Tuesday, November 26, 2013

CP228 An Advent Credo

CP 228 An Advent Credo
Hello fellow travellers. Every now and then something comes up on the email which has a sense about it of challenge and truth. The Advent Creed below is one of those. I think it struck a chord because its author, Daniel Berrigan, was a priest who was in conflict with the Vatican in the 1970s, 1980s. That's usually an indicates that he was wrestling with uncomfortable truths. As with all these things, we may not always agree with what is written but if it rattles the cage, well then, isn’t that what Advent is about anyway… So here it is.

An Advent Credo
It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss—
This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life;

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction—
This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever—
This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, his name shall be called wonderful councillor, mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world—
This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers—
This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall have dreams.

It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind, of justice, of human dignity of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history—
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that the true worshippers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.
So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ—the life of the world.
Daniel Berrigan (born 1921)
When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer. Corrie Ten Boom

Thursday, November 21, 2013

CP 227 What's good for the goose...

CP 227 What’s good for the goose…

Hi guys (meaning guys and girls…) My Bishop has challenged me, (and I’ve challenged the Bishop), to keep the conversation rolling about empowering for Kingdom work through the Holy Spirit. That robust dialogue was evident during the recent NSW Gathering at Warrambui. Just how and where does the Holy Spirit work for ministry in the church today? This is an uncomfortable conversation to have because it inevitably challenges our preconceived ideas… and most of us don’t like to have the cage rattled! My questions are, “Could it be possible that there is something we have missed? Or that we have perhaps misunderstood? Could it be we still have more to learn?” Let’s keep our wrestling conversation going! So…
In CP225 I showed that even Jesus needed anointing and empowering for his specific messianic work as priest, prophet and King.
In CP 226 I set out the truth that the 12 were explicitly charged to bear witness to Jesus’ messianic work but they were told, just as explicitly, that they were to wait until the power from on high was bestowed on them… and that was Pentecost!

Let me put something to you. My conviction is that the Holy Spirit has four specific tasks in regard to the mission of Jesus Christ:
  1. Through the Word of Christ he brings us to faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
  2. Through Word and sacrament he continues the process of transforming us from inside out toward the likeness of Jesus Christ himself… we will be seen to have nothing less than the character of Jesus himself… the fruit of the Spirit. (It’s sometimes called sanctification…)
  3. His third task is to strengthen us daily, in daily faith toward God and love toward each other. That includes endurance and standing our ground. He gives backbone to us! We develop and hold our conviction and confession about Jesus Christ.
  4. One particular task remains. He manifests himself in the Body of Christ, in quite specific ways in each person, with giftedness for a personal role in the overall ministry. There have been millions of words on this subject. Maybe today I can clarify things a smidgen…
 In his first letter to Corinth Paul the Apostle confronts a church where people are bragging about the superiority of their Spirit-giftedness compared to others. In the process of pointing them to Christly love he lists as many gifts as he can think of. Here is a summary:
Apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher, wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in different kinds of tongues, the interpretation of tongues. Also mercy, leadership, administration, hospitality, generosity.
Now tell me? Which of these Holy Spirit giftings / enablings can you identify as manifested in Jesus Christ’s own ministry? Eg, was he an apostle? A prophet? A pastor? Was he able to distinguish between spirits? Was he a healer? Did he have an hospitable heart?
So, next question? Which of these Holy Spirit ‘gifts’ can you nominate in the endeavours of the Apostles and the churches they founded? Have a look. Have a think. Great similarity? Jolly well should be! They were engaged in the continuing the work of Jesus Christ. Their ministry flowed out of His ministry.
What about today? In the church today, big picture, say LCA, and little picture, say your local church, can you see the Holy Spirit at work manifesting Christ’s gifts among you as they were in the early church? Should we expect to see that outcome.
I so hope you can say yes… and if yes, what’s your own ‘empowered role’?
Enough… I’m tired of sitting at the computer. However, for your delectation, I’ve extracted a few quotes from an official LCA book which, I reckon, prove that the LCA agrees with me!!! Even our Bishops need a special anointing from the Spirit of Jesus Christ for the fulfilment of their call.!!!
PS… I’m not suggesting Jesus Christ is/was a goose.

