Have you ever wondered about the Prayer of Humble Access that we say weekly right before we come forward for Communion? There is a great article about its meaning and why we say it as we prepare to come to the altar each week which you may find here...
Our mission statement at Saint Barnabas, as you likely know, is to be disciples who make disciples of Jesus Christ. It is taken from Jesus’ final command in the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:16-20. This calling is the very reason that we, or any church for that matter, exists and all we do points back to it. Sunday continue to fulfill the command as we commission two from our midst to go out on mission over the next several weeks.
Kristi Heffron is joining Dr. Glen Petta and a larger team through Sharing of Ministries Abroad (SOMA - somausa.org ) on a mission to the Anglican Church in Myanmar for two clergy leadership conferences - one on intercession and one on music and worship. At the request of the local bishop they will be encouraging, equipping, and ministering to the leaders of the churches in Mandalay as God further builds up the Church.
During the prayers after the Peace we will invite them forward and go through a brief liturgy as we pray over them and send them out from our midst, making each of us a part of this mission as well. It is great visual reminder to us of Jesus’ calling to make disciples near and far and to build up the Body of Christ. Do keep them in your prayers over the next several weeks, as well as their families while they are away. We look forward to the stories of what God did in and through them upon their return, and we are grateful for the reminder and high calling to go out in the name of our Lord to make disciples of all nations!
Twelve seconds of silence is an awkward eternity on television. Amr Adeeb, perhaps the most prominent talk show host in Egypt, leaned forward as he searched for a response.
“The Copts of Egypt … are made of … steel!” he finally uttered.
Click here to read of this amazing story of forgiveness.
Today we celebrate our nation’s Independence and the blessing of living in the most enduring model of democracy and freedom in the known world. Many have sacrificed much, even at the cost of their own lives, to maintain this freedom for us. We give thanks for their sacrifices, and for those who now serve, to maintain freedom for the sake of those who call this great nation home.
As Christians, we know there is no greater freedom than that given in Christ, and we live in continual celebration of the peace and joy secured by His sacrifice for each one of us. In giving up His life for our sake, it fulfilled the original justice of God that was broken through sin and rebellion. The 'war' with sin and death was won in Christ Jesus, making all who believe in God through Him free to be and live as God designed, no longer enslaved or oppressed by sin.
This tenant was ardently held by the Forefathers of our nation. It was near to their hearts. They purposed that the truth of freedom in Christ be embedded into the DNA of this nation, and being one of the chief reasons for its formation. However, sadly, this is not promulgated nor taught as readily as it once was. And this responsibility falls to us as Christians. We are called to remind the world, and our part of it, that true freedom can only be found in Jesus Christ. A freedom from destructive habits and behaviors that rob meaning and purpose from our lives and to find fulfillment that comes by living as God deigned.
We are called to echo our Forefathers unabashedly in championing the Truth in our private lives and in our nation. George Washington wrote, "While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian."
May we echo such liberty in our lives, so that this great nation may know that the freedom we have found here is only a glimpse of the greater freedom we have through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Glory to God who power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Ephesians 3:20,21
The verses above are one of the concluding portions of Scripture for Morning and Evening Prayer in our tradition. They have been on my mind as I reflect upon all that God is doing at Saint Barnabas since the beginning of this year. God has been at work in and through our church in far grander ways that we could have every imagined.
Since the beginning of this year we have seen quite an increase in attendance and baptisms. I imagine you have noticed the church is full most weeks. That is a result of the fact that our Sunday attendance has not dipped below 100 with the exception of one week (when we had 94 present) in nearly 10 weeks! As a result, we have seen roughly a 20-25% increase in average Sunday attendance from this same time period last year.
But wait, there’s more! On Sunday we will have another set of baptisms, which will mark a total of 7 baptisms since January (and we have a few more planned for later in the year). To put that in context, at the halfway mark of the year we will have exceeded our total number of baptism for last year (which was 5). To give a bit more data, in 2015 we had 3 baptisms with only 2 in 2014. What is so exciting beyond the numbers is the fact that the baptism are not just infants, but teens and preteens who are asking about how to accept Jesus and often tugging at their parents to be baptized (as is the case of our pair this Sunday)!
You may recall that we had an rather ambitious goal of reaching and retaining 20-25 new families this year, and thus far God has brought in 7! God is truly at work in our midst, as a result of our partnership, prayer, and hearts that seek after Him. I am so encouraged by what He is doing and wanted to share my excitement and joy with you, as we look to next fall and what He calls us to do in the coming year. We have some incredible things in the works and I am overjoyed to be on this journey following Him with you at Saint Barnabas. Thank you for your partnership in the Gospel and continue to uphold your leaderships in prayer as we look ahead!
By Dr. Greg Popcak from Patheos
This weekend is Fathers’ Day, so I thought it would be good to take some time to remind us all how important dads are. Check out these great dad facts! (Teaser: I saved the most surprising fact for last!)
1. Fathers’ interaction with babies (engaging in cognitively stimulating activities, emotional warmth, physical care) reduced their infants’ chances of experiencing cognitive delay
2. Children whose fathers are involved in rearing them (“sensitive and responsive fathering”) fare better on cognitive tests and in language ability than those with less responsive or involved fathers.
3. Fathers who are involved in their children’s schools and academic achievement, regardless of their own educational level, are increasing the chances their child will graduate from high school, and perhaps go to vocational school, or even to college.
4. A fathers’ involvement in children’s school activities protects at-risk children from failing or dropping out.
For more click here.
On the heels of Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate all Persons of the Godhead on Trinity Sunday. Although the celebration of Trinity Sunday dates back to the twelfth century in Anglicanism, its origins are much earlier.
