Monday, December 12, 2011

Homiletix II

Here's the text from a "topical" sermon by Greg that was to be 10-12 minutes long and the topic chosen was Ascension day.

Opening Collect from BCP, 226
O Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen

Moving... in my 29 years, I've had the begrudging joy of moving 25 times. There's packing to be done, forwarding addresses, setting up some system of hauling your stuff to a new place (which hopefully you have already established as your destination), and with all the annoyances, my all-time least favorite part of moving was always saying Goodbye. Goodbye to the friends I have made and the people who have impacted my life; Goodbye to the places I've grown accustomed to and come to rely on; Goodbye to schools and routines of life that offered some kind of consistency in our obviously tumultuous life. Goodbye everything I've known and Hello abandonment
At the Ascension of Jesus, he says goodbye, too. But instead of the heartache of goodbye, we may never meet again and your whole life is being uprooted and everything is changing for the unknown... We (and the disciples) thought we'd lost Jesus once, we said goodbye the day that he was crucified and buried, only to have our faith and hope and love renewed by his glorious resurrection! but now he's saying goodbye again. Jesus says, I go to prepare a place for you, and I am coming quickly. We are never forsaken nor abandoned. But why does he have to Ascend? Over the next couple of weeks we are going to be talking about the Ascension and Session of Jesus, but today, focussing on the Gospel Reading, we are going to focus on the WHY of the Ascension, Why did Jesus have to go"?
Jesus Ascends to the Father in order to
Bring our real humanity into communion with the Trinity
Commission His Body to the ministry of proclamation, and
Dispatch the Holy spirit to empower and give life
Post-Resurrection, Jesus is revealing himself to people left and right. The disciples are gathered in a closed room talking about his latest revelation on the road to Emmaus through the breaking of the bread and by how their hearts burned within them as he open the Scriptures to them.
All of sudden, Jesus appears! Out of nowhere (ex nihilo?) and says, "Peace to you!" Naturally, they respond, "And also with you", right? No way... where there should have been a, "And with thy Spirit", there is a frightened, "Ah!! A Spirit!!"
They immediately doubt the real humanity of Christ and Jesus takes great pains to belabour the fact that he is still very human - appealing to their senses "See my hands and my feet...touch me, and see. A spirit does not have flesh and bones as I do. Have you anything to eat?" Why is it so important to Jesus to proove his real humanity?
Because Jesus Ascends to the Father in order to Bring our real humanity into communion with the Trinity Jesus, bearing our real humanity is our Mediator.
1Tim2:5, "There is one mediator between God and man, the MAN Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all"
Barth (Dogmatics in Outline, ch 18) "Christ is where God is and as bearer of our humanity is our Representative in the place where God is, and in the way in which God is"
The death and resurrection of Jesus secures our salvation and it s through the Ascension that we are united to the One, True, and Living God by the real humanity of Jesus. Gregory of Nazianzus summarizes this point well (On Apolonarianism), "That which has not been assumed has not been healed, but that which is united to the Godhead is saved"
Our Hope and confidence in the finished work of Christ is grounded in the reality that he ascended to the Father in order to bring our real humanity into communion with the Trinity. We are the branches of the Vine of Christ because he bears our real humanity to the Father in the Asension.
Jesus Ascends to the Father in order to Commission His Body to the ministry of proclamation
Luke 24:44-48

