An update on Holy Orders for women in the ACNA

The College of Bishops for the Anglican Church in North America met in conclave from September 5-7 in British Columbia, Canada.  Here is the statement that they made at the conclusion of their time.

They met to discuss the report of the Theological Task Force on Holy Orders.  The report itself is over 300 pages long and well worth the time it takes to digest it.  You will see the careful thinking of the writers and you will learn a lot about church history and church polity.  The report underlines the reality that every decision has decades of background and convictions that shape the assumptions which lead to the final conclusions.

In the social media space, many people have reacted to the report that lead into the conclave and then subsequently to the decision that was made by the College of Bishops at the conclave.

I want to give my brief thoughts as the pastor of Restoration Anglican Church in Arlington, VA.  I speak for myself.  Restoration is a church that joyfully affirms the leadership and gifts of women in every part of our life together.  We have women who are elders (vestry members), small group leaders (for kids, youth, and adults who are male and female), and priests (ordained clergy).  I want to be clear that not all of Restoration’s members agree with my view.  But we live in charity with one another and we work in mission alongside each other.

My response to the College of Bishops Statement

Generally I was thrilled by the conclusions of the College of Bishops for 4 reasons:  

  • First it was unanimous.  Currently, in the Anglican Church of North America, about 17 dioceses do not ordain women to the priesthood and 13 dioceses do ordain women to the priesthood.  There is significant disagreement on this issue within our province.  So to have a unanimous vote is quite incredible.  By the grace and discernment of the Holy Spirit, they found words to articulate a way forward in which all the bishops could agree.  Thanks be to God!
  • Second,  their statement does NOT say—  we agree that some of us believe this and some of us believe that.  We know there are differing opinions and convictions.  Saying, ‘We disagree’ would have been a non-statement.  Instead, they stated the elements where they found agreement and how our province could remain together even though there is disagreement on this issue.  Thanks be to God!  
  • Third, the statement acknowledges that “Anglicans have differing principles of ecclesiology and hermeneutics that are acceptable within Anglicanism and lead to divergent conclusions regarding women’s ordination to the priesthood.”  This statement affirms the beauty and charity of Anglicanism.  We find our authority in the unchanging Scriptures and that people who trust the Bible have come to different conclusions on this issue.  But we can stay in relationship with each other.  Thanks be to God!
  • Fourth, as expected, the bishops agreed that the ordination of women cannot be mandated across the whole province.  The College of Bishops decided that each bishop and diocese will be able to make that decision for their diocese but not for other dioceses.

    To be clear, this is the way we talk about the leadership of women in our church, here at Restoration:  all of us have to decide what we believe about the expression and use of gifts that God has given to women.  You can make a Biblical case to limit the role of women and you can make a Biblical case for women to use their gifts in all aspects of the parish.  Restoration strongly encourages women to lead, teach, and serve in every part of our church.  Thanks be to God!

I encourage you to read the statement from the conclave.  And to dig into the 300 page report that was prepared over 5 years.  It is excellent work.

As always, feel free to reach out to me with questions or concerns.  I love Restoration and I am grateful that our bishops have made a way for us to continue our Biblical practice of affirming the leadership, teaching, and serving gifts of women in our parish.  Thanks be to God!

-David

Incarnation Anglican

unspecifiedAbout 10 days ago we had our first ‘Interested in South Arlington’ evening. It was a lovely time. 35 people came and we talked about South Arlington, Restoration and the strategic plan; the what and why and some of the how of a church plant.  We announced that this new worshipping community is going to be called ‘Incarnation Anglican’.

So let’s start there – why ‘Incarnation’? Well, to be honest, it’s how God finally wooed me to saying ‘yes’ to leading this whole crazy adventure! I was praying one day and he dropped the idea into my brain – and my excitement level rose perceptibly! Why? One of my favorite Bible accounts is Luke 8:43–48 where Jesus heals a hemorrhaging woman with his ’contagious holiness’. She reaches out and touches the hem of his garment and is instantly healed. He then turns around and ensures that her healing is not just physical but social and relational and emotional as well. God in flesh ‘incarnate’ bringing wholeness.

