Sunday, February 14, 2021
Friday, February 5, 2021
The State of the Flock
Feb 7, 2021
Fr. Philip D. Eberhart, Rector
As I look back over this past year, I don’t know whether to cry or to shout. We’ve seen wave after wave of trials, challenges, injury, surgery, life-threatening illness, accidents, and that is before you factor in the worldwide pandemic! And that is just my personal life and this single church’s circumstances in the past 14 months!
So how do we characterize 2020 and look away from it to the future? The words UNPRECEDENTED and EXTRAORDINARY seem to have gotten a lot of air play in the past 10 months. We want nothing more than to look away from 2020 and glimpse a brighter, more ‘normal’ future, but we’re just not sure if or when that might appear. One thing is certain, a rehearsal of all the things that went wrong in 2020 is not the remedy for the malaise – so I want to take a few moments to expose some of the things that are praiseworthy in our life together and in the world we now “live and move and have our being” in.
Another word that expresses the lived experience of our church, as well as our planet, is SHAKING. Since 2000 we have been listening to the scripture from Hebrews 12 that warns of things that will be shaken, so that what cannot be shaken may remain. I sincerely believe that we are in the midst of that promised “shaking.” Our part in the midst of the shaking is to hold fast to that which cannot be shaken, The Word of God, and what the writer calls the Unshakeable Kingdom, which we are receiving from “our God who is a consuming fire.”
We must open our eyes – wake up – to see the world from the perspective of the One who created it all. We believe, or say we do, that God brought all that we see into being with the Word of his mouth. If we believe THAT, then much follows from that core belief. Nothing actually happens by “accident.” If God is sovereign – above all – then all flows from His Hand. We say as much every Sunday: “All things come of Thee, O Lord, and of Thine own have we given Thee.”
We are God’s possession, His People who are called by His Name. He takes that very seriously. Has since forever!! The fact is that God deals with the whole world on the basis of His dealings with His own people! 2 Chronicles 7 is the proof. A very familiar passage to us for about the past three or four decades! You know… “IF MY PEOPLE… “ and all that? I talked about it last weekend. We’ve been talking about it for 30 or 40 years here in America, but now is different. It actually matters that we, God’s People, obey this injunction – the life of the world depends on it.
I’ve talked this past year about what God is doing – a RESET and a REALIGNMENT of our hearts with His! Those realities are realized, as I said last week through Repentant Obedience. It’s not enough to just say we’re sorry – we’ve been doing that since mid-year. Repentance means to turn around and head a new direction. To actually make changes in the way we “live and move and have our being.” It means a change in our “ways and means.” It means a new way of being and a new way of doing. And these all must line up with the Word of Scripture in the Bible. Period.
So how is your “WORD QUOTA”? How deeply are we “abiding” in the words of Jesus and how are they “finding their home” in us? Troubled times have a way of driving us to that which is steady and tried. Nothing stands with the Word of God in that department. It is an anchor for the storms in our life; the anvil on which God fashions us, through fire and forge, into a “truer beauty and usefulness” for His Kingdom. It is truly the thing that is UNSHAKEABLE and what gives us and all inthe Kingdom of God stability. I hope that you have found the utility of a regular time in which you apply the disciplines of the “HAND” that we use to illustrate a full engagement with Holy Scripture – Hearing, Reading, Marking, Learning and Inwardly Digesting it. If you haven’t noticed, that BOOK is the centerpiece of our life and our worship. It points us to the Savior and to the Father in no uncertain terms, and it is the very useful Sword of the Spirit, used by Him to encounter us as we read, to equip us as we study and learn and to engage us in a dynamic partnership with Him in the World. The Word of God graces our lives in four ways: It instructs us; it reproves us; it corrects us and it trains us in righteousness. It plumbs the depths of our souls, revealing our motives, our thoughts and intentions; driving deeper than bone marrow, to the very center of our being.
