Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Collect for the First Sunday of Advent



Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty, to judge both the quick and dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever.  Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer as given by John Wesley to the people called Methodists)

Friday, November 18, 2016

General Assembly Resolution Modification

Just a note for those who are following my resolutions for next Summer's General Assembly.  I have modified the fifth reason for my resolution (below) on The Superintendency and Ordination by including references to Paul's letters to Timothy.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

An Invitation to The Wesleyan Pattern of Prayer and Fasting

The following explanation of the "Wesley Fast" comes from World Methodist Evangelism (a part of the World Methodist Council). 

As a member of the Order of the FLAME, I have participated in the Wesley Fast for years.  I have found it to be of such significance that we included it in the constitution for the Wesleyan-Anglican Society.

If you do not currently have a regular pattern of prayer and fasting, I encourage you to join with Methodists around the world in the Wesley Fast!

Hear this invitation from World Methodist Evangelism:


The Wesleyan Pattern of Prayer and Fasting

Fasting is a significant part of the Christian experience. Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days and taught his disciples to fast. First century churches fasted twice weekly. John Wesley encouraged those in the Methodist Movement to fast and pray.
In more than 130 countries, the Wesleyan/Methodist family joins in the same weekly fast which John Wesley observed most of his life: going without solid food after their evening meal each Thursday until mid-afternoon each Friday. This time of fasting is focused in prayer on the vision that those who follow Jesus in the company of the Wesleys would be empowered to become channels for the transformative power of the Holy Spirit.
Our world desperately needs the healing, hope, and salvation offered in Jesus Christ. You can become part of this important movement by joining us as we fast and pray weekly for Holy Spirit power to share the good news so that the world may know Jesus Christ. 

Thursday Evening Prayer
To you, O God, we offer the coming day's devotion of prayer and fasting. We thank you for the example of Jesus. Grant that we may die to ourselves. Make us new in Christ. Feed the starvation of soul, of thought, of will, and after the quiet rest of sleep; open our mouths to praise you in the morning. Through Christ your son, our Light and our Strength. AMEN 

Friday, November 11, 2016

John Michael Talbot & "The Ancient Path"

About two and a half weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear, in person, for the second time, John Michael Talbot.  For those unfortunate folks who don't already know John Michael . . . you've gotta' get to know him!  You can find his website, here.

I was first introduced to John Michael by reading a piece from a bishop in the Charismatic Episcopal Church (as I recall), who talked about his journey toward the ancient liturgy.  He made mention of all of these guys who shared this journey and how they would all listen to John Michael's music.  It was just a mention, but it caused me to look up who this guy was who had influenced others who were, like myself, drawn toward the ancient liturgy.  -  I am so glad I did!

It was probably just after its release that I picked up John Michael's Simple Heart CD.  We were on vacation, as I recall, and it was a stressful time for me.  (It seems that I have a lot of those!  This is, in part, due to my convictions about the Wesleyan/Anglican liturgical and sacramental commitments and trying to live those out in what has too typically been a non-liturgical/sacramental setting.  -  Some who read this blog understand well the frustrations that I am talking about.  But . . .)  -  What a blessing this CD was and has continued to be over the years!!!

John Michael has released about 55 albums over the years.  I only have a fraction of them (about 17, I think).  Simple Heart remains a favorite of mine, and I find myself listening to it often.

During this last concert, I "branched out" and picked up one of John Michael's books: The Ancient Path: Old Lessons from the Church Fathers for a New Life Today.  I'm only 64 pages into this 194 page book, but already, like his music, I am loving it.

Thus far, he has shown the nature of spiritual "fathers" in the Christian Church.  I think that this is something that people often leave out when writing about and reading the Church Fathers, but it deepens for us their writings, their lives and their significance to our lives and faith.  -  Of course, this is also helpful for many who are not a part of a tradition that addresses their clergy as "Father," and who view it with suspicion due to Jesus' instructions about such titles.  -  (As a related aside: I've never particularly liked it when people have referred to John Wesley as "Father John."  I've thought that they were imposing a contemporary title for contemporary Anglican priests, upon one who never used the title and who lived in a time when Anglican priests did not use the title.  However, after reading this part of John Michael's book, I see the appropriateness of this title for Wesley [even if many who have used it have not!].)

This morning I posted a two paragraph quote from the book on Facebook.  (And John Michael commented on my post!  How cool is that!)  -  This quote focuses on the nature of the Church, salvation and the sacraments.  I found it very much in line with the ecclesiology that I have come to hold as I have grown in my commitment to Wesley's Anglican liturgical and sacramental theology.

I trust that many of you will resonate with what John Michael wrote:

     The Church, in fact, was the ordinary means of salvation, established by Jesus, and it applied  
     salvation by means of the sacramental mysteries, also established by Jesus. Three thousand were
     baptized on Pentecost (Acts 2:41), and their life afterward was centered on Eucharist: "the
     apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Acts 2:42).

