Of the power of God and not ourselves

July 3, 2020 – Friday Evening

Things which are despised, hath God chosen.1

Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?2

Jesus, … saw two brethren, … casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me.3 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.4

My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.5

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.6 We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God.7

11Co 1:28; 2Act 2:7; 3Mat 4:18,19; 4Act 4:13; 51Co 2:4,5; 6Joh 15:16,5; 72Co 4:7;

(From Bagster’s Daily Light KJV)

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God’s Greatest Miracle?

God is known for many miracles, including the creation of the universe and resurrection from the dead, but perhaps his greatest miracle is forgiveness of our sins.

Everyone is burdened by sin. Looking first (as it is so tempting to do) at the sins of others, we see that many people are poor or broken because of things other people did. A relative neglected or abused me. A criminal attacked or stole from me. A friend betrayed me. We are familiar with these things but, clear as the effects may be, we struggle to find any solution. The grandfather who abused me is dead, the vandal who broke my window ran away, my former friend has moved. The world is an unfair place and we don’t know how to fix it. We can’t imagine what it would look like to erase sin from the world.

Looking inward, we find the more disturbing reality of our own sin. Every one of us has failed to do the things we ought, whether measured by God’s commands or by our own limited aspirations. I have lied, I have neglected someone who needed me, I have failed to keep my promises. We don’t dwell on these things but we recognize our failures. We are deeply flawed and we don’t know how to fix it. We can’t even keep a New Year’s resolution. We can’t imagine what it would look like to erase sin from our own hearts.

Here is where the miracle comes in. Jesus said he did not come to help the righteous, but to save sinners. He pointed out that all sin, in addition to harming our neighbors and ourselves, is an affront to God. What we need most is God’s forgiveness. That is what Jesus offered. Well, it is easy to say “I forgive you” (though we say this too seldom) but what does forgiveness really mean? Jesus’ answer was to allow himself to be unjustly arrested, condemned, tortured, and killed. He took the punishment we deserved on himself. As he was hanging on the cross, he prayed for his accusers: “Forgive them.” That is what forgiveness looks like.

Trusting in God, Christians are bold to confess their sins and to make this plea knowing that it will be granted:

Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father. For your Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, forgive us all that is past.

Forgive us all that is past. That includes all those things we do our best to forget and blush to remember. When we confess our sins and trust in God, he forgives us and lifts the burden of that sin away. This is good news and a true miracle!

Join us in the confession of sin and prayer for forgiveness. It can change your life.

Inspiring Good Morning Prayers, Blessings and Bible Verses
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More to come tomorrow…

Who shall be able to stand?1

Who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap.2

I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more: neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.3

There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.4 Stand fast therefore in the liberty where-with Christ hath made us free.5

1Rev 6:17; 2Mal 3:2; 3Rev 7:9,14,16,17; 4Rom 8:1; 5Gal 5:1;

Join us tomorrow to hear the rest of the story. We are still observing drive through Eucharist. You are invited any time between 10:00 a.m. and Noon. Drive up to the white tent and we will come to you in your car!

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We’re still here!

While it might look a little intimidating, we are still open for drive-thru communion. The enormous trench across the driveway is well cover on the weekends. Communion is available anytime between 10:00 am and Noon on Sunday mornings. Bear left and drive up to the white tent. Stay in your car and we will be happy to serve you!

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Why the Bread & the Wine?

During these days of quarantine, many churches have gotten creative with video and radio broadcasts of prayers to keep their congregations together.

At St. Barnabas, we have found a way to continue to deliver the bread and wine of the Eucharist on Sunday.

Why do we do this? Here is what St. Paul reported to the church in Corinth (1 Cor. 11:23-26):

I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you:  The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

The sharing of bread and wine has been a big deal from the very beginning of the Church, as Paul’s letter demonstrates. Jesus told the Church to do this. We love Jesus and want to do what he directed. It’s as simple as that.

At St. Barnabas we have consulted with folks experienced in virology and public health. Here’s how it works. On Sunday between 10:00 and 12:00 you drive to the church. Signs will direct you to the white tent outside the front door. Stay in your car and the priest will greet you; he will be wearing a plastic face shield. An acolyte wearing gloves will hand you a program. You will recite the Confession of Sins with the priest and hear absolution. Then the priest will hand you a plate containing a wafer (placed there with tongs) and a small plastic cup of wine (filled by the gloved acolyte). You take the plate, eat the wafer, drink the wine, and return the plate and cup. Each visitor gets a different plate and cup, so you won’t be handling anything that isn’t clean. Finally you will get a blessing before you drive on. We look forward to seeing you!

St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish: 1918-2018 – Altar Servers/ Monaguillos
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For the longest time…

A little encouragement from the Phoenix Chamber Choir

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Oh God Our Help in Ages Past…

A favorite hymn by Isaac Watts begins,

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

Our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home.

