Week of September 3, 2017

Here are some of the you need to be aware of  this week at Christ the Redeemer:
  1. KITCHEN DE-CLUTTERING – A number of containers, serving plates and pans have been left behind from various pot-lucks/hospitality functions. In an effort to de-clutter our small kitchen, those items have been placed on a table in the Fellowship Hall. Please check the table this Sunday and see if any of the pieces belong to you. Anything left on the table will be eventually donated to charity.
  2. DISCIPLESHIP HOUR returns on Sunday, September 10 at 9 am. Our focus this Fall will be on the “Stewarding of our God-given Resources” – both our finances and our own personal gifts. Details of the courses may be found on our website (christtheredeemer.org) and in the insert in the bulletin.
  3. NEW WOMEN’S COURSES – We have two opportunities for the women of the church to gather for study and fellowship: Wednesday nights at 7 pm beginning September 13 and Thursday mornings at 9:15 beginning September 14. Details of the courses may be found on the website and in the bulletin insert. All women are encouraged to come to one or both of these opportunities.
  4. HELP NEEDED – We need some folks with trucks to help us take down a wall on Saturday, September 9 from 11 am – 1 pm. If you can help please contact Bob Atwood (314) 614-8629.
  5. LOOKING AHEAD – There are two important dates to place on your calendar:
    a. Sunday, September 10 after Worship: Congregational Meeting. Our Leadership Council has been busy this year on multiple fronts and want to share with those who are able to be in worship that day. Plan now to stay after Worship and hear about these exciting developments.
    b. Friday October 6 – Sunday, October 8: Our Annual visit from Bishop Steve and Sally Breedlove. Plan now on being in Worship on Sunday, October 8. Bishop Breedlove will be addressing all of us during the Discipleship Hour that morning, then will preach, celebrate and confirm at the service to following.
  6. HURRICANE HARVEY RELIEF – The destruction has been devastating for those living in the western Gulf states. If you are looking for a way to help those impacted by the storm, please consider the Anglican Relief and Development Fund. (More information about the fund may be found here: http://anglicanchurch.net/?/main/page/1508).  You can help by donating through the Anglican Relief and Development Fund there.
I look forward to worshiping with you on Sunday.
Brian+

A Reflection From The Daily Office

 

If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

Psalm 11:3

It is disappointing at times not to know the historical context of many of David’s psalms.  Take Psalm 11, last evening’s set psalm, for example: from the superscription we know that it is a psalm of David handed over to the choirmaster—set to be sung at worship in the temple—but otherwise we are in the dark as to its setting.
From the psalm itself, however, the context is pretty dire.  David tells us that his friends “say to my soul”—that is, counsel him directly—to “flee like a bird to your mountain” – why? –‘for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart’.   THAT is a dire situation; the powerful have risen up with conspiratorial intent towards David and others who are ‘upright in heart.’ It is that context which leads to their helpless question, “if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
If I had to guess as to the historical situation, I would argue that the time following David’s secret anointing by Samuel AND the divine choice to remove the Spirit from King Saul (leading to his descent into paranoia and defeat) gives the most logical context.   Such a time would give the ‘upright’ the feeling that “the foundations are destroyed”—after all, IF Israel’s current-yet-rejected King is murderously intent to eliminate Israel’s divinely chosen future King, then the foundations are shaking indeed.
So what does this have to do with us?
Please do not misunderstand me; I do not equate our present circumstances to that of the young David. However, I do feel like our “foundations are being shaken”.  At the beginning of the summer I read a number of books lamenting the loss of the Christian foundations of our society (the best of which was Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option).  Furthermore, as I reflect on our current political situation, regardless of how you feel about the future direction of our President’s policies, it is safe to say that his ascendancy has heightened, rather than healed, the fissures already present within our society.  Our foundations are being shaken, for good or for ill.
So, in such a situation, “What can the righteous do?”
Well, look at what David did.
In the Lord I take refuge.
Those are not only the first words of the psalm, but the first act of his day!  In the dire situation he faced, where the “foundations were destroyed”, he daily (hourly?) placed himself confessionally and personally “in the Lord”.   It was from this consciously chosen place that he could say to his advisors, “How can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain…”
Then, having described in detail the reality that his counselors saw (the dire situation that David and they faced), David then describes –again in a confessional way—the larger and truer reality:
The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven, his eyes see, his eyelids test, the children of man.”
This undoubtedly is a confession of faith, but to David’s mind is surely a statement of reality!  THIS is the ‘Bigger Picture’ that contextualizes all other ‘smaller pictures’ of reality—including the one wherein “the foundations are destroyed!”   It is this ‘bigger’ reality that shapes his response to his present circumstances.
And what is that response?  To be sure, David calls down God’s judgment upon the wicked (“Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.”), but he does something more. Note how he ends the psalm:
“For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.”
He confesses ‘who’ the LORD is (‘righteous’), and ‘what’ the LORD loves (“righteous deeds’); thereby committing himself to the doing of such deeds, even in the face of dire circumstances!
And to what end?  The hope that “the upright shall behold his face.”
I found David’s psalm both challenging and encouraging.
I commend his response to all of us who face such times.

