Week of April 2, 2017

Dear Friends,
Our Lenten journey is approaching its appointed end—Holy Week—and I trust our anticipation for what God has in store for us is also growing. Here are some of the things to take note of this week:
HOLY WEEK:
Maundy Thursday:  Thursday, April 13 beginning at 6:00 pm SHARP!
An Evite was sent out this week (let Georgia know if you did not receive it) and I encourage you to act on it soon.  Take note that the dinner will be part of the worship service (and take place downstairs in Knox’ Fellowship Hall) so it is crucial that we do our best to be on time and ready to participate in the ‘Guided Conversation’ associated with the meal.
Following the meal, we will process upstairs to celebrate the ‘Last Supper’, and reflect on how Jesus transformed the Passover into the New Covenant meal of Holy Communion. We will end the service with the ‘Stripping of the Chancel’ and the ‘Vigil’ in the ‘Garden of Gethsemane’ (Note: the church will be open all night for those who wish to pray. A sign-up sheet is posted in the Fellowship Hall for those who wish to choose a particular hour to pray).
Good Friday:  Friday, April 14 beginning at 6:00 pm.
We gather in our ‘stripped sanctuary’ to reflect on John’s Passion. We will read the entire Passion narrative and intersperse the reading with six personal reflections. Childcare for our nursery aged children will be provided.
Holy Saturday:  Saturday, April 15 beginning at 9:00 am.
We will gather for Morning Prayer—focusing our attention on the reality and pregnancy of Jesus’ death! Then we will restore the sanctuary in all its glory in preparation for our Easter celebration. All are welcome to participate in this.
Easter Day: Sunday, April 16 beginning at 10:15 am.
We gather, with the women of the Passion, in darkness and hear the angel’s news that  ‘The Lord is Risen!’, and then join in the celebration with ‘Angels and archangels, and all the host of heaven.’
We will be ‘Flowering the Cross’ once again, and request that you bring some cut flowers from your garden to give to the children who will perform this service on our behalf.
EASTERTIDE:   The Great Fifty Days of Celebrating the Resurrection
We will be focusing our attention on a number of fronts during the Easter season:
“Discipleship Hour”        Begins on April 30 and runs through June 25, 2017
Two options will be offered for adults (the youth and children programs will also continue):
“Exploring Membership at Christ the Redeemer”—This class is for all who are being led by the Spirit into deepening their relationship with our body. The class focuses on the Three Great Stories that shape our lives: The Gospel, The (Universal) Church, and that of our own community.  Please speak to Fr. Brian if you plan on taking the class, or have any questions concerning it.
“Walk through the Bible”—The Scriptures not only ‘tell’ us ‘who we are’, but ‘shape’ us into ‘becoming who we were created to be’. To grasp the flow of the unified story and how best to ‘live into and by it’ is crucial to our life.
Sacrament of Baptism:  Sunday, May 28, 2017
We will celebrate baptisms on the last Sunday of May. If you would like to be baptized, or have a child baptized, please speak to Fr. Brian by April 30th.
Reflection and Evaluation of Ministry:
As part of our ‘living into our re-newed vision’, the Leadership Council will focus on the health and well being of our existing ministries during Eastertide. Part of that will consist in helping each of us discover our gifts and the most appropriate place of service. Pray for this endeavor, and be prepared to participate in it as appropriate.
Finally, remember that our Saturday Evening Prayer Service continues (from 5:00 – 6:00 pm) for the next two weeks. If you have not had the chance to participate in one of these, please choose one or both of these last two offerings to fulfill your ‘Call to Prayer’ for Lent.
Looking forward to worshiping with you all on Sunday.

