Week of May 31: Trinity Sunday

Dear Friends
We come to another transitional moment in our liturgical calendar this week – Trinity Sunday! It is a feast day of the Church (thus ‘white’ for the liturgical color), but is the only ‘Festival Day’ that is not directly associated with an event in redemptive history. Trinity Sunday always follows Pentecost and introduces ‘Ordinary Time’. It assures us that as we go out into this ‘ordinary world’ we do so in the presence and power of the Tri-une God himself.
There are a couple of things to note this week:
  • First, please keep our Vacation Bible School in your prayers this month. It takes place on June 29 through July 3. If you have not yet registered your child (or grandchild) or invited that neighbor’s child to consider it, then please do so as soon as possible. Here is the link for more information.

  • Second, our Rwandan School Project Campaign continues for the next few weeks – culminating on June 21. We are grateful for the outpouring of support for the project among many associated with Christ the Redeemer. Our hope is that this will be a full-member project (at whatever level of giving God lays on our hearts). Please prayerfully consider making your pledge by Sunday June 21 (the pledges can be placed in the offering baskets on Sunday mornings).

Looking forward to worshiping with you on Sunday.

Betrayal or Communion

ING Two Small Children Reaching Up SMThe compilers of the lectionary for the Daily Office love Psalm 37!  It occurs no less than eight times within the liturgical year, and always on a Thursday (set for both the morning and the evening office).  Truth be told, the selections from the psalter are set in a seven week repeating pattern (thus, every day in the Daily Office will have the same pattern with different psalms).  It just so happens that ‘Thursdays’ have become my go-to day for my ‘Reflections’ and thus David’s Psalm 37 is a frequent companion.

I am drawn to Psalm 37 (as you can tell by my past reflections) but have been intrigued to discover its association with Thursday.  The Daily Office is set to reflect the Passion of Jesus on a weekly basis, with an emphasis on the Great Triduum (Maundy Thursday through Easter Sunday).  Thus, ‘Fridays’ psalms are frequently affliction psalms corresponding to the Great Affliction that makes us whole; ‘Saturdays’ psalms are typically ‘trusting’ or ‘waiting’ psalms corresponding to Christ’s experience on Holy Saturday; ‘Sundays’ psalms are ones of praise and exultation pointing towards the glory of the resurrection.

And ‘Thursdays’ psalms?  Dare we say that they are typically ‘decision’ psalms- psalms which present us with a choice between faithfulness and faithlessness when faced with difficult circumstances? The choice between ‘betrayal’ and ‘deeper communion’ that characterized the evening of Maundy Thursday?

David’s circumstances – both personally and societally- have definitely changed. ‘Evildoers’ and ‘wrongdoers’ seemingly are blessed; those who ‘carry out evil devices’ apparently ‘prosper in (their) way’!

In the light of those changing and challenging circumstances the choice before the faithful ones is clear: either we ‘fret’ or we ‘trust’!  Either we give in to ‘fear’ and ‘anger’, to ‘envy’ and ‘anxiety’, or we choose to embrace and deepen a way of life that increases ‘trust in the LORD’ (v3), where we can ‘delight .. in the LORD’ (v4), where we ‘(re)commit our way to the LORD’ (v5), where we consciously and practically order our lives so we can ‘be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him’ (v7).

Please note, David is not advocating withdrawal from the world! We are to ‘trust in the LORD and do good!’ (v3), to ‘commit our way to the LORD…and he will act’ and his action will be seen in our vindication within and before the world (“He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday’ v.6).

Nonetheless David presents us with a fundamental choice in the face of difficult circumstances: ‘betrayal’ –through the giving in to fear and anger and envy, or ‘deeper communion’ –through an embrace of the disciplines that open us to grace.

In the mist of the circumstances of your day, which choice are you making?

Week of May 24: The Day of Pentecost

Here are a few things to know about what is happening in and around Christ the Redeemer this week:

  • First, Park Place School has their end of year Talent Show this evening. The event takes place at New Life Providence Church (1420 Colonial Ave., Norfolk near Harris Teeter) beginning at 6:30 pm. Everyone is welcome to attend.

  • Second, this Sunday we get to celebrate Pentecost and the amazing gift of the Spirit. ‘Red’ is the color for the day and we are all encouraged to wear something red this Sunday and come ready to worship.

  • Third, Our Mbyo School Project Luncheon last weekend raised nearly $7,000 in gifts and/or pledges towards the cost of building additional rooms onto our sister parish’s local school. We are grateful for this outpouring of support and ask God’s blessing upon the gifts, the givers and those who will benefit from the funds. The Missions group and the Leadership Council are encouraging all who are associated with Christ the Redeemer to prayerfully consider what God would have them contribute to the project. Pledge cards will be available in the bulletins for the next few weeks. As our Membership Covenant states, we believe God asks us to give ‘prayerfully, sacrificially, proportionately and joyfully’.