 

Week of August 27, 2017

This Week at Christ the Redeemer

Heading into the last week of August, here is what you need to know about the important dates and events around Christ the Redeemer:

Saturday, August 26 beginning at 9:30 a.m.  The Training for ALL Volunteers in our Children’s Ministry program (Sunday School teachers, Discipleship Hour helpers, Nursery workers) takes place this Saturday at 9:30 at the church. This is the first of two such trainings (the second is scheduled for September 9) and is MANDATORY for all volunteers.

Sunday, August 27, post-worship:  “Q & A re: Confirmation”.   We will be welcoming our Bishop, Steve Breedlove, on the weekend of October 6-8, culminating in a Service of Confirmation that Sunday. If you are considering participating in the service but have some questions concerning it, then plan now to come to the Q & A following worship.

Sunday, September 10 promises to be a special day:

9:00-10:00 am  Discipleship Hour returns! 

Plan now on adding this intentional component of study to your Fall discipline.  We will have two classes for adults and youth (combined), one for elementary aged children, and a Nursery for our youngest members.  See the bulletin insert in Sunday’s bulletin for more information on the upcoming classes.

Post-Worship  Congregational Meeting:

An Update from the Leadership Council.  Much has been happening within our community and several major decisions have been made by our leadership that will set the direction of our church for years to come.  We will gather in the sanctuary after worship to update the community. All are welcome.

 

Additionally, our two Women’s Study groups will begin meeting again as follows:

The Wednesday night group will begin September 13 at 7 pm at the home of Temple Richardson, 1510 South Eleanor Ct. Norfolk. We will be studying “Discerning the Voice of God” by Priscilla Shirer.  Call 489-7805 or email t.richardson@cox.net for information or to order a study guide.  All are welcome, no prior bible knowledge is necessary…we learn as we go! We would love to have some new and old friends join our group.  This study will last 7 weeks.
The Thursday morning group starts again September 14 at 9:15 a.m. in Christ the Redeemer’s fellowship hall.  This Fall we will be reading and discussing Joanna Weaver’s “Lazarus Awakening”.   http://lazarusawakening.com/book/
Joanna is the author of “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” and “Having a Mary Spirit”, both of which we’ve read in the past.  This will be a great study for all of us, but particularly if you are feeling STUCK and need to shed some grave-clothes and start living again.  For more information, please email Janis Campbell at janiscampbell58@gmail.com.  We have offered childcare in the past and are glad to do so again if anyone needs it.

 

Sunday, October 8, Bishop Steve Breedlove will conclude his annual visit to the church by celebrating and preaching at our Confirmation Service.  This is an important day in the life of our community, and we encourage all to make a special effort to be present in worship.

Much is happening within and through our community.   Pray for God’s blessing on all these endeavors.

Looking forward to worshipping with you all on Sunday.

 

Brian+

A Reflection for the Daily Office Lectionary

“I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,

for I do not forget your commandments.”

Psalm 119:176

I have always been fascinated by the Psalmist of the Long Psalm (119). Early in my Christian life I was appalled by his love for God’s law (caught up as I still was in the after effects of the devil’s lie that ‘my way’ was always the ‘best way’).  But today, I am enthralled by the love, and desire to emulate the Psalmist in the experience and expression of it.

So, what does the Psalmist know that we need to know?

First of all, that there is indeed an ‘order’ within creation itself, a way of life, that if embraced, leads to ‘life’—that is, more and abundant life! Just look at some of the statements from today’s lection that ends the psalm itself:

“The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” V.160

“I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.’ V. 162

‘Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.” V. 165

The deep conviction that there IS an order to creation, and that to embrace that order leads to life, lies at the heart of the psalmist self-awareness.