Week of March 26

Dear Friends,
Firstly, here is an important note from Jordan O’Byrne:
Friends,
My friend and apartment mate is moving out when our lease comes to an end in June. I am hoping to find a guy who can commit to a year’s lease ending next summer.
My apartment is just a few blocks from the CtR in the beautiful and quiet Colonial Place neighborhood. If you know of anyone who may be looking for a place to rent in Norfolk please call or email me for more information!
Peace be with you,
Jordan O’Byrne
Cell: (757) 375-3023
Email: obi.y.kenobi@gmail.com
Here are a few other things going on right now at Christ the Redeemer:
Please join us this evening for our Lenten ‘Call to Prayer’ Service from 5:00-6:00 PM. We will gather for a time of reflection on the Scriptures, a guided time focusing on and leading towards repentance, and a guided time of intercession for our community. All are welcomed and strongly encouraged to come to one or all of the sessions.
Several of our families have requested to prepare their children for the Sacrament of Baptism. We will gladly take on this task and look towards a celebration of Baptism on Sunday, May 28, 2017. If you are considering this for yourself and/or your child, please let Fr. Brian know by tomorrow, or at least as soon as possible. Brian@ChristtheRedeemer.org
There are two new Women’s Bible studies starting up:
  • The new Thursday morning Bible Study began last week, but it’s not too late to join them.  They meet in the CtR Fellowship Hall at 9:15 AM.  Childcare is provided.  Contact Janis Campbell for more info: janiscampbell58@gmail.com
  • The new Wednesday evening Bible Study begins this week on March 29th at Temple’s house at 7:00 PM.  They will be studying “Finding I Am” by Lysa Terkurst.  They welcome and encourage new members.  Contact Temple Richardson at 489-7805 for more info.
The next Discipleship Hour session begins on April 30, 2017.  One of the classes that will be offered is the ‘Exploring Membership’ class.  If you are new to Christ the Redeemer or if you have been with us for a while and are moved to deepen your relationship with the church,  you are highly encouraged to sign up for the class. Please contact Fr. Brian to sign up or for more information. Brian@ChristtheRedeemer.org
I look forward to worshiping with you all tomorrow.

 

 

The ‘Call to Prayer’ for Lent

A Reflection on the Call to Prayer for Lent:
At our last Leadership Council meeting we began with the question: ‘Where do you see the Spirit’s movement within and among us at Christ the Redeemer?’  It is a question we return to often. For me, the answer was dramatically clear: within the growth of our Community Life groups. Let me explain.
When the church was planted, Janis and my children were the only ones still living at home among the original six couples! This (predominantly) empty-nest group chose to combine the ‘communal’ and ‘discipling’ aspects of their lives by forming same-sex Discipleship-focused study groups. These were blessed by God initially with slow, but steady growth.
When the first wave of young families with children arrived, their longing was for ‘community’—especially community which included and involved their children–and this took precedence over their desire for ‘discipleship’ (though it did not eliminate this!). These gathered together (with their children in tow) to share a meal, to get to know one another, to pray together, and—over time—develop the trust to go deeper together.  God has blessed this initial grouping beyond my comprehension.
That initial group grew over time that it eventually gave birth to a second group (one meeting in Chesapeake, the other a combination of Norfolk and Virginia Beach).  To the initial draw of ‘affinity’, the pole of ‘geography’ began to exercise a greater influence. In the next two years, the second group (the Norfolk-Virginia Beach one) has birthed a second and third group, and is now prepared to give birth to a fourth (three of which will be based in Norfolk, one in Virginia Beach). That, to me, is a sign of the Spirit’s blessing.
If the Spirit continues to bless this movement, could we expect to see those three Norfolk groups multiply into six in a year or two?  I, for one, am eager to find out.
But here is the thing: only 40% of our Norfolk contingent are involved in these ‘Community Life’ groups. If we could form three such groups from the 40%, could we form four from 60%, five from 80%, or (dare I say it), six from 100% of us who hail from Norfolk? And again, IF the Spirit continues to bless these groupings, might we see six, (or eight, or ten, or twelve!) such groups in the next year or two?
In our renewed vision for our community, we have discerned that God desire us to ‘intentionally grow’ (which means we are committed to discerning and cooperating with the Spirit), ‘Norfolk-centric’ church (which means that while we seek growth from all areas, we especially seek growth from Norfolk, the ‘mother’ of the ‘mother-to-be’ church).
All of this raises a question:  If you are not presently involved in one of these ‘Community groups’, is the Spirit stirring you up, at the present moment, to become part of this movement?  Especially if you reside in Norfolk: is this the time for you –and your family– to become involved?
I would encourage all of us to add this to our Lenten prayers. Seek the direction of the Spirit in this, as in all things.