Touching Jesus brings healing. And hope. And fullness. And an encounter with the Holy Spirit. And forgiveness. And life. And as we are called to be the people of God, we are called to be ones who help others to encounter Jesus and his amazing contagious holiness. Jesus touched people who were ‘unclean’ in that culture, and yet they became ‘clean’ rather than him being contaminated. This is our dream – to head into a part of town where people are perhaps not aware that they are looking for Jesus, but are aware of their own brokenness.bus stop

We will go and pray and talk to people at bus stops and in coffee shops. We will look for opportunities to chat and drink tea. We will search out corners of South Arlington where there are people who have struggled with ‘internal bleeding for 12 years’and who know they need answers. We will keep our eyes open for men and women ‘of peace’ (Luke 10.6) who are ready to hear about Jesus. We want to help people see that the incarnate Christ is in their midst and all they need to do is reach out and touch him.

We are glad to be Anglican. There is much to be delighted about: our liturgy brings a sense of history, permanence, and tradition; the delight in beauty brings a sense of the transcendence of God; being Anglican brings a reminder that we are part of an historic, global church, reaching all nations; and so much more…20170222_112820 (1)

Do you live in South Arlington? Or might you move there? Do you have a heart for the nations (108 languages are spoken along Columbia Pike!)?

The Incarnation core team comprises Liz Gray, Morgan Reed and Amy Rowe. If you want to learn more, do reach out to one of us, we’d love to tell you more. After Easter there will be an ‘Interested in Incarnation’ small group – sign up, come and help us pray as we refine our vision and begin to plan our next steps. Come even if you are just curious! We will also be arranging prayer walks, ‘compline in the park’, and other events over the next months… all are invited!

Whether or not you are interested in joining Incarnation, please pray for the team, and for this tiny seedling plant: for ideas, inspiration and most of all for God’s favor (and a place to worship!). Send us an e-mail if you’d like to be kept in the loop.

Rev. Liz Gray, liz@incarnationanglican.org

Rev. Morgan Reed, morgan@incarnationanglican.org

Amy Rowe, amy@incarnationanglican.org

Election Prayer: part 1

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On Tuesday, November 8 at 7:30pm, we will hold a special Eucharist service  at Restoration for Election Day. A number of churches around the country are holding prayer vigils and services and we’ve invited our sister churches to join us for this service.

No matter what your political leanings, praying for our nation and our leaders is something we are all called to do (1 Tim 2:1-2).  And on a day when we will name some people winners and others losers, when the pull toward power will be felt especially strongly, it is good to come together in common submission and supplication to God, to remind ourselves that He is God and we are not, and to ask for His wisdom and guidance for our leaders — whoever they may be.

In preparation for our time together, we’ll be posting a prayer for our country and the election each Tuesday between now and Election Day. We invite your prayers for our country.

Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly entreat you that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of your favor and glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought here out of many kindred and tongues. Empower with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in your Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may show forth your praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, do not allow our trust in you to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

~Katie

Worship is for Lovers: Summer Small Group

Sign up for this small group by emailing David Griffin.

“Blessed is the man

who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the Lord,

and on his law he meditates day and night.

 (Psalm 1:1-2)

Thousands of years ago, the Psalmist recognized something that our modern era is only slowly learning to appreciate again: ritual. If there’s a word in our Christian vocabulary that’s gotten a bad rap in the last couple centuries, it’s “ritual.” Sometimes you hear it as shorthand for mindless acts of devotion that keep religious people busy, or for something quaint and sentimental, like when secular people put up Christmas trees in December.

Psalm 1 speaks of ritual practice, but it’s hardly mindless or sentimental. Granted, it doesn’t deal with “rituals” like religious festivals or fasting. But notice how the Psalm speaks of routine activities we perform with our bodies: walking, standing, sitting, meditating, and that day and night. That’s because the “law of the Lord” is a four-dimensional thing, something lived in space and time (though also contemplated in the mind). Israel’s book of worship opens with this hymn, suggesting that this is somehow what worship—indeed, life—is all about. We train our affections to delight in the law of the Lord.

I think the book of Psalms begins like this because rituals are routine practices that shape who we are at the most fundamental level of our lives. They give shape to our desires and fashion our loves. They are everywhere, and most of the time we aren’t even aware of it when we perform them. As Christian philosopher James K. A. Smith puts it, we are worshipping animals.