The hymn is a paraphrase of the 90th Psalm, which explores the contrast between human frailty and God’s eternal faithfulness. The hymn and Psalm are good to ponder at any time, but especially at times of national discord and uncertainty.

We are rightly concerned about what the immediate future will bring. We work to make that future better, but beyond these daily concerns is the fundamental truth that only God is eternal. Only God can finally deal with sin, evil, and death. He has done so in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. There is no other name or cause by which we can be saved. 

In Matthew 11:29, Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Join us for our drive-by Eucharist between 10-12 on Sundays to learn more.

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Saint Barnabas Day! June 11th

June 11 is the feast day of St. Barnabas. Here is how he is introduced in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 4:

With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

So Barnabas was a nickname for Joseph. He was a Levite, which means that he was descended from Levi, one of the sons of the patriarch Jacob. Members of this family traditionally served as assistants to the priests in the Temple. The name Barnabas is given in Greek (the Acts of the Apostles was written in Greek) but it evidently comes from Aramaic. The Aramaic original is not totally clear, but the author of Acts explains that it was meant to mean “son of encouragement” or someone who encourages others.

Joseph (Barnabas) was from Cyprus. This was significant later on. We learn in Acts chapter 11 that the first church missionaries preached only to Jews, but some (including some from Cyprus) preached to Greeks as well. This was going on particularly in Antioch, so the church leaders in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch, presumably to find out what was going on. Here is how the Book of Acts describes the situation:

News of this [conversion of Greeks] came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul [Paul], and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.”

The Book of Acts goes on to relate that Barnabas and Paul were commissioned to go on a missionary journey, and the first place they visited was Cyprus. Barnabas is now considered the patron saint of Cyprus.

Barnabas was a good man, a faithful and effective evangelist, and he is a good person to remember all the year, but especially on June 11.

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Trinity Sunday – June 7, 2020

The Sunday after Pentecost is celebrated as Trinity Sunday in honor of the mystery that God has revealed himself as both one and yet also three. Pondering the life of Jesus, his followers wrestled with the fact that Jesus prayed to God his Father and yet said “I and the Father are one.” John 10:30. How could Jesus and the Father be one? And how did the Holy Spirit fit in, sent from God the Father in Jesus the Son’s name? John 14:26.

It was (and is) one of the most basic beliefs of Judaism that there is only one God. Deuteronomy 6:4. Christians do not deny this, but they have to deal with the witness provided by the life of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit. An analogous situation occurs in physics. Electrons behave both as particles and as waves depending on the particular experiment being conducted. No one knows how anything could be both a particle and a wave, but that is how electrons behave. The physicists’ answer for now is to acknowledge the paradox and give it a name, the wave-particle duality.

The Church came to a similar conclusion. After trying out various ideas (three Gods: no; three parts of God: no; three aspects of God: no), finally it was decided to simply acknowledge the paradox and give it a name, the Trinity. To talk about the mystery, the Church needed some more terminology. There is one God, that was straightforward. But there are three what? That was more of a puzzle. The Latin Church settled on the word “person,” coming from a word that originally meant an actor’s mask but meaning by extension a character or (what we would call) a person. So today we speak of three persons of the Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. On this Trinity Sunday, we celebrate the mystery though we do not pretend to understand it.

The celebration of Trinity Sunday is a gift from the Anglican Church to the world. When he was ordained Archbishop of Canterbury on the Sunday following Pentecost in 1162, Thomas Becket’s first act was to order an annual celebration of the Trinity on that Sunday. When Becket became famous throughout Europe, this practice spread. Why did Thomas Becket become famous? He had a bitter feud with the English king, Henry II, and was finally assassinated in his cathedral at Canterbury by some of the king’s knights. He was widely seen as a Christian martyr and a symbol of the rights of the Church against the power of kings. He was canonized as a saint and a shrine was established for him at Canterbury. The setting of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is a group of pilgrims on their way from London to that shrine.

Come join us on Sunday anytime between 10 a.m. and Noon as we continue our drive-through Eucharist. It takes only a few minutes and you don’t have to leave your car.


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End of the Great 50 Days!

It’s Here!

After Jesus rose from the dead, he was with his friends for 40 days, explaining what his death and resurrection meant and what they must do to establish the Church. On the 40th day, he was taken away (the Ascension), but he said, “Stay in Jerusalem until you are baptized by the Holy Spirit.” His friends did not know exactly what he was talking about, but they stayed and waited. On the fiftieth day after Passover there was the Jewish festival of Shavuot, called in Greek Pentecost (which means fiftieth). On that day, the friends of Jesus were met together and something amazing happened! To learn more, find your Bible (or go online) and read the second chapter of the  Acts of the Apostles (it’s in the New Testament). And you are welcome to join us at St. Barnabas on Sundays for our drive-through Eucharist from 10 a.m. to Noon.

Bishop Auckland & Shildon - Untitled article

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