This is the reason for the SHAKING. We must “come to ourselves” – wake up! – come to our senses, as God’s People. We have been wandering in a far country, too long feeding in the pig pen of the world’s ways and means. God is meaning to create some “face time” with Himself for us. He means to get our attention. And I’m convinced that He means to do it, for a reason. So what could possibly be the “reason for THIS season?” This has been a season of brokenness. Everything that could go wrong, seemingly, has! Things we never even though of have gone wrong! BUT GOD…
You’re going to hear in a few minutes the numbers for this year. You’re going to hear that, we’ve had some close calls, but we are all still here. Fr. Stanley in Uganda is the first Covid death in our worldwide Church family. WE thank the Lord for His protection. We thank the Lord that through all the separation of this past year, through all the social distancing … we are still together. We have worked overtime to remain so. Connected to one another by any means possible, personally, on Zoom, Facebook. These are realities that will remain with us for some time, if not permanently. We’ve discovered a whole wide world – one that we kind of knew about through our mission outreaches and international relationships, but now we can join a world-wide prayer meeting that is actually going on 24/7/365 through all of 2021! Satan loses… We WIN!
The day the world shut down, March 16th, was the launch of a new reality in the church. It is called THE 400 GATHERING. With a goal of 400 pastors and churches coming together in answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17, this movement is beginning to now have effect. We pray for one another and lay down our lives for one another – supply one another’s needs and partner with one another for the advancement of the Kingdom of God! It’s not about one church, but about the Body of Christ and His Kingdom in this world.
And that is the beginning of the answer to the “why” for this season. God’s purpose is to free us from our diversions, from our per-versions – to bring us through a con-version to His ways and will, to accomplish the vision of Jesus for the World, using us as His instruments. We continually look to Jesus, the Author and the Finisher, the Perfector of our faith. And He will set us in a place directly in the path of the greatest harvest of souls we can imagine – in fact beyond all that we can ask or imagine. That, I believe, is the big “why” here.
Rez is called into being “for such a time as this.” We have been placed on this Holy Hill for just this purpose; to shine as a ‘city on a hill’ with the light of Christ, our Messiah. We shine to those who are far away and to those who are near. We have been given a High Altar that holds a special place in God’s heart and His plan for us and for this city and region. We are an instrument of His Holy Spirit amongst those who are being called into His Kingdom.
Even now, as this season comes to a close and we anticipate being able to come back together in more significant ways, we look forward to times of refreshing from the Lord and to a release of the Harvest into the Church. For years we’ve talked about being an ACTS 2 Church and about the promise of a “netbreaking, boat-sinking” load of fish. God has promised us “OIL” that will come from unexpected places to keep our lamps burning and bright. He has more and more anointing for us, as we move more and more with HIM, into His purposes and destiny for Resurrection Anglican Fellowship.
I want to conclude with one of our prayers from the Ordination service:
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Venerable Rev. Philip D. Eberhart
Archdeacon and Rector
Resurrection Anglican Fellowship,
International Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America
Sunday, January 31, 2021
Fr. Phil Eberhart
Monday, January 18, 2021
1 Sam 3:1-20
1 Cor 6:9-20
2 We reject every shameful cover-up and refuse to resort to cunning trickery or distorting the Word of God. Instead, we open up our souls to you by presenting the truth to everyone’s conscience in the sight and presence of God.
5 We don’t preach ourselves, but rather the lordship of Jesus Christ, for we are your servants for Jesus’ sake.
6 For God, who said, “Let brilliant light shine out of darkness,”[f] is the one who has cascaded his light into us—the brilliant dawning light of the glorious knowledge of God as we gaze into the face of Jesus Christ.
Sunday, December 13, 2020
Sunday, November 29, 2020
Advent 1, 2020
November 29, 2020
Fr. Philip Eberhart
THE CHALLENGE OF WOKENESS
Welcome to the New Year, Church! I am sooooo looking forward to being OUT of 2020 that maybe I'm rushing it a bit.
From the title this morning, "The Challenge of Wokeness" you may think that this is going to be a political sermon... again. But let me allay your fears today and let you know that this "WOKENESS" is about an actual awakening that both needs to happen, and at some level, is happening in the Church, BIG C!
