Watch & Pray

We made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them.1

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.3 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith.4

Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?5 Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.6

Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.7

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.8
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1Neh 4:9; 2Mat 26:41; 3Col 4:2; 41Pe 5:7-9; 5Luk 6:46; 6Jam 1:22; 7Exo 14:15; 8Phi 4:6,7;

(From Bagster’s Daily Light – KJV)

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New Book of Common Prayer

One of the glories of the Anglican tradition has been the use of a Book of Common Prayer.  Christians in the United States, England, Australia, India, and elsewhere could know that they were following (generally) the same liturgy and saying the same prayers.  This unity has fractured over the years, sometimes for good reasons (to modernize language to make it more understandable) and sometimes for bad (to downplay doctrines like sin that made some people uncomfortable).   The ACNA has been working for about ten years to develop a Book of Common Prayer, and it has now been published.  Join us on Sunday July 21 at 9:10 a.m. (between the two liturgies) to discuss the new book as we evaluate whether the authors have fulfilled their mandate to update the language (eliminating the “thee’s” and “thou’s”) while retaining the core theological principles of orthodox Christianity.

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BCP 2019

 

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Inspiration from Hymns

A popular English Hymn begins like this:

O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,

Our shelter from the stormy blast and our eternal home.

Under the shadow of thy throne thy saints have dwelt secure,

Sufficient is thine arm alone and out defence is sure.

Before the hills in order stood or earth received her frame,

From everlasting thou art God to endless years the same.

The words are by Isaac Watts (1674-1748) and are based on Psalm 90, which begins:

Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world

From everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Early Reformation hymns were often based on Psalms, but tended to stick closely to the original text.  Isaac Watts allowed himself more license to follow the meaning of his sources.  The whole hymn is worth comparing to the whole psalm.  Watts captures the central thought, which is the dependence of mortal man on the timeless and protective power of God.  It is comforting (in the old sense of strengthening) to know that God is constantly present, always willing our good if we will only acknowledge and trust him. 

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What Does God Think About Sin?

What does God think about Sin? The answers may surprise you.

God is utterly opposed to every sin, even small ones.  Not because God is a picky killjoy, but because God knows that sins separate us from him and from one another.  Jesus shocked his listeners when he said (Matthew 5:21):

You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder” and “Whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that if you are angry with your brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment.

 And again (Matthew 5:43):

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”  But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

 And again (Matthew 5:48):

 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

All sins are serious and all sins are against God.  That’s a tough standard, isn’t it?  Be as perfect as God?  It’s impossible!  

There are lots of people, including lots of Christians, who think, “I’m a pretty good person, better than a lot of people I see around me.  I haven’t been arrested, I recycle, I don’t drink (much), I give to beggars (occasionally), people like me.”  On the standards of the world, they are right.  But on the standards of God, they fall short.  Jesus told this story (Luke 18:10):

Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee [an outwardly pious man] and the other a tax collector [a despised collaborator with the Roman occupation troops].  The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people:  thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week, I give a tenth of all my income.”  But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!”  I tell you, this man went down to his home justified, rather than the other, for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.

The Pharisee thought he was doing all he needed to do, and he was in danger of adding pride to his other sins.  The tax collector knew he was in trouble.  Jesus’ point is that everyone is in trouble, everyone falls short of God’s perfect standard.  Even Jesus’ closest followers asked, “Then who can be saved?”  (Matthew 19:25).  Jesus’ answer is remarkable (Matthew 19:26):  “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”  

God’s standard is perfection, and none of us measures up.  We are all in trouble and it is impossible for us to save ourselves.  God could do it if he wanted to, but does he want to?  Yes!  That is why Jesus came to us.  Next time you see one of those “John 3:16” signs at a sporting event, remember that the Gospel of John says this, quoting Jesus:  “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”  When Jesus says that God “gave” his only son, he means that he came to earth to die for our sins, to take the punishment (death and separation from God) that was rightfully ours.

Several things follow.  There are no minor sins.  All sins are a big deal and they separate us from God.  We need to recognize this and, like the tax collector, humbly throw ourselves on God’s mercy, remembering with gratitude Jesus’ sacrifice of himself for us. 

Remember that serious sin you committed, it might have been last week or years ago?  You lied, or cheated, or stole, or ignored someone in need, or maybe did something worse.  You would never tell anyone about it, but it sits there in your memory. There is no way to go back and make things right, and you can’t forgive yourself.  Here is some really good news:  God wants to forgive you and he offers forgiveness, even for that secret sin.  All you need to do is to trust in Jesus and say, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!”  This is not a magical incantation, it is taking advantage of God’s own self-sacrifice in the way that God intends.  

At St. Barnabas, we say every Sunday:

Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, judge of all men, we acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we from time to time most grievously have committed, by thought, word, and deed, against thy divine majesty, provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us.  We do earnestly repent and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings.  The remembrance of them is grievous unto us, the burden of them is intolerable.  Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us most merciful Father.  For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, forgive us all that is past, and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please thee in newness of life, to the honor and glory of thy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. (1928 B.C.P.)

This summarizes what was said above:  all sins are serious, we are in trouble and can’t help ourselves, but we humble ourselves and, trusting in the sacrifice of Jesus, ask for forgiveness.  Do you need forgiveness in your life?  Join us and find out the joy you can have when you find out you are forgiven by God!

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Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  (Gospel of Luke 18:10 ESV)

 

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Better than Junk Trunk Parking Lot Sale

The better than Junk Trunk Sale!

Members of St. Barnabas will be loading up their trunks, with stuff to offer many sale bargains. They will drive to the church and display all of their wares for sale! After 3:00 pm , they will load up unsold items and drive home!