Week of March 19

Dear Friends,
Firstly, please join us this evening for our Lenten ‘Call to Prayer’ Service from 5:00-6:00 PM. We will gather for a time of reflection on the Scriptures, a guided time focusing on and leading towards repentance, and a guided time of intercession for our community. All are welcomed and strongly encouraged to come to one or all of the sessions.
Here are a few other things coming up at Christ the Redeemer:
1.  Next Sunday, March 26th, is the deadline to register for the CtR Men’s Softball Team.  The information is as follows:
  • Season begins April 14th
  • Season consists of 16 games on Tuesday nights
  • Cost is $30 per person
  • Checks should be made to Christ the Redeemer with “Softball” in the memo line
  • Tshirts are available to order until March 24th
For more information or to register, please contact Steven Dickens at stevendickens548@gmail.com
2.  There is still time to sign up for the Women’s Retreat if you haven’t yet done so.  We have a wonderful time of prayer and fellowship, so please join us.  Contact Janie Atwood at maryjaneatwood@gmail.com for more information.
3.  Vacation Bible School will be June 26-30 this year.  Since it will be more ‘missional’ with a lot of outreach to our local community this year, we will need lots of volunteers for everything, from prepping scenery to being group leaders.  Please contact Jennifer Brown if you are willing and able to help in any way.  brownie7506@yahoo.com
4.  There will be a new Thursday morning Women’s Bible Study beginning this week on March 23rd in the CtR Fellowship Hall at 9:15 AM.  They will be discussing the book, Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren.  The book can be purchased through our Amazon store here.  Childcare is provided.  Contact Janis Campbell for more info: janiscampbell58@gmail.com
5.  Several of our families have requested to prepare their children for the Sacrament of Baptism. We will gladly take on this task and look towards a celebration of Baptism sometime during Eastertide (April 30 through end of May). If you are considering this for yourself and/or your child, please let Fr. Brian know by March 26. Brian@ChristtheRedeemer.org
I look forward to worshiping with you all tomorrow.

Reflections on the ‘Call to Prayer’

We have been blessed by growth recently; and that is without much ‘intentionality’ on our part!  Our Leadership Council is concerned with the implications—and hoped-for-expectations—of its continuing. Here is the question that was raised at our meeting last Saturday:
‘What happens when we add 30 more people in worship?’
That question opened a conversation that focused on the realities of our facility; both in the present moment and the not-too-distant future. Two main foci came into view, one logistical, the other missional.  Let me explain:
The logistical is the easiest to discern. We are fast approaching the limits of our current space, both in terms of worship capacity, and in terms of secondary space. The question then becomes; what do we do then? Do we move to two services (effectively forming two churches) or seek a new facility? If we are to seek a new facility, do we seek to lease or to purchase; that is, do we seek another interim site (assuming there is one available) or a more permanent setting?
As an aside, let me assure you that the Council has agreed that IF a permanent site is in our future—whenever that future arrives—that we will enter it in partnership with other ministries; another church, or a school, or some other Christian ministry. This conviction is based on two factors: one, we cannot justify possessing a building that would not be used seven days a week; two, we do not see ourselves ever large enough to completely finance such a facility on our own. But this raises yet another question: Given this desire for partnership in any permanent action, if we are being led to consider such a move, are we also being led to ascertain that (those) partnership(s)?
As you can see, as you address one issue a host of other questions quickly come to the fore.
And what about the missional concern?
There are three primary ways that an Anglican church grows: Tribally, Attractionally, and Missionally.  By ‘Tribally’, I mean the growth that occurs when people who are already Anglican, or who are on the proverbial ‘Canterbury Trail’, move into our area and seek us out. By ‘Attractionally’, I mean the growth that comes when members of our community invite friends and neighbors into our community, most often through our home groups. By ‘missionally’, I mean that growth that comes through our own active ministry in the wider community, both evangelistically and through compassionate service.
The reality is that we at Christ the Redeemer are seeing growth through the first two means- Tribally and Attractionally—but not yet from the third–Missionally. Why is that? And what impact might our current conception of our location have on that question?
Let me put that another way. We are actively engaged in supporting multiple ministries in and around Norfolk. Fully 5% of our budget is directed towards this end (Currently we support the Ghent Area Ministries, Park Place School, Focus Center, and the Foodbank of Southeast Hampton Road). However, we have not seen a true ‘partnership’ develop with any of these good and godly ministries.  Why might that be?
Could it be partially because we have not settled on a permanent location? Because we can do ‘anything, anywhere’ (that is, we are able to choose to partner with any number of worthy missions regardless of their location), that this has impeded us from doing ‘something, somewhere’ (that is, discerning a specific partner within a specific location).
Would discerning a permanent location, and a permanent partner, unleash our missional growth?
These are the questions that are gripping the minds and hearts of our Leadership Council. On Saturday we authorized a search committee to begin to ascertain viable sites for lease or purchase on the west side of Norfolk. We also authorized a finance committee that is charged with addressing the financial implications of either a new lease (and renovation) or a possible purchase. If you are feeling called to participate in either of these endeavors, please let us know.
But for now, can I ask you to join with the Council in praying through these issues? Again, we do not want to think our way into strategy, we long to pray our way into them. Where is the Spirit leading us? What is the Spirit asking of us?
Pray for continued – and yes, ‘intentional’—growth; tribally, attractionally, and missionally;
Pray for our next site; and for whether it needs to be another interim one or a more permanent one;
Pray for the discernment of our specific, local, missional partner; one who will allow us to live into our local mission effectively, as well as bear the burden and the blessing of a ‘home’ together.
Pray, as in all things, that God’s will be done and God’s Kingdom come, even in and through these logistical and missional concerns.

