Moving Toward Summer

The Great 50 Days of Easter continue apace and summer draws nearer. I’ve heard feedback from many of you about how rich this season is - because it is! God’s word is always good, but in this season there is a particular beauty and depth to the readings. I hope to see you Sunday as we continue to behold the beauty of our risen Savior and become more like him. 

Be sure to sign up for Dinners for 9 and look for serving opportunities near St. Bart’s for this summer (see the links below).

Blessings!

Jay+

Ah, Honey, You're in the Wrong End of Downtown

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I spent the majority of my Wednesday sitting in the Central Jury Room at the Municipal Court Building downtown. But I didn’t start it there. 

I drove through noonday rain to the George Allen Courts building, and despite being warned by several of my peers, I went to the wrong courthouse. When I asked the security guard if this was 2014 Main St., I was simply told “Ah, honey, you’re in the wrong end of downtown.” 

Back down to the garage I scurried, through the rain I drove, and eventually landed at the proper courthouse. When I arrived in the correct jury room at the correct courthouse, I was greeted by the glazed stares of more peers. We all wanted to be picked, except that we didn’t. 

For the next few hours I read, sat, and slept in alternating fashion. And in the mundane nature of it all I felt so far from the resurrection, from the reality that Jesus is in his glorified, resurrected, ascended being. I was doing the work of the City of Man and felt so far from the City of God. 

This Sunday is commonly called Good Shepherd Sunday. Each of the passages has some connection with Jesus’ vocation as our Good Shepherd. It is a great moment to be reminded of Jesus’ closeness to us and his authority in our lives which is exercised not so much because of his power - though he is all-powerful - but because of his concern and love for us. I pray you hear the Good Shepherd’s voice this week.  

Jay+

This Changes Everything

The resurrection of Jesus changes everything. It has reoriented history, the world, the entire created order, and it changes us too. That’s why we take 50 days to celebrate resurrection. That’s why we keep shouting "Alleluia!" That’s why we meet every Sunday, because resurrection has changed everything.

Resurrection gives us a picture of being fully human. It is humanity at its fullest potential. Not just resuscitated, not just un-dead, when the resurrected Lord Jesus appeared to his disciples he was glorified, somewhat unrecognizable, could appear out of nowhere, and could eat real food. 

Don’t let your Easter joy wane! Don’t let your “Alleluias!” diminish! Enter into Sunday worship with awe and expectation. Hear his holy word with reverence and humility. Feast at his holy table assured of your participation in his holy mysteries, and your place in his body, the church.  Let us take these Great 50 Days to learn from our Master and Teacher, Jesus.  

Jay+

Teach us to Pray

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The Lord's Prayer. The Our Father. We say or sing it every Sunday as part of our worship, and you may even say it as part your own devotions, but what is this prayer, what does it mean, why has the Church continually turned to it as the heart of Christian prayer, and what can it teach us about prayer itself? These are some of the questions we will consider over the next three weeks in our Adult Catechesis class.

In Luke 11 the disciples happen upon Jesus while he is praying, and one disciple makes this simple request--Teach us to pray. In what follows Jesus teaches them the prayer we now call the Lord's Prayer. In teaching them this prayer he doesn't simply teach them a list of requests. He goes on to teach them about persistence, about hope, and about trusting the Father whom we petition in prayer, trusting Him to hear us and to give us good gifts, to give us even the Holy Spirit.

Simple enough, we might say. But while prayer itself can be simple, praying is anything but simple. To actually pray is hard. To really pray can be frustrating, maddening, even boring sometimes. We can often find ourselves discouraged. Praying is something we know we should do or something that we wish we did more, but it can so easily slip away.

If any of that describes you, maybe, just maybe, the Lord's Prayer can serve as a way back into prayer again. So please plan to join us this Sunday at 4 in the parish hall, and bring all your questions and frustrations about prayer.

Thanks,

Chris+

The Great Three Days

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Today we enter the Great Three Days or Triduum of Holy Week - Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. They all look toward and anticipate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday as did all of history up to that point. 

Liturgy is an interesting thing. By the Spirit of God, we encapsulate in time a moment that happened some two thousand years ago. And as we remember that moment by faith, its power and presence - the presence of Christ in that moment and in the here and now - are made real to us. So it will be when we celebrate and remember Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper at our Maundy Thursday service, tonight at 7pm. (Please don’t forget we’ll be meeting at White Rock Fellowship, 6800 Town N Dr, Dallas, TX 75231.)
 