You know who really gets this? Starbucks. When I worked there as a barista, their mission was to become our clientele’s “third place,” after their home and work places. So we hoped to seduce coffee-lovers through what might be called a Starbucks liturgy. A smiling barista would greet you from behind the counter as soon as you enter the door, and (if possible) would welcome you by name. After reading the bulletin (our menu), admiring the icons (our quirky wall-art), and making an offering (at the register), you would partake of the elements in your favorite pew (a plush loveseat) with the rest of the congregants enjoying the aroma of the coffee-scented incense. Ideally for Starbucks, this simple routine would become embedded in your daily rhythm of life.

The Christian Church, of course, has its own liturgy or set of rituals, which are designed to channel our deepest desires to the Triune God, who is love. And this Church exists in a world of competing liturgies, like those of Starbucks (or nation states, neighborhood associations, fraternity and sorority houses, corporate structures, etc.), which are always trying to direct our loves toward other things. In this class I want to examine how Christian practices (ancient, everyday-things-people-got-martyred-for practices that we still do today) play this role of formation in our lives.

In our first four weeks, we’ll study in depth the practices of worship and devotion that the Holy Spirit has used over the centuries to shape the church into the Bride of Christ, who adores (imperfectly, in this life) her all-loving Husband. These include our Sunday liturgy (especially the Eucharist), scripture reading, daily prayer, the creeds, the church year, etc. I am a historian of the Bible and ancient church by training, so my hope is that you’ll gain a fresh appreciation for what we do in the present by digging into the past.

In the last four weeks, we’ll turn our attention to the situation in which we find ourselves in the postmodern world. This part of the class will be much more creative. What forces are at work in our culture, at the level of practice, competing for our loves in our corner of the world in 2013? How can we identify and respond to them in a way that is relevant yet rooted in our historic faith? I’m open to seeing what issues are of interest to the group; potential topics include the arts, internet, and social media, the institutions in which we work, etc.

So please join me Wednesday nights in July and August to study (or, better, pursue) the Christian life as one of worship. It is something we do body and soul, “day and night.” It is a historic pattern of practices, and the goal to “delight in the Lord.” That is: worship is for lovers.

David Griffin

Day/Time: Wednesdays from 7:30pm – 9:00pm

Dates: July 6- August 24

Location: The Fellowship Hall, Restoration Anglican Church

Sign up: Email David Griffin

Confirmation 2016

seedssoilWhat is this Confirmation Thing All About?

Last Sunday several members of our Restoration family were confirmed or received into the Anglican tradition! While it is a blessing to hear of God’s gracious working, confirmation may confuse those who did not grow up in a tradition which practiced confirmation and infant baptism. It is likely that many at Restoration come to our community with similar questions and I would like to try to break down why confirmation is good and helpful. While we as Anglicans believe that Christianity is far greater than Anglicanism, we also believe that the Anglican tradition offers a beautiful expression of the body of Christ into which a Christian will grow in the grace and knowledge of God.

Why be Confirmed if I am Already a Member at Restoration? 

Being a member at Restoration is a great thing! We are blessed with a loving, godly, and diverse community. However, membership doth not an Anglican make. So what is the spiritual benefit to being Anglican? Becoming Anglican through confirmation/reception will benefit your life in Christ in at least three ways: we need tangible signs of God’s grace, we need to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit, and your testimony will encourage other Christians.

God’s Sacramental Grace

God’s love often meets us in very tangible ways: a hug, an encouraging word, an unexpected kindness shown to us. God’s attributes and actions are often felt through very tangible, sacramental deeds upon which we look back as an outward sign of an inward spiritual grace. Two such sacraments were given by Christ in the Holy Scriptures: Holy Communion and Baptism (cf. To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism, no. 104). Although only two were mentioned in Scripture, the Anglican tradition has commonly included other Sacraments: confirmation, absolution, ordination, marriage, and the anointing of the sick (cf. To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism, no. 116). It is the Bishop’s joy as well as his Apostolic ministry to lay hands on Christians after their baptism and to pray for a daily increase of the Holy Spirit and empowerment for Christian service (2 Timothy 1:6-7; Acts 8:14-17; 19:6; cf. To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism, nos. 118-119). Confirmation and reception are tangible and outward signs of what God is doing spiritually within us. On days in which we feel overwhelmed, or as though we have failed in our tasks as a father, husband, wife, employee, etc., we can look back not only to our standing as a child of God, but to the moment when we professed our faith in Christ before His church and when the Bishop laid his hands on our head and prayed, “Almighty and everliving God, we ask you to strengthen this your servant for witness and ministry, through the power of your Holy Spirit. Daily increase in him/her the gift of your grace and the fruit of your Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Be Filled with the Spirit