Prior to his ascension, when it seems as though he's saying goodbye, just as Jesus is sure to remind his disciples of the reality of his humanity, He makes sure to remind them of the gospel message they are to proclaim once He is seemingly gone. That all the Law, Prophets, Writings, and all of Scripture speaks of the story of Jesus Himself, "That the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead. And that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be all nations... you are WITNESSES of these things" You have received the story of the salvation of your souls... you have been healed and sin has been dealt with and you are commissioned to tell this story to the whole world. This ministry of proclamation, which began in Eden and continued through Moses and the Prophets and John the Baptist, and the disciples doesn't cease when Jesus goes to bring our humanity into the community of the Trinity. No, Jesus Ascends to the Father in order to commission his Body to continue that ministry - He goes away to build the Church.
Eph 4:10-12, he ascended far above all the heavens that he might fill all things...and he gave apostles, prophets, teachers, seminarians... to equip the saints for the work of ministry and for the building up and maturation of the Body.
We are given a task because Jesus Ascends to the Father, though Jesus says, I go, you are now my witnesses, Go make disciples of all nations... He also says, I will ask the Father and we will send you another helper who is with you and dwells in you... we are also given the power to do his commandments because
Jesus Ascends to the Father in order to Dispatch the Holy Spirit to empower and give life In the Ascension, Jesus Brings our real humanity into communion with the Trinity and Commissions us to the ministry of proclamation and then He says
Luke 24:49, Behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you..stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high..." Jesus doesn't say goodbye that we may be separated from Him, no we are closer than ever before by the Holy Spirit who fills us. We are not left alone because Jesus has moved...because just as he mediates our humanity to the Father, He also mediates the divinity of God to His commissioned Body by clothing us in the Holy Spirit
Athanasius said, "[Jesus] became as we are, that we might become as he is" We are empowered by the Holy Spirit, not only to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins in word, but in our very being, as united to the gracious, omnipotent God who descended to become Incarnate and Ascend again so that we who by faith know and love and serve him may have real hope and faith and live in true love by the indwell of the Holy Spirit!!
Jesus opens up the lines of communication between God and humanity by bearing BOTH in Himself and mediating each to each by his Ascension. He goes away, but he goes to prepare a place for us and
Ascends to the Father in order to
Bring our real humanity into communion with the Trinity
Commission His Body to the ministry of proclamation, and
Dispatch the Holy spirit to empower and give life


So, we thought you all might enjoy some of our sermons from this year of multiple sermonizings.

Click the link below to hear Noel's sermon on the Feast Day of Clive Staples "Jack" Lewis, November 22nd.  If you so desire, the reading that the sermon is based on is 1 Peter 1:3-9, read it if you want to follow along a little better. :)  Enjoy!

Living Hope

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Goodbye, Summer

Yes, we are well aware that we have pretty much waved goodbye to summer and are well into Autumn.  But, hey, we're having days in the 70s this week, so excuse us if we're trying to ride out the last waves of summer!  School is going well though this is our first week of heavy assignments.  But thus far, it was has been mostly full of resource collecting and reading, which is great! 

As our pensieve i.e. memory-holder, we figured it would be good to leave a tribute to some of our summer activities (except our brief stint on dog-sitting). 

Earlier this summer, a fellow seminarian friend of ours, who also makes his own chain mail (sweet!) approached a few of us to see if we'd like to play Dungeons and Dragons.  None of our original crew had ever played but we all love the exercise of imagination, dragons and communal activities.  So, we embarked on a little adventure together to find 2 adult children of a local barmaven who joined an adventuring party but never came back.  Noel adventures as a dwarf cleric healer and protector who throws a mean waraxe and Greg as an edifying, mischievous gnome bard who holds in his lyre the courage and morale of the whole group.  Here's some shots of us battling a bugbear (an annoyingly powerful goblinoid who also turned out to be a chef...who made excellent adventurer soup)!

 And these are Noel's pretty dice!  Oo-oo! Aa-ah!

We actually did not get to go into Pittsburgh quite as much as we had hoped and didn't get to go to any of the movies in the park nights or anything, but we had fun anyway.  But, we did purchase a Groupon (if you don't know about it, you should!!! for a place called the ToonSeum, as the genius name suggests it is a cartooning museum.  And over the summer, they had an exhibit of superhero comics.  So, we thought we'd check it out.  We talked to a couple of the artists who work there and ironically, this exhibit had been scheduled long before the third Batman movie was scheduled to film in Pittsburgh but how great for their marketing that it ended up that way!

 And then we got some peaks at the new Gotham City! (Check out the license plate)
 Camouflaged batmobiles!
 Gotham Cathedral?!
 Noel worked here all summer and though parts of it were hard,all worth it.
Yes, that is a nuclear power plant in the background, ah, the scenery! :)

And a quick jot to San Antonio to spend some time with the familia, especially this little (though not so little anymore) guy!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Fun & Funding (not mutually exclusive!)