     That is the same Church I encountered in the works of the Apostolic Fathers. They shared Saint
     Peter's conviction that "baptism . . .now saves you" (1 Peter 3:21) and Saint Paul's belief in the
     Eucharist as a communion in the Body and Blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). I encountered
     the ideal harmony between personal salvation and reception of the sacraments as a Spirit-filled,
     life-giving personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
 

Friday, October 28, 2016

General Assembly Resolution Concerning the Ritual for the Lord's Supper


THE SACRAMENT OF THE LORD’S SUPPER                                                               802

                                                                                     
 

802. THE SACRAMENT OF
THE LORD’S SUPPER

 
            The administration of the Lord’s Supper may be introduced by an appropriate sermon and the
            reading of 1 Corinthians 11:23-29; Luke 22:14-20, or some other suitable passage. Let the 
            minister then give the following invitation:


            The Lord himself ordained this holy sacrament. He commanded His disciples to partake of the bread and wine, [emblems of] His broken body and shed blood. This is His table. The feast is for His disciples. Let all those who have with true repentance forsaken their sins, and have believed in Christ unto salvation, draw near [and take these emblems], and, by faith, partake of the life of Jesus Christ, to your soul’s comfort and joy. Let us remember that it is the memorial of the death and passion of our Lord; also a token of His coming again. Let us not forget that we are one, at one table with the Lord.

            The minister may offer a prayer of confession and supplication, concluding with the following
            payer of consecration:

             Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, who out of Your tender mercy gave Your only Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption: hear us, we most humbly beseech You. Pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us and upon [Grant that, as we receive] these Your creatures of bread and wine, and grant that, as we receive them according to the holy institution of Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, in remembrance of His passion and death, we may be made partakers of His most blessed Body and Blood. [the benefits of His atoning sacrifice.]

            We are reminded that in the same night that our Lord was betrayed, He took bread and, when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Likewise, after supper, He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

            And so, [M]may we come before You in true humility and faith as we partake of this holy sacrament. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

            Then may the minister, partaking first, with the assistance of any other ministers present, and
            when necessary, of the stewards, administer the Communion to the people.

             While the bread is being distributed, let the minister say:

 
             The body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was broken for you, preserve you blameless, unto everlasting life. Take and eat this, in remembrance that Christ died for you.

 
            As the cup is being passed, let the minister say:
 

            The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for you, preserve you blameless unto everlasting life. Drink this, in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for you, and be thankful.

 
            After all have partaken, the minister may then offer a concluding prayer of thanksgiving and             commitment. (29.5, 514.4, 514.9, 530.7, 531.2, 532.1)

 

            NOTE: Only unfermented wine should be used in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

 

 
FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

 

1.  These minimal changes, rather than a completely new ritual, allow us to keep a viable (though brief) ritual for our people, easily accessible in the Manual.

 2.  These minimal changes bring us closer in line with Jesus’ own wording as well as with Wesley and a Wesleyan sacramental theology and, thus, with many of our sisters and brothers in the larger   
Wesleyan/Methodist tradition.

3.  The change includes a recovery of the ancient epiclesis (invocation of the Holy Spirit) upon both the congregation and the bread and cup.  This recovery is something that has taken place throughout many denominations.

General Assembly Resolution Concerning the Article of Faith on Baptism


XII. BAPTISM                                                                         12.

 

 XII. Baptism

                12. We believe that Christian baptism, commanded by our Lord, is a sacrament and means of grace signifying acceptance of the benefits of the atonement of Jesus Christ, to be administered to believers and declarative of their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior; and full purpose of obedience in holiness and righteousness.

                Baptism being a symbol of the new covenant, young children may be baptized, upon request of parents or guardians who shall give assurance for them of necessary Christian training.

                Baptism may be administered by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion, according to the choice of the applicant.                                                                                                                                                                                                                              


FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

1.  This change makes clear that we are Wesleyan in our understanding of the sacraments as outward signs of an inward grace and means whereby we receive the same.

 2.  Such a change makes the article consistent with other Manual paragraphs that identify sacraments as means of grace, viz., 21.1(7) & 514.9.

3.  Such a change is consistent with statements found in various Nazarene theological writings.

4.  Such a change is consistent with our Methodists heritage.

5.  Such a change is consistent with John Wesley’s understanding.

6.  Such a change brings us closer in alignment with our closest denominational partners, The Wesleyan Church and the Free Methodist Church, along with our other sisters and brothers throughout World Methodism.

General Assembly Resolution Concerning the General Superintendents


GENERAL SUPERINTENDENTS                         CHAPTER III, GENERAL GOVERNMENT, G.
                                                                                  The General Superintendents (above 306)

 
G. The General Superintendents*


*(The general superintendents fulfill for us the episcopal office referred to as bishops in other Wesleyan/Methodist denominations)

 
FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

1.  When Phineas Bresee used the term general superintendent, he understood that it was the Methodist term for bishop.  The term was used to describe the bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church in their Discipline, and was used by Wesley for Coke and Asbury.  They understood the terms to be interchangeable. Nevertheless, this footnote would provide a more clear understanding when relating to other denominations.

2.  This footnote does not change our use of the term general superintendent.  However, it does provide a more biblical and traditional term that can help us understand our current term, which is often found in the corporate, rather than ecclesial world.  It may also help us to realize that the “general” in general superintendent is a geographical term relating to the scope of the superintendency, rather than a title of (military type) rank.

 3.  This footnote changes nothing at all concerning the duties and powers of the general superintendents.