For many, many years I've preached this first sermon of Advent, on the same need and the same opportunity. The last words of our Gospel reading from Mark this morning say it all, "KEEP AWAKE!!"
Friends, the times that we live in today, what with all the stuff, the pandemic, the societal unrest, the riots, the wokeness, the political games ... all require of us that we live with our eyes wide open. It was said of one group in the Old Testament that they "knew the times in which they lived." Today that is perhaps the greatest gift we can ask for from the Holy Spirit, that like those Men of Issachar, we might know the times that we are part of and how to respond to them.
The command of Jesus to KEEP AWAKE is not just a random wish that the Church would be more aware of its sleepy state. The fact is that we've been lulled to sleep over decades, especially here in America, by the culture and by the very prosperity that we believe we deserve to enjoy! "In the lap of luxury" is a phrase that conjures up a certain picture of us being coddled and spoiled, like a new baby with three sets of grandparents who live within 20 minutes!!
We have spared ourselves no luxury! There are certainly pockets of poverty, and we help those who are struggling along the way, but the overall picture of America and wealth is that we are at the top of the heap, even those who are at the bottom of the American wealth pyramid, are in the top 1 or 2% of the world. Why do you think that the "huddled masses yearning to be free" are "teeming on our shores?" America is still the Land of Opportunity, of Freedom ... and of Sleepiness!
WOKENESS, in this sense, is a heightened awareness of the forces that are at work in our systems, yes it does mean awareness of racism and injustice, but it means a great deal more in this context. We are in a WAR. We, THE CHURCH, are engaged in hand-to-hand combat, just like the picture painted for us by Paul in Ephesians 6. We need to be awake, in full battle fatigues, and ready to engage as a team in the warfare of the spiritual world that is raging for our culture today.
WOKENESS here, is having our eyes wide open to the UNSEEN that Paul speaks about as he recounted his own battle fatigue to the Corinthians.
But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.
16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
Our WOKENESS is our understanding of what is real. Of the nature of the world we live in, of it's brokenness and need; awareness of our position and role as THE CHURCH; engagement with the purposes of God in the midst of the times that we find ourselves living in; AND an awakened WISDOM that comes from THE FEAR OF THE LORD. We must understand WHOM it is that we approach and deal with through Prayer, the power of our weapons of warfare, the need for the armor of His Righteousness.
WOKENESS means additionally that we are aware of our own weakness and lack of strength in this fight. THE BATTLE IS THE LORD'S! It has always been His and will always be HIS ALONE. We use the word JUST sometimes mistakenly in regard to prayer! "Well, all we can do is just pray." Never do that again!!!
Friends, in this challenging time, PRAYER is the primary Weapon of our Warfare! It is not something that is secondary - its our BIG GUN! Inside the Kremlin in Moscow sets a cannon that was fired once - its so big that the firing once, broke it. It stands nearly 15 feet above my head. That is the size of prayer, though not its effect!! Our big gun WORKS.
I carry a quote with me from Peter Kreeft:
"I strongly suspect that if we saw all the difference even the tiniest of our prayers to God make, and all the people those little prayers were destined to affect, and all the consequences of those effects down through the centuries, we would be so paralyzed with awe at the power of prayer that we would be unable to get up off our knees for the rest of our lives!'
So friends, this morning on the Church's New Year's Day, I challenge you to be WOKE! TO STAY WOKE. TO ACT AS ONE WHO IS WOKE! AND FULLY SO.
LET US PRAY:
#109. For Watchfulness Lancelot Andrewes
Thou, who with thine own mouth hast told us that at midnight the bridegroom shall come: Grant that the cry, “The bridegroom cometh!” may sound evermore in our ears, that so we be never unprepared to meet him, or forgetful of the souls for whom he died, for whom we watch and pray. And save us, O Lord. Amen.
#97. Preparation for Personal Prayer
Holy Spirit, breath of God and fire of love, I cannot pray without your aid: Kindle in me the fire of your love, and illumine me with your light; that with a steadfast will and holy thoughts I may approach the Father in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who reigns with you and the Father in eternal union. Amen.