Saturday, May 30, 2015

Trinity Sunday

Tomorrow the Church celebrates Trinity Sunday. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is one of the mysteries of faith, but the Church, from ancient times, has confessed its faith in the Triune God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The very first Article of Faith for the Church of the Nazarene (as well as for others in the Wesleyan/Methodist tradition) confesses our belief in the Triune God. Additionally, in our Manual's "Historical Statement," we state that the Church of the Nazarene ". . . receives the ecumenical creeds of the first five Christian centuries as expressions of its own faith." Along side the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed, we find that creed which John Wesley identifies as the best explication of the Trinity he ever saw (cf., his sermon "On the Trinity"), that is the so called Athanasian Creed (or Quicunque Vult) written, most likely within the fifth-century.

The words at the beginning and conclusion of the creed tying the necessity of assent to this faith with salvation have caused much difficulty for many.  However, according to Ray Dunning, "Edmund J. Fortman says that it is not suggesting that the 'Catholic faith' is merely an intellectual assent but rather that it involves the 'worship of one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity'" (Grace, Faith and Holiness, 226). Wesley, himself, said, "I am far from saying, he who does not assent to this 'shall without doubt perish everlastingly.' For the sake of that an another clause, I, for some time, scrupled subscribing to that creed; till I considered,(1.) That these sentences only relate to wilful, not involuntary, unbelievers; to those who, having all the means of knowing the truth, nevertheless obstinately reject it: (2.) That they relate only to the substance of the doctrine there delivered; not the philosophical illustrations of it" ("On the Trinity"). - Whether one still has trouble with those lines, even after Fortman's and Wesley's explanation, the Athanasius Creed is still a wonderfully thorough confession of Trinitarian faith.

Although, it has been said that it is far too long for liturgical use, I know there are a number of churches where the creed is confessed at least on Trinity Sunday each year.

I strongly encourage those who are unfamiliar with the creed to read it by clicking, here. (Sorry, it's a bit too long for me to reproduce on my blog.)

Please join me in this prayer from the Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, on God, for ever and ever. Amen.

And, join me in the ancient Gloria Patri:

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.  Amen, Amen.
And finally, for the fun of it (from our Lutheran brothers):

Friday, May 15, 2015

An Excellent Graduation Gift

This post is not related to anything liturgical or sacramental or even Wesleyan or Anglican.  However, it is pastoral in nature.

Graduation season is upon us.  During this season, pastors are always looking for something appropriate to give to high school (and college, etc.) graduates.  They usually want to give something that is somehow "spiritual" (whatever that means).  After all, it is coming from the pastor!  -  The Christian bookstores have all of those "Devotions for Graduates" books, which are fine.  But, if you are like me, you often see those as the kind of default gift when you can't find anything else.

However, I have a suggestion that I think is especially appropriate for those young ladies who are graduating from high school.  It is an excellent, little book by author and speaker, Missy Helderman.  The book is title, She Believes: Uniquely Designed with Purpose in Mind.

I've known Missy for quite some time.  (We won't say how long!)  We graduated from Floyd Central High School together, and while in high school, we were both active members of the "Good News Club."  She is a good friend and a wonderful Christian woman.

When I first heard that she had written a book, I was the first to sign up to get a copy, and I was not disappointed!  I had my college age daughter read the book after I finished it, and she agreed that this would be very appropriate for young ladies graduating from high school.  -  Now, I don't mean to imply that the book is only appropriate for such young ladies!  In fact I would recommend it for any who are seeking to discover who they are and what their life is all about.  But, as a pastor, I immediately thought, this would be a great graduation gift!

I would encourage you to take a look at Missy's website.  There you can read about Missy and take a closer look at her book.  Or you can go straight for the purchase for just $9.99, here!
 The promo. for the book says:

Are you feeling like a round peg in a square hole but dream of more? …a life a purpose?
Have you wondered why no matter how hard you try to be what others expect, there are things you just can’t seem to change?
She Believes takes you on a journey that leads to freedom to be who God created, dream the dreams placed within you, and do what only you can do…what you were created for.
Discover, Embrace & CELEBRATE the design God intentionally tailored within you for purpose & destiny.
Your Design Matters !
And here is what people are saying about the book: 