So in our mad efforts to make the most of our summer financial opportunities since wrapping up J-term classes, we spent a couple weeks mid-July dogsitting in the town ten minutes up the river. It’s a good thing that Noel already knows this dog up close and personally from my acquaintance with his family, because he’s named Mozart, which might have led me to expect a dog that weighed less than my husband. It would have taken a name like Wagner or Tchaikovsky to start giving me a sense of the ginormity of this dog. As it was, we fortunately knew ahead of time that Moe is a hefty guy. His tongue is as long as my arm and runs like a faucet, and he overheats pretty quickly, so much of our quality time was confined to the kitchen where the drool puddles could be easily mopped up. He’s been trained to keep his, um, messes, in one small part of the yard, a worthwhile investment of training time and expense, for sure. Indeed, he’s been well-trained overall and can’t help that his front and his back don’t always coordinate.

This picture does not do Mozart's magnitude justice.

Our other work time is spent barista-ing at Starbucks and lifeguarding at the YMCA outdoor pool (under the cloud of the nuclear power plant!). (Noel is now known throughout western PA for her water-treading skills, an event she won at the YMCA lifeguarding competition - woooo, that's my wife! -G.) Even though we’re working a lot, we get some fun in the neighborhood with our peeps here and there:

Scott plays tennis. Which means he plays badminton too. Look out, Greg!

Our agent has asked us to make an appearance via Skype in the Chicagoland area on Wednesday, August 31 at 7 pm in Wheaton. Thanks to those of you setting this prayer time up as we launch into Year 2. If you want more info on that gathering, email us.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

We Made It!

I think we've both been waiting for some really exciting things to happen to us so that people might want to read our blog.  And here we are...2 months later :)  And on the one hand, yes, we survived our first year of seminary!  Thank you, thank you!  And yet, it is a month beginning with the letter "J" and when it is one of these "J" months, we have what is called fittingly called, "J-Term".  In order to stay on track with a three-year program (and if we don't, then well...we'll be here for-e-ver [think Sandlot]), we must take 5 classes per semester.  In order to accomplish this and stay sane...and by sane, I mean gainfully employed, sanitary and fed, we usually take a "J Term". 

This "J Term", Noel is taking Hebrew Exegesis which is a fancy way of saying translating several passages of the Old Testament, the whole book of Jonah, learning more syntax than she ever wanted to know and getting all sorts of fodder for hip sermons on the OT.  It's fun!  She thought she wasn't going to be able to venture on this little project with the same professor and teacher whom she previously ventured through Hebrew II with, but God aligned things marvelously (as He's wont to do) and so there she is.  Every morning for two weeks, you can find her studying Hebrew or chatting nonchalantly with her Hebrew buddy, Ben.  The prof told us not to sit by each other, but secretly I think we're his favorites :)  Lift up Noel that her memory may prove vast and capable in the area of Hebrew and that it would stick and that God's Truth would be deepened in her gut as a result of her study of the Old Testament in Hebrew.  (She's thankful for already learning some interesting tidbits!)

"J Term" holds Evangelism and Church Planting for Greg.  He has been reading a few books in order to prepare book reports due prior to his class which starts next Monday.  None of these books, as of yet, have been all that great and would probably appear mundane and uninsightful to most of you, so we will not recommend them here.  We are both hoping for his sake that the reading material improves and becomes less formulaic (and for Noel, too, because she has to take it sometime in the next year).  A good book on evangelism and church planting is hard to find, so it seems.  Chatting with a friend the other night, we thought that perhaps this class needs some good missional church, how-to-church-plant-and-be-missional kinds of books.  Ironically, we are feeling quite a lack in the "How To" area in most of our classes.  Like, where there's a will and a theology, there must be a way, right???  Well, we believe so...or else what kind of theology is it, really?  Anyway, that's a different soap box for a different day.  If any of you have any suggestions on good church planting or missional church books, please let us know!
And pray for Greg as he is in class all day every day next week that he would learn what it is that God has for him.

When not in "J Terms" ie most of the summer, we can be found at our various jobs.  Greg is still at Starbucks, though he was just relocated...AGAIN.  But, it's all good.  He's at a slow, giant cafe store now that is a great hang out and lets him engage with customers as he likes to do (which Noel doesn't understand at all :) ).
Noel is a manager at an outdoor pool in Midland, about 35 minutes northwest of where they live.  Thus far it's been both a challenge and fun.  Last week, she had a good conversation with Grandpa Jim, as she calls him, about the woes of western PA and the seeming epidemic of very young moms (and dads).  More on that later, but it's people like Jim that make Noel's days out in the sun, yelling at kids and saving lives all worth it....well, that and the wicked tan she's getting!  Just kidding, pray that the both of us would live the joy of the Lord at work and would be lights in dark places.

