that God spoke to me at the very beginning of my journey together with this church,  back in the day... summer of 1996!  St George's was on its last leg.  Bishop sent me in as a shock to the system -- as a ventilator! He yelled Clear! And shoved me through the door!  And God did a miracle! 

Ezekiel 37 was my roadmap! 
The place was dry and dead,  dead and dry... very dry!  I was called to enter in to that reality, to "walk among the bones."  Then he ask me what I believed about this church... "Can these bones live? " it's an overwhelming question!  'LORD,  you alone know!" This thing was above my pay grade and I needed to get that straight!  Val's favorite question was "Whose deal it's this,  anyway? "

Then God said Speak the Word, ... Prophesy!  Whenever you speak do so from an open Bible! We handed out Bibles for free,  put them in our pews for the first time - paid for by my parents!  I had one elder lady there tell me, " I have a stack of these at home, but you're the first person who ever told me to read it! "  prophesy to the bones,  declare the Word to God's People!  That's my charge. 

And then things began to happen.  The Vestry came to our house for 12 weeks of The Alpha Course.   Transformed them! Then they invited the church and led the groups!  We began to see the bones coming together - excitement,  noise,  messiness,  Holy Spirit was moving. 

And then God said Speak to the Spirit! 
Prophesy to the Spirit,  come!  Come,  breathe on these slain,  let them live again!  And the Wind blew!  Healings began happening,  people were filled with the Spirit,  God's Spirit was the gossip around the church!  Did you hear?  What happened to so and so? 
Those were fun times!  God,  please do it again!

RESURRECTION has its roots in that revival.  And God is using these days to do a wider work in the Church,  big C, and the culture.   How can we see what God is doing now. 

After St George's had gone from 30 to about 150 in services,  the culture around us in the larger church was becoming an issue.  We, in lent of '99, studied the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation.  "Let him with an ear, hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches! "  I think we're there again! 

We were shown a vision of a wave crashing between the Twin Towers in New York City,  summer of 2K.  About 13 months before 9-11.  The wave is both "judgement and revival! "  for those not ready it's judgement,  for those ready it will be revival!"  

In that time we were also given to study in Hebrews 12, especially about the Lord's discipline of those He loves and the coming 'shaking' at the end.   Things are certainly being shaken today and it feels like a tsunami wave has hit our country!  Is this that?  

Let's "open our eyes,"  as we pray from time to time,  "to see God's hand at work in the world! "

God uses famine and pestilence when His People get forgetful!  Look at 2 Chronicles 7:13! Not an oft quoted verse!   "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people..."  If My People will...

Humble themselves...
Today is a designated day to fast and pray in repentance for the sins of our nation.  Nehemiah 9 is the model.  National repentance... something we've never seen.  We've talked about it but never seen it.  Now it's the time! 

Pray...
There is a great prayer in that chapter by Ezra, the high priest under Nehemiah.  Take some time today to read it.  Take some time to pray it! 

Seek God's Face...
The Aaronic blessing of God's people asks that God lift His Face upon us.  Do a study of God's face in scripture and then our face!  What happens when the two meet?  2 Cor 3:17-18 says this...

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit."

James likens the Word to a mirror, reflecting who we really are back to us.  We are so forgetful though!   Refresh your time in God's Word during these days of "pause."  Prayer is pausing with purpose. 

And finally Turn, ... the purpose of the pause is to press a "reset" button in our lives.   Start anew.  Let Him Renew Your Mind,  washing it and us by the Water of the Word.   

I'll do everything I can "from a distance" to help that to happen in our life together.  Until we're able to gather again and beyond let us observe to do according to all that God has said, and God will give us "good success."  

Let's pray
O God,  you made the heavens and the earth, yet you are intricately involved with the details and affairs of our life today.  Move us to hear, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest your Word to us, that we may be freed from those things we cling to other than You.  Hear our prayer, O Lord, and change our hearts to be made in the image of your Son,  Jesus Christ our Lord,  in whose Name we pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Connection During COVID-19

March 24, 2020

Dear Friends,

One of the big challenges, along side staying healthy in these days, is staying connected to one another, especially for our family at REZ.  I wanted to give you some pointers along the way in our new reality of video calls, streaming live feeds and the like for our meetings and services.  I hope you know that we are working harder now to stay connected than we ever have before!!  Perhaps that is what the "silver-lining" will be after this is all over.  God is always at work in and for His People, and now is no exception, - in fact it may be more evident to us in many ways, very soon!  So we pray!