Week of March 12

Dear Friends,
Here are a few important things going on this week at CtR:
First, we hope that you will join us tomorrow (Saturday) evening for our Lenten ‘Call to Prayer’ Service from 5:00-6:00 PM.  We will gather for a time of reflection on the Scriptures, a guided time focusing on and leading towards repentance, and a guided time of intercession for our community.  All are welcomed and strongly encouraged to come to one or all of the sessions.
Second, tomorrow night, we spring forward an hour, so don’t forget to set your clocks ahead before you go to bed so you’ll be on time for Discipleship Hour or worship Sunday morning.
Third, registration for the Men’s softball team ends on March 26th.  If you are interested in signing up or would like more information, please contact Steven Dickens at stevendickens548@gmail.com.
Fourth, there is still time to register for the Women’s Retreat that will be at Camp Chanco on the James River from April 21-23.  If you are interested in attending, please contact Janie Atwood at maryjaneatwood@gmail.com or Jennifer Brown at brownie7506@yahoo.com.
Finally, mark your calendars: Vacation Bible School will be June 26-30 this year, and it will be here before we know it!  We are looking for volunteers to help out with everything that goes along with it.  Please contact Jennifer Brown at brownie7506@yahoo.com if you are willing and able to help out in any way.
I look forward to worshiping with you on Sunday.

Lenten ‘Call to Prayer’

Someone asked me this week if I could explain the context to the ‘Call to Prayer’ for our community during Lent. Let me do so briefly in this ‘Update’.
In 2016, our Leadership Council took eight months to prayerfully discern a ‘Renewed Vision’ for our community—‘renewed’ in the sense that while the original vision remained true, our present circumstances cried out for clarification. Here is that vision:
“We believe that we are called to

INTENTIONALLY GROW

A DISCIPLESHIP-Focused

Consciously ANGLICAN

NORFOLK-Centric

‘MOTHER-To-BE’ Church”

Let me clarify some aspects of the vision:
First, by ‘intentionally’, we mean ”to prayerfully discern, and begin to cooperate with, the directing of the Spirit.’ We have no desire to ‘think’ our way into strategy; we desire to ‘pray’ our way into it. Thus, the major impetus for the ‘Call to Prayer’.
Second, we intend to grow both in ‘depth’ (that is, maturity) and in ‘breadth’ (in numbers). The focal point of ‘Discipleship’ will continue to dominate our strategies.
Third, in terms of the ‘Norfolk-centricity’ of the ‘Mother-to- be’, a few things need to be mentioned:
  • First, ‘Regional’ churches do not plant churches; ‘Local’ churches do!  We have been blessed by growth from all over the Southside of Hampton Roads; and we pray that it will continue. However, for the vision of church-planting to become a reality, while we need to double our attendance from Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach, we need to triple it in Norfolk! Thus, one aspect of ‘Norfolk-centric’;
  • Furthermore, when we think about the development of ‘local mission’, it makes sense to center that ‘mission’ around the center of our life; that is, the place where we worship.  Yet another aspect of ‘Norfolk-centric’.
If the task of 2016 was to ‘Craft the Vision’; then the task for 2017 is to ‘Cast the Vision’—that is, to SPEAK it, to EMBRACE it, to LIVE INTO it, and to ALIGN our common life with it.
That is what our ‘Call to Prayer’ is all about this Lent.
As the Leadership of the Church continues to ‘speak’ the vision, will you commit to pray about and within the vision? Will you allow the Spirit to affirm it within you, and enable you to embrace it? Will you ask the Spirit to direct you in ‘living into’ the vision?
The Council has crafted a number of ways for you to do so this Lent: the Bookmark and Prayer Insert suggesting specific ways to pray during the weeks of Lent; the Saturday Evening Prayer Service (5:00 – 6:00 pm); specific ways in which our home groups can encourage prayer and discernment. Our hope is to craft times in Eastertide to gather together to begin to hear what God has been saying during our Lenten prayers. I, for one, look eagerly forward to those gatherings.
Looking forward to worshiping with you on Sunday.
Continue to live into God’s Holy Lent.
Brian+