Thanks for reading, Pfiles.  We regret that we will not be traveling anywhere much this summer and so will not get to see many of you.  But, please do come see us if you're over our way!  And let us know if we can be lifting you up as well.  We wouldn't have made it through our 1000th day of marriage and our first year of seminary without your love and' real, we mean that. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

March Madness!

Sorry if that just manipulated you into looking at this post!  It's not so much about basketball as it is some of our meanderings during Reading Week where we were able to visit some of the folks in Chi-town.  We were bummed not to get to see all of you but we hope to be able to visit again soon and to pick up with some of you whom we were unable to see!  We miss the area where we spent so much of our lives.  But I'm glad that we are still going back and we pray we will continue to get to do so.

Maybe you don't all want see photos of yourselves but it is our pensieve (please see Harry Potter references if you are looking at this dumbfoundedly or just take our nerdy words for it) as well and we cherish these memories and want to be able to withdraw the watery, ethereal substance of anamnesis into the forefronts of our reflections, so here we go:

anticipating a good SAGA run!

Best College Salad Bar in the U.S. 8 years and counting!

nothing reminds me of the good ol' days in SAGA like their abundant gourmet mayonnaise section.
yes, it made all of those days in the ugly BGC worth it (not that I disliked the job, just the building!)

SAGA group date!

Amigos Locos, more like it...

The LOVE!!!!!

Worst...and yet best celebration of Pi Day ever

Dinner with our hospitable hosts!  We miss you all dearly.  Except Scott, we see him all the time.

Because there must always be a goofy portrait to accompany a serious one.
It is pointed out that Noel's presence is represented here by the Guinness bottle.

A Palm Sunday blessing

Look! Our names are appearing in our Church bulletin as real seminarians! Woo hoo! We are so thankful for this church that we are a part of...yesterday was truly a beautiful Palm Sunday and they are a church who loves God and sees Him at work all the time and choose to be thankful and pray for all of His body.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Shriving!

Noel wrote this blog many years ago (remember when we all had Xanga's?) to first introduce a lot of her Resurrection friends to an old tradition of Pancake Suppering for Shrove Tuesday.  This year, we are not responsible for creating our own familial occasion but rather will be fellowshiping with the others at our church over pancakes.  Woohoo!  Most of you now probably know about this tradition now, but I thought it'd be funny to review something written ages ago....

"ok, so I am going to introduce you all to the Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) pancake supper tradition of the Catholic and Anglican (and probably other) churches as well, I'm sure but hey, that's what I know. I was shocked and dismayed to find out that hardly
any of you had heard of, let alone participated in one such tradition...all you non and new anglicans out there!

As we all know, today is the day before Ash Wednesday and the inauguration of Lent. We all usually give up something for Lent...often foods or the have countless number of saints before us. And back in the day, Christians would give up eating things fatty, eggs and dairy stuff, but in order to not be wasteful (yay for stewardship) they would eat all of the things that would go bad in the forty days of Lent on tuesday night. And it just so happens that pancakes are comprised of these aformentioned ingredients the Christians were giving up for Lent. Thus,
the pancake supper tradition and while some have taken this to absurd extremes-races,
olympics, even changing it to an enchilada dinner in a church in New Mexico, etc...
Consequently, Mardi Gras comes from this eating all the fat business, getting it's
name "Fat Tuesday".

Etymology lesson of the day: "shrove" comes
from the old christian practice of "shriving" which literally means "taking
off". And it was marked as a day of confession before entering Lent as well
as of feasting before entering this penitent season.  

For you Church History buffs out there, here's a link to some interesting legends on traditions of pancake suppering:

And here's a prayer from our Eastern Orthodox siblings for this day of shriving.  We'll be praying this for you all and ask that you pray for us as well that the Lord will show us the cruciform way through which He transforms us into His likeness this Lent:

My dear Saviour who is Love, fill me with Your love that embraces and holds not back,
that accepts and not condemns, that forgives and not retaliates, that stretches out and not stagnates.
Make this Lent a positive time, a growing time but also a reflective time to see myself as You see me.
It is only when my soul is stripped and naked that I can begin once again. Help me to shed all my wrappings this Lent so that I may stand before You as You know me. Amen and Amen.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pfile Phileo

So, this is like 2 weeks overdue but we have a Valentine's Day shout out to make for the love that was shown to us from some Chicagolanders.  Once upon a February, a decently young lady ventured to stick her head out the door of her warm-ish Pittsburgh abode for the sheer thrill of checking the mail...truly a bright spot in the often grey and freezing weather but the screen door was stuck shut.  Hmm...what's a girl to do?  Look down, of course!  And lo, and behold:

A Box o' Love!
Love in the form of...