MEETINGS & SERVICES
We, after a week of using these platforms, have opted for the ZOOM video platform to do the main body of our meetings and services.  On Wednesday evening and Friday evening at 7 PM we are hosting Bible Studies.  Wednesday we are studying the Book of Philippians, and on Friday we are studying the Tabernacle in light of our own Anglican Worship for two more weeks.

Each of those are on the ZOOM video meeting platform, you can access by phone or on your laptop or desktop computer.  We have a paid account that allows up to 100 to join us and the meeting can go for up to 24 hours!!  That will cover us for a while.  You may get ZOOM from your provider website (APPStore or Google Play).  Once you have it on your device all you need to do is click JOIN A MEETING and put in REZ's specific number:  437-034-3593.     Or you can come back here to join any REZ Zoom Meeting and simply click here: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/4370343593

On Sundays we will also run a live-stream on our Resurrection Anglican Fellowship FACEBOOK page, for those who want to join us, and it will be recorded there.  Readers will be able to join in and do their work, by joining us on the ZOOM platform.

If anyone has challenges in hooking up or downloading these tools, PLEASE call Fr. Phil and he or another "techie" will guide you through to success!  This call is always better made the day or week before you try to get on a meeting!!  We can do some zoom calls as trials, we've already paid the fee!

INTENTIONAL CONNECTIONS 

We are working on other ways to connect with each other.   We are thinking of offering Daily Office times (Morning Prayer, Noonday and Evening Prayer, even Compline)  If you have an interest in helping or participating in such online events, please respond to this email and let us know in what capacity your interest lies.

We are hoping to create a "Buddy" system, especially for our elder singles.  We want to be checking in with one another daily, and be able to sound the alarm for one another if needed.  Also we are hoping to care for one another in real ways, with help picking up groceries or prescriptions if needed.  Again, we will rely on you to BUDDY UP in the next few days, and to advise us of your partners.  Please respond to this email with the name of the buddies who are going to commit to one another for this time.  If we don't hear from you we will be calling!!

God is using this crisis, as He does with all things, to work the work of His Kingdom!  There is an exponential increase in Prayer across the world, in unity among churches and pastors, in help being offered to one another and to our neighbors, and in the compassionate work of God's love, coming through his Church, now dispersed outside the walls of our buildings!  


A NOTE ON GIVING

Concerns have been voiced, that when we don't meet, we don't give!  I think we have ways to get around that, and I want to encourage you to continue to give faithfully, since the work of the church (and the bills of the church) will go on during this time!  There are several ways for you to give:

ONLINE:  We have DONATE buttons on our website (www.rezanglican.org), on my blogspot (rezpadre.blogspot.com) and there are fundraising pages on our FaceBook page during this time.  The FaceBook giving is free (no fee to us) and the regular online giving has a 3% fee that is attached.  We would appreciate it if you would add that 3% on your gifts if you use those portals.  I've included all the links here for you to give online.  

BY MAIL:  You may also want to use the mail service and mail checks to REZ, PO Box 2127, Centennial, CO 80161-2127.  If you want to drop envelopes at the church building, the mail box on the front of the church is locked as well and secure.

We thank you (Val and I and the Finance Team) for your faithful support during this extraordinary time.


HOW LONG, O LORD?

The big question on all our minds is How Long (I added the O LORD)?  That is an unknown quantity right now, because we are just now coming into an understanding of the severity of this pandemic.  The numbers are doubling about every three days and they expect it to peak in the next 3-4 weeks.  If you do the math, we are going to be "sheltering-in" for another month or so potentially.   We have planned to continue services for Holy Week:  I will have palms that people can get (outside the church on Saturday) and we will wave them to each other on Palm Sunday (10 AM),  we will continue with a teaching on Eucharist on Maundy Thursday (7 PM), a traditional Stations of the Cross on Good Friday evening (7 PM) and the regular service of Resurrection at 10 AM on Easter Morning.

We are trying to gear up for sustainability for the long haul, and hoping for a short race!!  But know this, when the quarantine is over we will all come together for a REAL Easter Service with the Bells, Whistles, Horns, Keys, and whatever else you can bring to make noise!!  I am anticipating a great RESURRECTION, on that day!

In the mean time, we pray that you are safe and sound; that you will continue to connect with us and with each other.  