God takes each of us through a journey of discovery, a journey of connecting with our heavenly Father and growing into who He has created us to be. I firmly believe God has created each of us as a beautiful daughter with a unique and fulfilling destiny. Missy does an excellent job of guiding the reader of She Believes into a graceful and anointed process of personal growth and spiritual encounter with destiny. I highly recommend this book to all women who desire to live a life beyond the limits and kingdom adventure.
~Rebecca Greenwood
President, Christian Harvest International, Strategic Prayer Action Network
If you truly desire to discover, understand, and embrace your God-given design, then this book is the key to unlock that process for you. She Believes takes you on a transformative journey that will challenge and inspire you to draw closer to God in order to reflect His glory and to live out your purpose. With practical and powerful insight, that can only be gained by going through the fire and emerging refined + renewed, Missy shares tools, strategies and prayers that work! Her heart for seeing women experience true freedom, healing, and wholeness is evident on every page.  I have no doubt that God is going to use this book to encourage, uplift and launch His daughters into greatness.
 ~Ilesha “CoCo” Graham
Speaker + Founder, Flourishing Women Ministries
Missy Helderman’s “She Believes” is an inspiring small book with big concepts about the journey we all face. A journey that brings us to the heart of who we are and what we were  destined to be.  A delightful quick read that will encourage and inspire! I found it enlightening and thought provoking.
~ Dr. Dallas Eggemeyer
Lightbearers International, Atlanta, GA

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Ascension Day

Today (Thursday May 14) is the fortieth day of the Great Fifty Days of the Resurrection (i.e., Easter) Season.  It is the day that Christians refer to as Ascension Day.  Many Churches will celebrate this day on this coming Sunday, Ascension Sunday.

As the name indicates, it is the celebration of the risen Christ's ascension into heaven where He is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

In celebration of Ascension Day, I offer the following Scriptures, a (rather lengthy) Wesley hymn and a prayer:

Christ's Ascension
After Jesus' suffering, he showed himself to the disciples and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.  He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.  On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?
He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.  "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky?   This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."
Remember Jesus' words:  "Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." 
(Acts 1:3-11; Matthew 28:20b, from "Sing to the Lord")

Hail the day that sees Him rise, Alleluia!
To His throne above the skies, Alleluia!
Christ, awhile to mortals given, Alleluia!
Reascends His native heaven, Alleluia!

... There the glorious triumph waits, Alleluia!
Lift your heads, eternal gates, Alleluia!
Christ hath conquered death and sin, Alleluia!
Take the King of glory in, Alleluia!

Circled round with angel powers, Alleluia!
Their triumphant Lord, and ours, Alleluia!
Conqueror over death and sin, Alleluia!
“Take the King of glory in! Alleluia!”

Him though highest Heav’n receives, Alleluia!
Still He loves the earth He leaves, Alleluia!
Though returning to His throne, Alleluia!
Still He calls mankind His own, Alleluia!

See! He lifts His hands above, Alleluia!
See! He shows the prints of love, Alleluia!
Hark! His gracious lips bestow, Alleluia!
Blessings on His church below, Alleluia!

Still for us His death He pleads, Alleluia!
Prevalent He intercedes, Alleluia!
Near Himself prepares our place, Alleluia!
Harbinger of human race, Alleluia!

Master, (will we ever say), Alleluia!
Taken from our head to day, Alleluia!
See Thy faithful servants, see, Alleluia!
Ever gazing up to Thee, Alleluia!

Grant, though parted from our sight, Alleluia!
Far above yon azure height, Alleluia!
Grant our hearts may thither rise, Alleluia!
Seeking Thee beyond the skies, Alleluia!

Ever upward let us move, Alleluia!
Wafted on the wings of love, Alleluia!
Looking when our Lord shall come, Alleluia!
Longing, gasping after home, Alleluia!

There we shall with Thee remain, Alleluia!
Partners of Thy endless reign, Alleluia!
There Thy face unclouded see, Alleluia!
Find our heaven of heavens in Thee, Alleluia!

- Charles Wesley

Grant, we pray, Almighty God, that as we believe your only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into heaven, so we may also in heart and mind there ascend, and with him continually dwell; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Monday, May 4, 2015

New Sacramental Ware

This past month, my wife & I took a vacation to Pigeon Forge in the Great Smokey Mountains.  We had a fabulous time.  The vacation took place the week leading into my birthday, and my wonderful wife, Bobbie, took the opportunity to buy my birthday present while we were there.

We picked up a great set of sacramental ware at The Old Mill Pigeon River Pottery.  The artist at the Pottery place is Tommy Bullen.  He is a 3rd generation craftsman from Gatlinburg. 

Now, I confess, the items we bought were not specifically sacramental ware, but that is why we bought them.  We purchased a chalice, a paten (plate) & a baptismal bowl (the "shell" is something I already had).

I have had the opportunity to use the chalice & paten for the last two weeks at Heartland Church of the Nazarene, but I have not yet had the opportunity to use the baptismal bowel.

So, what do you think?  Pretty great, huh?

The Old Mill Pigeon River Potter is located at 175 Old mill Avenue.  Their number is 865-453-1104, and their website can be view, here.   -  (If you are visiting Pigeon Forge, we also recommend the Pottery House CafĂ© & Grille.)