From Church Rites (CR) Lutheran Church of Australia… Did you know?

Baptism… The Address
…The Holy Spirit renews us and gives us eternal life. CR 2
Commentary on the rite
Laying on of hands… a special blessing is being transmitted… in the words accompanying the action… to receive the gift of eternal life. CR 317

Laying on of hands… 5 scripture blessings… Holy Spirit for living out the life of faith… CR 27
Commentary on the rite
The gifts of the Spirit supply sustenance and power for the candidate’s life beyond confirmation. CR 327

pour out your Holy Spirit on N and N so they may live faithfully… CR 49

Eternal God, through your Son, Jesus Christ, pour out your Holy Spirit on N and fill him with the gifts of grace for his ministry to your people. Amen (CR LCA p141)
Commentary on the rite
…a prayer for the Holy Spirit to empower the ordinand for his ministry… CR 339

Installation of a Pastor
Fill him with your Holy Spirit so that he may… CR p150

Fill our Bishop with your Holy Spirit, so that your gifts of grace may be increased in him. CR 154

Blessing (for CC members)
God the Father give you his Holy Spirit to work in you and support you, so that you may serve our Lord Jesus Christ faithfully. CR 158

Teacher (+ lector / lay-reader)
…equip N with the gifts of your Holy Spirit… CR 162 plus blessing…

Catechist / Congregational teacher
…Enlighten N by the power of your Spirit, so that…

Pour out your Holy Spirit on the elders… that they may be faithful… and fruitful…

 NOTE! Every single rite concerning ‘called’ or official participation in ministry includes prayer for the Holy Spirit to equip, strengthen, empower for ministry…

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

CP 226 When the 12, and the rest, got zapped.

CP 226 When the 12, and the rest, got zapped…

Hello good people… I promised you two weeks ago that I’d do a series of three CrossPurposes on being ‘powered’ by the Holy Spirit. The first, (CP225) was about Jesus and the Spirit. It was suggested to me recently that Jesus did not need the power of the Holy Spirit for his ‘Messiah work’ because he had it already by virtue of his incarnation. I simply say, ‘I have to disagree.’ In Philippians 2:6-8 good old Paul reveals a truth about Jesus that is stunning and yet gives great hope. Here it is:
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. (RSV)
Check verse 7! He emptied himself… The eternal Son of God took on flesh, the flesh of Adam with all its limitations. He was among us as Son of Man, empty of his divine powers and capacities. He joined us in our weakness, yet without sin. He lived among us able to do the things he did by virtue of being ‘a man under authority’, as indeed Adam should have been in the first place. The authority was from his Father. The power came from the eternal Spirit. He was always utterly dependent on his Father, especially, between the Jordan and Calvary, in living under, and bearing, his cross.

He commanded, and authorised, the 12 - and the Church – to take His Gospel to the world… indeed to the ends of the earth. Matthew records:

All authority in heaven and earth has (now, my addition) been given to me. Go into all the world… Matt 28:18-19

Here is Luke’s account:
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.’ Acts 1:7-8
‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’ Acts 1:4-5
Go… but wait! Yes, there was a great task in his name, but first… the Spirit of and for powering. We can hardly misunderstand that. For the 12 the Holy Spirit was sine qua non… without which nothing! These men were not being asked to go to Calvary. Jesus did that for everybody and it will never need to happen again. But they will be his proclaimers. They will ‘bear his name’. Blessings abundant... but suffering and work that will be humanly impossible. Each will have a personalised cross with its own tasks. And each one will need that baptism of the Spirit.
More next week about us!
Be blessed in Him