Looking forward to worshiping with you all on Sunday.

His exaltation enables and assures our exaltation.

Beautiful blue skyBut we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor… Hebrews 2: 9

Today is Ascension Day, the day when we are asked to reflect on and celebrate the exaltation of Jesus to the right hand of God.  In other words, we are asked to reflect on and celebrate that at a moment in time, and as the climax of redemption, a particular flesh-and-blood human being was elevated to share in the very glory of God!

That is both an amazing, and an amazingly difficult thing to do. To aid us in doing so, the other lections set for today are helpful.

First, David expresses wonder as he contemplates the reflected glory of God seen in the creation itself (Psalm 8).    God’s glory is ‘set…above the heavens’ and yet is reflected wonderfully within the ‘heavens and the earth’. When he reflects on the greatness of that reflected glory he wonders ‘what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?’  And yet, he says, ‘you have given him dominion over the works of your hands…’

David wonders at the role and the honor bequeathed to humanity by our Creator; a role and honor which is not eradicated by our fallenness.  We are asked today to contemplate the wonder of that role and honor now absolutely purified and perfected in and by Jesus.  Difficult to do, yes, but not impossible.

Second, turn to the text from Ezekiel and read about the prophet’s encounter with the ‘direct’ glory of God (go ahead and read the entire first chapter and try to imagine the unimaginable).  What is the impact of this encounter with glory?  He fell on his face, and needed the gift of the Spirit of God to be raised to his feet (Ezekiel 2:2).

The direct glory of God is so far above us that it overwhelms us. And yet, we are asked to believe that JESUS now shares in that glory. Take some time today to contemplate and celebrate that fact. That this particular human being, Jesus of Nazareth, now shares fully and truly in the glory of God.

But don’t stop there!  Go on to contemplate that he does so ‘on our behalf and in our place’!  He does so as the Messiah of Israel, the One who embodies and represents the people who were called to embody and represent humanity.  As the exalted Messiah he becomes the Last Adam, the One through whom God gives birth to a new humanity; a new humanity that shares in his glory, even as he shares in the very glory of God.

His exaltation enables and assures our exaltation.
That too is something to contemplate.
That too is something to celebrate.

Take some time today to wonder and rejoice in the Ascension of Jesus.

Week of May 17

This Week at Christ the Redeemer:

As we near the end of our Easter season we come to the last of our Mission Focused Opportunities.

  • MBYO SCHOOL PROJECT:  On Sunday after worship we gather for a time of fellowship (over a catered lunch) and a presentation by our Missions group concerning the School Development Project in Mbyo, Rwanda, our sister parish in the Diocese of Kigali.  Our Missions group and our Leadership Council have enthusiastically endorsed the project and are eager to share it with all of us.  This is an important step in our developing relationship with Mbyo . I encourage us all to stay for the lunch and the presentation and to be open and expectant to the Spirit’s prompting of your own involvement within it.

  • VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL is set for June 29- July 3. If you have not yet registered your child you can do so online through the link on our web page: christtheredemeer.org. If you have friends or neighbors who may be interested in participating in the VBS, please direct them to our web page or to Jennifer directly (brownie7506@yahoo.com).

Looking forward to worshiping with you on Sunday.

Week of May 10

This Week at Christ the Redeemer:

Spring and Eastertide and Mission (‘New Creation’ blossoming within the ‘Old’) just seem to go together.  Let me remind you of our missional opportunities of this new season:

  • RWANDAN SCHOOL PROJECT LUNCH AND PRESENTATION takes place next Sunday, May 17 immediately following worship. We will enjoy a catered lunch, good fellowship, and a presentation concerning an exciting project in Mbyo, Rwanda that we have been invited to participate in. Mark you calendars now and make sure you are present next Sunday.

  • COMPASSION SPONSORSHIP:  This is the last opportunity for you to pick up one of the sponsor packets we have on site for children in Rwanda. The packets may be found on the table underneath the bulletin board in the Fellowship Hall.

  • PARK PLACE SCHOOL MENTORSHIP:  If you have an open heart and one hour a week you can make a huge difference in a child’s life right here at home! If you would like to mentor a student at Park Place School please contact Schylar Harrison at 757-624-3473.

  • VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL:  Jennifer asks that all of those who volunteered to provide materials for VBS  bring them in to the church by this Sunday, May 10 (if you need to you can drop them off at church Thursday between 9 am and 1 pm).  Also, registration is now open. Please ensure that your children are registered, and consider prayerfully inviting a friend (especially those not yet connected to any church) to bring their children along as well.

On Sunday, May 10 Janis and I will be in Harrisonburg for Ian’s graduation. I am grateful for the Rev. Dan Waterman for agreeing to celebrate and preach in my absence. You are in good hands this Sunday.