Microfiber Towels

...and fruit roll-ups and chocolates
and gift cards to our favorite places!!!
 and redemptive coffee
We apologize that the above yumminess...yummy as in awesome chocolate chip cookies did not make it to the photo shoot and were consumed within a matter of days after the box was opened. 
Fear not, they were consumed with love :)

Here's some of the fun we've had so far with the Valentine's treats! ;)

Thanks for the LOVE.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

where you'll find us

So, we're now into our third week of classes or so and we thought you might like to know about our classes for this semester.  Classes do occupy about oh, let's see 75% of our time and about 98% of our mental energy (the rest given to things like studying Whedon's "Firefly" and how to get to the next age in Myst III).  But, we're having a good time and though this semester is much more of a doozie than last semester, we have a lot of fun things we're learning, researching and writing on.

Plus, we thought in case anyone calls or wants to get in touch with us, you can see where we're at and why we're not answering!  Though, this of course, does not include sleeping, working, etc.  We also have morning and evening prayer and are required to attend the one prior or after if we are on campus for class.  It's great.  Noel just officiated for the first time last week and did well, she even found a cassock about the right length and she didn't trip once!

Greg's days
Monday morning: Pastoral Leadership -pastoral care and servant leadership
*he almost always works from 2-10:30 pm on this day
Tuesday afternoon:  Christian Ethics - all things methodological and Biblical re: Ethics and morality
Thursday morning:  Medieval and Reformation Church History (lovingly dubbed "Mr. Church") - fabulous class on the church both on "the continent" and in Britain from about 500-1650ish
Thursday afternoon:  The Gospels - that is, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

Noel's days
Monday evening: Hebrew - learning Hebrew, quiz every week, learn at least 10 new words per class, very difficult
Tuesday afternoon: Christian Ethics - Read Hays "Moral Vision of the NT", it's great
Thursday morning:  MR. Church 
Thursday afternoon: The Gospels - learning the whole book of John for a final exam? priceless.

Hope your days go well also.  Greg works at least 3 8-hr shifts a week, some combo of M-W-F-Sat/Sun.  Noel is doing odd jobs as they are presented to her.  Please pray for Greg as he is sleeping (at noon) while I publish this blog as he now has the cold that I had last week and is quite under the weather.  Thanks, dear 'pfiles!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

just another Superbowl Sunday

That's right, we're stickin' to our guns on this one.  Well, sort of...I guess we'll mostly be watching for the commercials but this was how happy we were two weeks ago when the Bears still had a shot.

This is dedicated especially to all of you with whom we had our regular Bears game small group fellowship ;)
We miss you and wish we could be with you and at least criticize the commercials and laugh at Clay Matthews' hair and watch Benny R eat turf over and over.  And please pray for us because well, Pittsburgh is not joking about being "Steelers nation".  

This is a direct quote from church this morning (where everyone was decked out in their finest black and yellow):
"Alleluia, let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia.  Go Steelers!"

May the Lord be with all of us who loathe the Steelers but are stuck here in Purgatory, every one.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2010 in a nutshell

Hola Pfiles!

Winter “Break” has come and gone, and your favorite Seminarian Duet is ready to start singing odes and odes to you. 2011 has found us determined to get organized, with God's help. To that end, we're getting ready to put a bow on 2010 and call it a success. We'll tie that off with some shots of our Christmas (see below, wonderpful photography by Noel), which was spent in snowy Ambridge, minus a great blitz to Maryland on Christmas Day where we got to hang out with Greg's mom (hi mom!), and a spontaneous family reunion with Grandparents, and Aunts and Uncles and Cousins of yore...good times, so good to see everyone and catch up after so many crazy years!