Similarly, Good Friday’s noonday service of Meditations on the Stations of the Cross are more than sentimental recall. By faith we watch and pray with Jesus as he bears the cross for us, those who abandoned him and shouted “Crucify him!” a few short days before. 

And while we won’t have any services on Holy Saturday, I invite you to observe the day with quiet, resting, and reflection if possible. This Collect for Holy Saturday sums up the attitude of the day well as well as anticipates the joy of Easter:

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

Remember, friends, the Easter joy we’ll share on Sunday is but a foretaste of the jubilant kingdom our God is bringing both now in faint whispers and one day in fullness as our risen Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 

Until then our worship will be by faith, but one day by sight. 

Jay+ 

Holy Week Beckons

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This Sunday will begin Holy Week. I encourage you to enter into this sacred week with all your heart, to turn down the volume of life so you can hear the voice of God as meditate on the mighty acts of salvation Jesus endured for us and the whole world.  

We’ll begin with Palm Sunday by remembering Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem with a palm leaf procession around the church. Then, inside the church, John’s Passion narrative will be read dramatically by our reading team where we will take up the shouts of “Crucify him! Crucify him!” A sober beginning to the week indeed.

Wednesday morning we’ll continue with Morning Prayer and conclude by praying the Great Litany in procession inside the church. Maundy Thursday, the commemoration of Jesus instituting the Lord’s Supper with his disciples begins the Great Three Days. The service will end in silence and darkness as we prepare for Good Friday. 

At noon on Good Friday we will walk through the meditations on the stations of the cross, remembering Jesus’ bearing the hard wood of the cross through Jerusalem, outside the city gate, to be lifted up and glorified. 

It’s the most important week of our faith, and I look forward to the sober, solemn, life-giving time we’ll have together. 

Jay+

Being Put in our Place

Lent marches on this Sunday as we encounter three different stories of emplacement. In each lesson a moment of transformation precedes a statement of destiny or placement in a longterm context of grace. The most prominent of these stories is the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). 

Most of us are familiar with this parable that tells of a young man who asks for his inheritance, squanders it in loose living, comes to his senses to return home, whereupon his father lavishes an inordinate amount of love on him to reinstate him as a son, in a position of privilege and grace.  The son did not get what he deserved. He received grace upon grace. 

Jesus tells this story to show us what God is like, that He and all of heaven rejoice at the repentance of just one sinner. I’m not sure how Lent has gone for you so far, but I hope you’ve experienced this same kind of grace. And, I hope we bear in mind that it’s not just for us that Jesus came, but for the whole world around us. 

I’ll see you Sunday as we journey together in Lent -

Jay+ 

Why Study the Apostles Creed?

We still have three weeks left in our catechesis class, and I wanted to invite you all to join us this Sunday at 4 in the Parish Hall. We've been focusing on the Apostles' Creed, so I wanted to give you a sense of the things we've been talking about.

From very early on, the Church has used the Apostles' Creed, and other statements like it, as a way to teach the Christian faith. But the creed is much more than the basics, much more than Christianity 101. It's not something we "get" and then move beyond. We are continually invited to move deeper and deeper into its truths. 

The creed invites us to immerse ourselves in the realities it speaks to. What do I mean? Well, take the first statement, for example--"I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth." It is one thing to say we believe that God created everything, but it is another matter entirely to mediate on that reality. For instance, it is not simply that God created everything, it is God the Father who created everything and declared it good. So when we confess this we are confessing the goodness of creation. We are saying that the world, though fallen, is good. When we confess that God is Father, we are confessing at the same time the reality of His Son. We are saying that the Father and Son work in concert with each other, never against each other. So in the Incarnation, Jesus takes on flesh and becomes part of the created order, the world created by God, our Father. Jesus comes into the world to restore the goodness of creation and to show us the heart of the Father. The creed, in other words, tells the story of creation and redemption, and when we say the creed we are saying that the story it tells is our story. We are saying that the reality is speaks to is reality itself.

This week we will discuss these statements from the creed:

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.

Please make plans to join us!

Chris+