Not only do we (in our frailty) need an outward sign of God’s grace, but the Scriptures also exhort us to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). I imagine that we would all like to see the Holy Spirit at work more powerfully in our daily walk with Christ! Confirmation invites us to grow into the fullness of the Holy Spirit through the Anglican tradition more fully each and every day.

Stories of God’s Faithfulness

Finally, other Christians are blessed when they hear public testimony of God’s saving help. God uses the stories of redemption and restoration in our lives to awaken some out of their spiritual slumber and to encourage others who have grown weakened and frustrated by failed expectations. Those being received, confirmed, or reaffirming their baptismal vows are a testimony of the God who loves us and desires for us to experience His saving help and fulness of joy! Please continue to pray for those in our community who were confirmed or received last Sunday: Ryan Bettwy, Matt Hoppe, Becky Mohr, Dietrich Kuhlmann, Meredith Lloyd, and Michael Dodson. As you see these folks around Restoration, why don’t you ask them to share a bit of their story with you? It is so good to hear how God has brought us all along on our journeys.

Please note that this is a very abbreviated blog entry about confirmation and more information can be found in our Diocesan policy on Confirmation, Reception and Reaffirmation. Also note that the Anglican Church in North America has produced a catechism which can be downloaded here for free!

New Wineskins 2016 – coming soon!

Banner-1Every three years Anglicans in North America gather for an amazing conference: … and it’s coming up soon: April 7-10, 2016.

We would love to see a small team of people attending from Restoration. The Blaines will be there as well as many other folk we are encountering and working with globally. On the last day there will be an additional South East Asia Symposium which will be a wonderful opportunity to hear more about Cambodia and the Blaines (and where we can hoot and holler our support for them!)

Interested? Read more here, sign up and then let Liz know you are going so we can arrange accommodation and travel together! We do have some money available for scholarships as well.

Honestly? You won’t regret it! Join me!

~Liz

 

Embracing the Awkward for God’s Glory and my Own Good

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I find much of Anglicanism to be awkward.

I was chatting with one of my coworkers yesterday about the word choices in the 1979 prayer book compared to the new ACNA liturgy (please don’t stop reading this if that sounds like a really boring conversation).  He mentioned that the response “and with your spirit” feels awkward.  I agreed.  He then contrasted it to “and also with you” which he thought felt more normal.  I thought about it, and I disagreed.  I find them both awkward.

A big part of my engagement with Anglicanism coming from an Evangelical background has been learning to pursue the beauty and truth in the words or actions that might at first feel awkward.

A couple years ago I was getting tired of the really old Eucharist liturgy that we were using during Lent (the one with all the “heartilies” and “oblations”), and the Lord gently corrected me through one of the men’s small group elders who that morning had intentionally read the old english Oswald Chambers’ daily reflection in order to get out of his own head.  I was convicted by his humility in his approach to God’s transforming his life.  He was not looking for the perfect fit for him.  He was looking for something that would reshape his soul by pushing against the resistance in his heart.

I don’t kneel out of physical comfort.  I don’t take a sip from the chalice to quench physical thirst.  I don’t always sing out of wanting to.  I don’t respond with “and with your spirit” as if I think it’s the perfect personal response.  I don’t raise my hands during the Collect for Purity as if they’re just itching to be above my head.  These are ways that I command my soul, my heart, my mind, and my body to bless the Lord.

I am thankful that these Anglican forms of worship have been forming me.  And I exhort you to revisit the kneeling, the clunky phrases, the bread and wine, the hand raising, and other strange acts in order to let them more intentionally shape your posture before the Lord.  To Him be all glory and honor forever and ever.

– Matt

Glen Packium with Rooted Network has written a quick and extremely practical blog on the physicality of worship.  I invite you to check it out.