Our first semester was challenging in terms of getting back into “school mode” and finding a healthy and doable balance of work and class. Financially, we held up okay... many thousands of thanks to the Pfiles out there who, anonymously or not-so anonymously supported us last semester, we sure needed you and felt so blessed by your support. Also to those who stayed in touch, what a refreshing joy to hear from you (or see you!)... please keep us in the loop as we loop you in as we are able (and organized!). The end of the semester gave us a chance to look back and reflect and marvel at the hand of God en accion. Refreshed and rejuvenated and inspired to get organized, and with yet another class already under our belts (thank you Extension Ministries for Jan Term wherein we can take a full semester's worth of class in 5 wild days of learning!) We sat under Bill Taylor for our Intro to Missions: best Missions class we've ever had. We have the privilege of continuing our friendship with Bill (Moody grad, what-what!?!) and working on a Top Secret project which we will keep....a secret.

Since we're getting so organized, be on the lookout for more and better communication on our end (like regular e-mail updates and invites to RSS feeds and Facebook and Skype prayer sessions and all the wonders of computer-aided telecommunication, muhahahahahaha!!!!) Boy howdy, that's a good coffee pot we got for Christmas! With the way it keeps coffee hot and delicious and flowing like rivers of caffeinated goodness, coursing through my veins... my eye is twitching, I should probably cut back.. but Lent is still many weeks away

Blessing to you Pfriends, thanks for reading and writing and arthimetic-ing(?). We love you dearly and look forward to staying in touch this organized 2011!

Fiber-optic Christmas Tree! 3 ft tall and an adequate temporary replacement for the one we may have left in the Isemans' basement in Chicagoland

She's not faking that smile, Pfiles! Snuggie is a pfreezing grad's student's best friend

"The cave is collapsing!  This is no cave."

Highly Recommended reading for the living and undead alike

DahnTahn Picksberg

Monday, January 24, 2011

some more incomplete works

 On a personal note:  Noel dedicates this "essay", an assignment for Early Church History, to write an article, as for a church newsletter, on the practical implications of the doctrine of the Trinity, to the good people of Holy Trinity Anglican in San Antonio, TX (not least of which to her parents who dubbed it thusly).  Thank you for worshiping God as He reveals Himself; as the loving Trinity.  Noel is very excited to worship with you one day soon.

Greetings, church! As we approach Holy Trinity Sunday, let us imagine together our ordinary days profoundly lived in the light of the One God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit whom we worship. What do you imgine when I say that? Do you think of an apple? Water? A flame? While these analogies can be helpful in certain matters, what I want to address here will glean little help from them lest, as Gregory of Nazianzus says, “we be frenzy-stricken for prying into the mysteries of God” (Guy, 280). So, let us proceed in humility. Because we take God at His word that He has revealed Himself as Trinity that this should have an impact on our daily lives. But, perhaps, we might ask, I know we affirm, pray and worship the Trinitarian God on Sunday morning and in morning and evening prayer, but I’m still fuzzy on the details, can you fill them in? I hope St. Augustine might be of some help to us on this. He says,

“has redeemed us through His own blood, giving His soul for our souls,
His flesh for our flesh, and has also poured out the Spirit of the Father
for the union and communion of God and humanity, imparting indeed
God to human beings by the Spirit, and on the other hand, attaching
humanity to God by His incarnation, and bestowing upon us at His
coming immortality durably and truly, by means of communion with God.”