In the fourth century, a priest named Arius believed that Jesus was a created being, thus denying His divinity. His beliefs subsequently denied the Trinity as well. Unfortunately, he led many astray with this heresy, resulting in the persecution of orthodox Christians. However, a faithful Bishop, Athanasius, stood as Arius' chief opponent. He championed the orthodox view of Jesus and the distinct nature of the Persons of the Trinity. Doing so resulted in his exile. However, even from afar, he remained a faithful pastor, bishop, and theologian. It took time, but Truth prevailed in the Council of Nicaea, as Constantine gathered all parties to address the divisive issue. From that Council we received the Nicene Creed, which we say weekly, affirming both each Person of the Trinity and their role in salvation history.
In the centuries to follow, prayers, hymns, and Christian liturgies developed emphasizing the Trinity. Eventually, in the tenth and eleventh centuries, the Sunday after Pentecost became a universally observed time to celebrate the Trinity in the Divine Offices. In England, however, it became a principle feast day through the petition of Thomas Beckett. He was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162 AD on the day. Later, in the thirteen century, it became a universally established feast day in the church calendar.
On Trinity Sunday we recite the creed attributed to Athanansius instead of the Nicene Creed. Although it highlights the same tenants found in the Nicene Creed, it likewise serves as an important reminder of our history. In spite of various trials that assault the Faith, the Truth always prevails in the mystery, that we as Christians proclaim of the Trinity. You may find the text here.
Today marks the final event in Jesus' life on earth, when He ascended back to the right hand of the Father in heaven. It is, however, far more than just an event. For Jesus' ascension denotes completion, fulfillment, and victory. As He returned to His rightful place in glory, He brought our humanity before the throne of grace. As with all of His life and ministry, even this final moment is about us. Gregory of Nyssa noted, "He who for our sake became like us in order to make us his brothers and sisters, now presents to his true Father his own humanity in order to draw all his brothers and sisters up after him."
The ascension of our Lord not only is a mark of completion, but also a preparation. He goes before us to prepare a place for us and stands as our advocate before the Father (John 14:3 ; 1 John 2:1). The story is far from over. Today marks the turning of a chapter, and the celebration of what is to come. For as we recall Jesus' rising back into heaven, we are reminded that we, who place our faith and trust in Him, will likewise be raised to glory.
As we anticipate this Final Day, we know that we are not just bidding our time. For Jesus' ascension was far from a reminder of what awaits believers on the day of Judgment. It likewise meant that the Holy Spirit could descend upon all humanity (Joel 2:28). Cyril of Alexandria explained, "It was most fitting that the sending of the Spirit and his descent upon us should take place after the departure of Christ our Savior. As long as Christ was with them in the flesh, it must have seemed to believers that they possessed every blessing in him; but when the time came for him to ascend to his Heavenly Father, it was necessary for him to be united through his Spirit to those who worshipped him, and to dwell in our hearts through faith."
Ten days after His ascension, the Holy Spirit descended to lead us into all truth, guide us into holiness of life, and continue God's redeeming work upon earth. As the Spirit of God lives in us, we are not only transformed daily into the likeness of Christ through our submission to Him, but also the world around is transformed through us. As we daily surrender and obey God, He is able to work more fully through you and me to restore all of creation. Thus, our role is not merely one of preparation for that Final Day, but active participation for it.
Today, as we celebrate Christ's ascent, we are reminded of these things. We give thanks for what Jesus accomplished for us, as we continue to surrender and serve Him until we see Him face to face.
Can you believe it’s almost summer? I am still adjusting to the fact we are in the month of May and it is almost over! Another school year ends in a couple of weeks, we celebrate Labor Day in a few days, and then summer will be upon us. It always seems like a sprint to June with a deep breath to follow on the other side when year end obligations and activities begin to taper off.
In the seasons wherein we persevere through long days and full schedules we look forward to times of rest on the horizon. A spiritual principle may be found therein too. God gives us grace in the busy seasons, but also purposes that we find rest in Him and hide away in His presence as well. The challenge is not filling our calendars with other obligations during such times!
Consider taking a retreat this summer, setting aside even a half or full day to study or have time in prayer. I’d love to assist you in finding resources, locations, or retreats or workshops. Find times to allow the Lord to pour into you what is needful. Make such times a priority as they sustain us in the busy seasons and allow us to have something from which we can give in ministry to Him and others.
Summer can be as busy, if not more so, than the school year if we are not careful. Be intentional this summer, and press into the Lord. When we have seasons to be built up in Him it sure makes the busy seasons more peaceful!
He can no longer have God for his Father who has not the Church for his mother
- Saint Cyprian
Mothers reflect the heart of God. Through them we more fully comprehend God’s love, protection, and desire for us to be the best version of ourselves. The selfless attitudes of mothers, their undertaking of thankless tasks, and the concern for the well being of their children give us a glimpse into the vast heart of God for all of humanity. A heart of love that ultimately sacrificed everything for us in the person of Jesus Christ.
As we honor our mothers on Sunday, we are reminded of who they are called to reflect. God wants us to be gathered to Himself just as any mother does her children. He loves us unconditionally, and desires that we grow, thrive, and flourish as we seek Him with our whole heart.
Such growth occurs in the context of the household of faith, just as it does in our familial households. It is for that reason that Saint Cyprian noted long ago that we cannot pursue or hold God as our Father apart from the household of faith. We learn, are nourished, and grow up into spiritual maturity in community together as our identity is secure in whose we are and the direction and purpose we have in this life.
God purposed the family as a means by which we more fully grasp His love and care of us. It provides context for us. As we honor our mothers this Sunday we are called to give thanks for them and pray for them in this vital vocation. We recall that the life they give, care they provide, and love they show are part of God’s design to help us grasp His heart for us all as reflected in His bride the Church.