It is that easy! It is a lot of fun! Join the church family as we clean house, and reuse, recycle or re-purpose those items that take up space in your home, but can be used and enjoyed by others.

All contributions donated to the church for this fund raiser will appear on an annual contributions statement!

When?  Saturday, June 29               9:30 am – 3 pm

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God Bless Your Week!

If you find cause for joy, give thanks to God, who wants you to have joy with him forever.

If you find disappointment or suffering, remember that God loved you so much that he sent his son, Jesus, to suffer and die in your place to take away the consequences of sin.

In all things, seek to see God, who is always there, like the sun shining on a house with the blinds drawn.https://hips.hearstapps.com/wdy.h-cdn.co/assets/16/01/20160104-verse_1thessalonians5_1.jpg

And may the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his son Jesus Christ our Lord, and may the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among us, and remain with us always!

 

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Remembering St. Alban

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Tomorrow, June 22 is the feast day for St. Alban, who is remembered as the first British martyr.  It is difficult here to separate fact from legend.  He is supposed to have died around the year 304, but the best known version of his story first appeared in the Ecclesiastical History written by the British church historian Bede around 400 years later.  The story is set at a time when the Romans occupied Britain.  Alban was living at Verulamium.  (The town is now called St. Alban’s; it was very important in Roman times.)  There was a persecution of the Christians and a Christian priest asked Alban to hide him. Alban took him into his house and was soon converted to Christianity and baptized.  When soldiers came to search the house, Alban disguised himself as the fugitive and was arrested in his place. He proclaimed his belief in Christianity and was condemned to death. It is said that his executioner was so impressed with his witness that he refused to perform his office and a second executioner had to be found.

The story of St. Alban reminds us that the history of Christianity in the English-speaking world is very old.  It also reminds us that Christianity is still persecuted in many parts of the world.

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Trinity Sunday

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June 16, the Sunday after Pentecost, is festival dedicated to one of the deepest divine mysteries:  the Holy Trinity.  God has revealed himself in three persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We don’t understand this fully, but we do see that at some deep level God embodies relationship, which seems to tie in with the Good News that God is love.

The roots of this celebration are old:  Thomas Becket (1118–70) was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury on the Sunday after Pentecost and he dedicated this day to the Holy Trinity. After his assassination, he was revered as a saint and his idea of Trinity Sunday spread, first throughout Europe and later to America, including Shoreline.

Given the long history of Christianity, most Sundays (in fact most weekdays) of the year have become associated with saints, significant events, or theological concepts.  Attending every week gives you access to this rich heritage.

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Pentecost!

Sunday, June 9, is the festival of Pentecost, which is 50 days after Easter.  The name just means “fifty” in Greek.  The English name, Whitsunday (or Whitsun) is also not very helpful, as it means “White Sunday” and reflects the peculiar English tradition of wearing white vestments on this day (red is more usual in the United States and elsewhere).  So what’s the deal?  Pentecost celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church.  Here is what happened originally.  The day of Jesus’ resurrection (Easter) corresponded with Passover.  The Jews had a festival fifty days after Passover (and they still do) called the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot, celebrating the giving of the Law (Torah) to Israel.  Before he ascended to heaven, Jesus told his disciples to remain in Jerusalem to receive the Holy Spirit.  They probably did not know what to expect, but they waited.  When the festival of Shavuot (called by Greek speaking Jews Pentecost) arrived, the disciples were gathered together.  Suddenly they found themselves praising God in words they had never spoken before.  This was a kind of “speaking in tongues” that sounded very strange at first, but visitors to Jerusalem from all parts of the Roman Empire and beyond said, “Hey, you are speaking in my language!”  This was a sign that the Holy Spirit was with the Church and would help the followers of Jesus spread the good news around the world.  That great project continues.  St. Barnabas is here to help spread the good news of Jesus in Shoreline and beyond.  You are welcome to join us.  If you come this Sunday, you will see our special commemoration of Pentecost.

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A Sobering Thought

There is a “permanent hatred of the Catholic faith which is inseparable from the existence of the Church on Earth. . . .  Such hatred is natural and inevitable.  All energy polarises, and the Catholic Church is the most powerful source of energy on earth.  It provokes an opposite pole.  Further, the Church is at issue everywhere with man as he is, restricting him always, and, at some time or other in nearly every man’s life, violently at issue with pride, ambition, or desire.  Over and above, and more powerful still as a provocative, is the Church’s claim to absolute authority  and universal moral dominion.”  Hilaire Belloc, How the Reformation Happened.

St. Barnabas is part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.  It seems odd to say that Christianity “restricts” people.  Doesn’t God want us to be happy and carefree?  The answer is, yes, but you don’t get that way by ignoring God’s commands.  Think of a marathon runner.  She wants to do well and to enjoy the race.  Does she sit around in a thoughtless and carefree manner until the race starts?  No, she trains hard and heeds the advice of experts.  We want to flourish and live with the loving God forever.  We need to train, heeding the advice of Jesus, the Son of God.  But be warned:  God’s rules will inevitably conflict with our pride, ambition, and desire.  This is not because God wants to rain on our parade, but because he wants us to join the parade that is truly blessed for eternity.  The sin in us must someday die, and we might as well start now.

Haven’t bad things been done in the name of the Church?  Yes of course.  Do Christians claim to be better than other people?  No.  The Church is made up of flawed and sinful people.  Consequently, the Church’s authority does not rest on the goodness or wisdom of its mortal members, but on the wisdom of Jesus, through whom we were created.and who lived as a man to show us God’s ways.  When the Church listens to Jesus and follows his teachings, it does well. When the Church forgets its mission, it does poorly.  That is why our focus must always be on Jesus and that is why the Church is always reforming itself.  It’s an exciting ride, and you are welcome to join.

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