This is a good synopsis of God’s working out of our salvation in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as well as through the indwelling of the Spirit. What do we see that can help us in our daily living? How does this effect how I go to work tomorrow or hang out with my kids tonight?
Well, first of all, we can trust in the mediation of Christ that Augustine spoke of, both His mediation of Himself to us and of our humanity into the life of God. Isn’t that amazing? That sends shivers down my spine to think that God did that! We receive this mediation through the Spirit, moment by moment. And friends, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom! 2 Corinthians 3 goes on to say that in this freedom, we reflect the Lord’s glory and are being transformed into Christ’s likeness by the Holy Spirit. And He is with us always as Christians. So, engage Him at all times of day with confidence, ask Him to join you to Christ’s likeness and to live into those good works He has for you. Ask Him to help you really love and care for Jim in the cubicle next to you whom you are sure has a fingernail growth condition for as often as you hear his clippers being used! Be assured that the triune God is working in your workplace, at your home, in your grocery store, at the post office and He invites you to participate with Him as a minister of reconciliation in the world. So, repent for those times you have been unwilling to participate and ask Him to help you understand Him more and to help you be more like Him.
Another means of practicing our Trinitarian faith is through remembrance. Friends, we as Anglicans, stand in a long tradition of those who have chosen to remember and celebrate God’s events in history. You might notice that much of our liturgy involves this recollection with gratitude, nowhere noted more than in the Great Thanksgiving, Eucharist. By remembering the salvation trajectory, we can know Father, Son and Holy Spirit for willing together to sustain the creation even after sin entered, for destroying the power of sin and death, and restoring us to new life in communion with God, as Augustine said. In all things, thank God for the ways in which He does these things in your life now, recall them with others, use them to tell others the Good News. Even ask the Spirit to help bring these things to mind as part of practicing this Trinitarian way of living.
Last but certainly not least is that our Trinitarian God is within Himself love and relationship. The source of all our love, ability and yearning to relate is in Him. He is known in relationship and it is for life in Him that we are saved. When Jesus prays, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know you sent me and loved them even as you loved me,” He is not just saying something nice and comforting. He is expressing the reality that the triune God desires for us, that the Church be Christ’s body, one with Him and the Father. After Jesus ascends, He sends the Spirit of Truth to work in those whom He loves the reality of unity that is the same unity between the Father and the Son. How do we know this? Because the Spirit is also one with the Father and Son as God! So, we are, in a profoundly real way, being bound together in love as members of Christ’s body, the same love that is found in the Trinitarian God of the Universe. So, love in freedom! Practice our Trinitarian faith with risky love through hospitality, gift-giving, gift-receiving, prayer for one another, asking the Spirit to help you see others needs and a way to help, carrying others burdens, befriending the lonely, and all of those things that Jesus did in the Gospels in the power of the Spirit. We are living into our call as the royal priesthood when we welcome others into loving relationship just as we were welcomed into the loving relationship of the Triune God by the mediation of Christ worked out in us by the Spirit.


We will explore more of these themes and perhaps imagine a few more as we explore the vastness of the doctrine of the Trinity in our Christian Ed series beginning in Pentecost. All of this here has been just a tantalizing morsel of what is to come and at the least you’ll learn some new cool words to impress friends and family! We will meet together in the hope that “we, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

some Noel works

Noel Collins Pfeifer, Reviewer

Making Room: Recovering the tradition of Christian Hospitality
by Christine Pohl

Pohl begins with a historical excavation into the ancient Christian tradition of hospitality and finds it to be a quintessential part of the Church’s identity. The material is well-researched and well-presented. She gleans strength from her treatment of Scripture, tradition, reasoning a plausible re-shaping of it in contemporary culture and being shaped by the experience of historical and present day hospitality ministers. Pohl writes of hospitality as a deeply Biblical practice that God even forged into the Covenant with Israel through their “identity as aliens and related responsibility to sojourners and strangers.” (27) They even saw it as a place of sacramental meeting with God. Pohl is also critical of many aspects of today’s particularly Western context that have and may continue to impede hospitable churches and homes. These include fear, busyness, loss of a sense of Church as family and the valuing of individualism. However, Pohl has not lost hope and continues to explore the possibility of reconstituting hospitable attitudes and practice with the help of God and the wisdom of those who have previously taken up the mantle. No conversation on hospitality would be complete without defining “stranger”, the art of welcoming, the dignity of persons, the power of recognition, communal meals, multiple Church or family co-operation, and the importance of laughter. She also outlines many of the challenges inherent to this ministry and those nitty, gritty, honest fears and questions that may very well keep people from ever even attempting hospitality. Pohl does not pull punches or minimize the loss of this hallmarking tradition, but it is clear that she believes in an educational-conversational approach rather than simply making Christians feel guilty about it. She speaks as a prophet in, for and to the Church. Overall, it is a vastly helpful book for those who recognize that our society is truly yearning for belonging, and that the Church is in a unique position to offer genuine belonging and love through open hearts and open doors. It is a highly accessible read, enabling to the hospitable of heart and exhortative to those who are not gifted but consider hospitality a valuable tradition to be resuscitated in the Church. For further practical help, she includes some brief information from existing hospitality ministries worldwide and an extensive bibliography. Making Room is an important asset to this Biblical discipline’s rediscovery and incorporation, which Pohl would say, and I would agree, is paramount to the proclamation of the Gospel and the symbol of our eschatological hope of feasting together at the wedding banquet of the Lamb.