Fr Phil+

Fr. Phil Eberhart, for the Staff and the Board of Resurrection Anglican Fellowship

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Lent 1 - The Anatomy of Repentance

Lent 1
March 1, 2020
Fr Phil Eberhart 

The  Anatomy of Repentance
Ps 51 as a model prayer 



Did you ever wonder how, after all that King David did just in one instance with Bathsheba,... how God could still refer to him as "a man after My own heart!" ??  I've wondered that. 

How do you get that name in spite of all he did?  Granted, he was a great king,  a valiant warrior,  not a bad songwriter and musician,  but how do all those weigh in the balance against sexual intrigue and immorality,  then cover up and eventually murder,  of a man who was exactly the opposite of David,  brave, faithful and loyal to the very end!  ... to both his wife and his King! 

Turn to the song David wrote,  the incredible poem of repentance and let's examine it a bit more closely. 

Let's look more closely...

Vs. 1-4  David dives right in... there is no small talk here,  no if's, and's or but's in his approach to God. 

It's an appeal to God's grace and mercy.  David knows that on his own merits he doesn't have a prayer! But because of what he knows of God's love,  His lovingkindness - His unfailing love - he makes his appeal begin there.   He begins with God's nature of love, God's history of Grace and Mercy,  from beginning to end it's "according to your lovingkindness,  according to the greatness of your compassion...  you are justified when you speak and blameless when you judge."  David says YOU'RE RIGHT GOD! YOU'RE RIGHT! 

Vs. 5-9  The reality of the issue

BEHOLD 
   1.  This is who I am!  My DNA is sinful!  From my mother's womb!  From the moment I was born I've been "in sin."

   2.   Yet you designed me to be different and require it even now! In my hidden parts, - what was knit together in my mother's womb (Ps139) -  in that hidden part You will make me know wisdom.  

David knows that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.   And so that's where he begins his appeal. 

Vs. 7 through 9 are the prescription,  the antidote!  These are the specifics of his request for God's intervention for David...

Purify me with hyssop - David hearkened back to the Passover and all the cleansing rites from the Torah. The use of hyssop is as old as the Jewish people.

I will be "whiter than snow!"  God's invitation to us through Isaiah later would be to come and reason with Him... though your sins are as scarlet, they will be be as white as snow."

Make me to hear joy and gladness.

This isn't a pleasant experience.  Probably why so few actually do it! 

Sometimes the discipline of the Lord feels like he's broken our bones.  David was a shepherd first.  And when a lamb would get wayward,  go astray habitually, the shepherd would break its front legs and carry it around his neck until they healed. 


The picture of Jesus as the shepherd we're all familiar with,  had a lamb in such a position.  No one talks about the back story!  Here David refers to that practice. 

Heb 12:6. "The Lord disciplines all those He loves... v. 11... so that we can share in his holiness ... the peaceable fruit of righteousness. "

David cries out to God to Hide your face... blot out my sin and iniquity. 

And then the prayer becomes detailed and this is the heart of the request if God.   We sang these verses just a few moments ago...

1.  Create in me a clean heart.  David knew the problem and Jeremiah later tells us it's our heart... it's desperately wicked.  It's like stone according to Ezekiel.   It has to be made new.  Re-created!

².   Renew a right Spirit within me.  We must be renewed by The right Spirit!

3.  Do not cast me away from your presence.  David knows it's here that the answer is found.  It's in the temple, in the presence of God.  At the table!  Here. 

4.  Do not take your Holy Spirit from me!   A desperate cry.   Our cry!   God,  send your spirit to renew us. 

5.  Restore my joy.    The joy of my salvation.  There is no feeling that can compare with being forgiven! 
The weight of the world comes off your shoulders.  It's amazing...
Amazing grace!  My chains are gone!  I've been set free! 

6. Finally,  do this work day by day.. Lord,  uphold me with a willing spirit! 
Even my willingness has to come from God  ... maybe especially my willingness!

THEN...  what happens? 

3 thens... 

Then... Testimony... teaching of the Ways of God and subsequent salvation.  Every day God was adding to their number those who were being saved! 

Then... Praise!  Sounds of singing!  More songs from Poet David!  Don't you wonder how many of the Psalms came after this? 

Then...  Restoration.   The right order of righteousness and the sacrifices of God are restored.  The temple worship is renewed and in order.  All is as it was designed and created to be.  All is whole. 

Let me once again issue the invitation...

I invite you in the name of the church to the observance of a holy Lent...

We have some left over ashes if you were not able to be here on Wed evening.