Save the date: Jesse’s getting ordained!

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The Ven. Tak Meng, Dean of Cambodia, Revd Stephen Seah, Adelai, Sarah, Clara and Jesse Blaine,  Bishop Rennis Ponniah and Gregory Whittaker, Rector of Church of Christ our Peace

Save the date!

When? 7.30pm THURSDAY Oct 22, 2015

Why? Jesse Blaine’s Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate

Where? Restoration Anglican Church

After party? Sure… come along and we’ll tell you where!

So who is Jesse Blaine?IMG_2772

Jesse and Sarah Blaine have been members of Restoration since the beginning of time… well, at least as long as Restoration has been around … and they are now living and working in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with their two delightful daughters. Read all about them here!

Whilst working for World Orphans and Children in Families in Phnom Penh, Jesse has also been very involved with Church of Christ our Peace, studying for his M.A., and putting in time as a father of two,  and husband to Sarah,  and a friend to many AND simultaneously pursuing a call to ordination which has involved a long and sometimes arduous process (see below) – but to a very good end!

At last (phew!)  the has arrived at the day when he will be ordained: initially to the transitional diaconate, and then, we hope, pray and trust, in ~6-12 months, to the presbytery (i.e. to become a Priest).

So come on by on the 22nd – and pray for this good man to walk into all the ministry opportunities that God has in store.

Come and pray for him to make many friends among the Khmer people.

Come and pray for him and his family, as they dream about planting a church in an area of Phnom Penh near the universities.

And, if you sense you are hearing a call to ministry – come and join in the service of ordination and pray for guidance … and if you remain curious about the process… read on!

So how does the ordination process work at Restoration and in our Diocese?

It all begins when an applicant senses a call to ministry; they then have an initial conversation with Liz Gray (Associate Rector with oversight of all applicants), the Rector and Vestry must also approve, and then an application to the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic (DOMA) would follow.

Liz then works with the applicant to set up a discernment team of 5-7 people who will pray and question and help to work with the candidate over a period of months as to whether they really are hearing a call from God to go down the road to ordination. The path from here on is a rigorous one, and you can read the details here. Suffice to say, nobody is ordained lightly! Not only are we, as the candidate’s home parish, deeply involved, but so is DOMA – the ordination committee has a vital role to play, as does the standing committee – and the Bishop works hard to ensure that all are playing their part to ensure that only those who are truly called by God continue down the path.

The journey always involves study, normally an M Div, as well as studies in Anglicanism, much prayer and thoughtful reflection; as well as multiple check -ins at different points with both Liz and the DOMA examining chaplains and ordination committee.

At different points the aspirant becomes a candidate, then a postulant and finally a deacon (transitional or vocational), before the final hurdles are leapt and ordination to the presbytery (oh, wow, Anglican’s love words….)

At the moment we have three candidates in our church (one preparing for a discernment team,  two awaiting the ordination committee) and one postulant (Morgan Reed). They would all love you to pray for them.

Want to know more? Feel free to reach out to me, and if you would like to support our candidates in any way please let me know!

~Liz

Contending for Shalom

I am sitting in IAH–  the Houston airport–  waiting for a flight to Austin.  I have been asked to serve on the steering committee for a conference in February 2016 called The Anglican Justice Gathering:  contending for shalom.  I am joined by my good friends Cliff and Christine Warner, Bill Haley, and Sami DiPasquale.

We are meeting to pray, talk, and build out this purpose statement for our time next February:

The purpose of this gathering is to identify those in the ACNA who would like to be part of this conversation, gather them together, consider together our unique contribution to the Kingdom of God in our North American context as Anglicans, dream together, pray together, and begin discerning together how the Lord might be leading our denomination to engage the systemic brokenness of our country.

It is a conversation that is always close to my heart and one that is increasingly a part of our life together at Restoration.  As we take concrete steps to provide immigration legal aid; as we partner in the good work of Casa Chirilagua;  as we pray and give and contend for the end of human trafficking; as we think about how to leverage our pastoral staff for building of God’s Kingdom in places like Phnom Penh and West Asia.  We are beginning to grow as a church that contends for shalom.  And we have so much more that we could do.

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Last week, I had the immense privilege to participate in a different conversation that was also contending for shalom.  13 men and women from places like Minnesota, Florida, Atlanta, and Washington DC gathered to talk about America’s original sin:  chattel slavery and the trafficking of Africans for economic gain.  We were almost evenly divided between white and black.  We considered how to name the awful legacy of racial oppression in the US for the past 375 years in various forms and to recognize the ongoing effects in the black community.  We mourned the general lack of recognitioin, awareness, and ownership of this reality in the white Christian community.  We considered concrete ways the white Christian community might be able to make a meaningful statement recognizing this reality and the ongoing injustice across racial lines.  We talked about reparations.

In the middle of our day, we walked to a slave cemetery that is on the property of Corhaven.  It had been neglected for 150 years and just recently Bill and Tara Haley had begun the work of cleaning and restoring it. 

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On this day, we went to remember the lives of those buried there and to repent of the evil conditions in which they lived.  As we looked walked amongst the grave stones, depressions, and vegetation, there was a sweet, soft breeze.  It was very comfortable.

One of our fellow conversationalists lead us into prayer by telling us the story of Israel being delivered out of slavery from Egypt.  That story begins with God telling Moses to take off his shoes because he is standing on holy ground.  Max, our prayer leader, invited us to take off our shoes before we started praying.  

Inwardly I groaned.  I was wearing boots.  We were standing in the woods.  I didn’t want my feet to get dirty.

And as I was thinking those things, Max added, “It’s time to get uncomfortable.”  I agreed. 

Standing in bare feet, in crisp leaves, broken sticks, and broken rocks, Max talked through the story of the Seder and the Passover and all the experiential elements that God provided for Israel to remember that they were delivered from slavery.

Then Bill told the story of spending a day clearing brush from the cemetery, piling it up, and burning it.  And how– INCREDIBLY-  a stump that was 30 feet away from the fire started to smoke and then burst into flames.  Seemingly by itself.  As if something was spiritually being released.

David, a black man from Richmond, was the first to pray.  As he started, I could hear what sounded like wind increasing in the distance, but I soon realized that it was approaching rain.  We were holding hands, standing barefoot, praying in the woods in the midst of slave graves and it started to rain—  gently.  David started to cry as he gave thanks for the lives of these men, women, and children and as he mourned the reality of their lives—  that they had to be buried at midnight because their masters would not give them time to do it during the day.  As David closed and others began to pray, the rain increased.  We were soon soaked.  Normally, etiquette would require ending the prayer and getting to shelter.  But there was an unspoken agreement that God was doing something profound:  

  • He didn’t want us to forget this conversation and these prayers so he was giving us a tangible reminder.
  • He was demonstrating his tears over this evil institution
  • He was washing us in our repentance.
  • And a deeply tangible sense that through fire and rain, God was saying, I am with you in this.  Keep going.

Yes.

Here is the incredible part.  As we finished praying, the rain stopped.  A specific grace for a specific task.  We walked back to our meeting room in sunlight and heat that dried our wet shirts and pants.  What a day. 

The conversation will continue.  God is with us in it.

Contending for shalom.  I love that Restoration is beginning to figure out the unique ways it will be part of God’s Kingdom work for justice.  I hope you are listening, making space, and asking how your gifts and talents will be used in this work as well.

Time to get on my plane.

-David

Ascension Day

Songs_of_Innocence_and_of_Experience,_copy_F,_object_38_-HOLY_THURSDAY-And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.  And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes,  and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11 ESV)

Forty days after Easter we remember Christ’s ascension into heaven – with his promise that he would send the Holy Spirit. And so today marks the end of Eastertide, we extinguish the paschal candle and  we wait in eager anticipation to celebrate Pentecost on May 24.

As I thought about the ascension and looked for poetry that would help me pray, I came across the William Blake poem ‘Holy Thursday’ (from his Songs of Innocence and Experience) which tied in so well with  this season where we are exploring the ‘Justice and generosity of God’. An expressive reminder that we are in the ‘now and the not yet’ of the Kingdom of God.

And so today, we pray with gratitude and expectation this collect (BCP, 226)

Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ
ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things:
Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his
promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end
of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and
reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory
everlasting. Amen.

 

~Liz

 

 

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