But note as well, that the Psalmist knows that the discovery of that order is itself a gracious gift from the Creator himself! Without this gracious self-disclosure, the order would be hidden from the psalmist.  Note again the Psalmist’s own words:

I rise before dawn and cry for help” Why? Because “I hope in your words” – I hope in your self-disclosure (v. 147).

“My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise’ – the ‘promise’ of ‘more, and abundant, life’ (v. 148).

All of this leads to his pleas to “give me life according to your promise’ (v. 154); “give me life according to your rules’ (v. 155); “give me life according to your steadfast love” (v. 160). The very character and ways of God are graciously revealed in the Word of God.

Knowing all of this, I still found myself struck by how the psalm ends:

“I have gone astray like a lost sheep!” (v. 176).

The Psalmist who has received the revelation of God – the revelation of God’s good order—and has embraced the ways of God –“for I do not forget your commandments’ (v. 176)—nonetheless, at the end of the psalm, still finds himself as a ‘lost sheep’, one who has wandered “astray”.

This is a sobering thought.

It is not enough, it seems, to possess the revelation, nor even to embrace the revelation! There are forces within our world and within ourselves that nevertheless cause us to ‘go astray’.

So what is the Psalmist’s solution?

“Seek your servant!”

He throws himself upon the shepherding heart of his Creator!  The heart of the One who not only created the order and has revealed it to us, but who alone can help us to live by it—even when we are led astray by the forces that confront us!

The Psalmist describes the Divine-human partnership that lies at the heart of the gospel; the key part being the ‘shepherding heart of God’.

May we daily commit ourselves to his ways, while crying out for his ‘seeking presence.”

Update for Week of August 13, 2017

Gearing Up for the Fall at Christ the Redeemer:
The Christian life is a multi-faceted one: it centers itself in WORSHIP, it focuses itself in ongoing DISCIPLESHIP, it exists and is nurtured in COMMUNITY, it seeks to make a difference in MINISTRY/SERVICE, all of which informs and shapes our personal and communal contribution to God’s MISSION/VOCATION within and for God’s good Creation, in accordance with God’s Story.
In the light of this, let us all COMMIT ourselves to WORSHIP (weekly and daily), to a life of DISCIPLESHIP (plan now on attending ‘Discipleship Hour’ this fall), to the nurturing of COMMUNITY (Join a Home group this fall, or seek to go ‘deeper’ within an existing one), to finding our place for MINISTRY/SERVICE within the Body (our ‘Discipleship Hour’ this fall will help you do this), all the while seeking to be faithful to God’s CALL/VOCATION/MISSION with the whole of our lives.
Remember, GROWTH/TRANSFORMATION does not happen apart from a COMMITMENT to a VISION and the enabling presence of God.  Let us embrace the VISION, make the COMMITMENT, and seek the enabling presence of God in the living of our lives this fall.
Here are some of the things you need to know as we head towards September:
First, “DISCIPLESHIP HOUR” returns on Sunday, September 10 from 9:00 am-10:00 am. The focus for the Fall will be on ‘Stewardship’ –both of our financial resources and of our gifts and talents. If the Story of Redemption results in the reclaiming and renewing of the STEWARD of GOD within the NEW CREATION of God, then gaining clarity on these things is vital for ourselves and for our vocation. More information on this will follow in the weeks to come.
Second, the Training for all volunteers in our Children’s and Family Ministry takes place either Saturday, August 26, or September 9 (both days begin at 9:30 am here at the church). Plan now on attending one of these sessions (and let Jennifer Brown know that you are coming!)
Third, Bishop Steve Breedlove will be with us (along with Sally) on the first weekend of October (the 6th through 8th).  Mark your calendars now, and do your best to be present for the worship on Sunday (it is always a gift to welcome our bishop and to connect with the wider church). Bishop Steve will be officiating a service of Confirmation that Sunday. If you are desiring to be confirmed, please speak to me as soon as possible. If you have some questions about Confirmation, I will be holding a brief Q & A after worship on Sunday, August 27th. All are invited.
I look forward to worshiping with you all on Sunday.
Brian+

A Reflection from the Daily Office August 16, 2017

 

The Rev. Dr. Brian G. Campbell

“Who rises up for me against the wicked?

Who stands up for me against evildoers?’

Psalm 94:16

The contrast could not be sharper:

At the end of June, Janis and I attended the Anglican Church in North America’s Assembly in Wheaton, Ill., where the reality and beauty of multi-ethnic communities of faith were celebrated and encouraged.  It was glorious, and a foretaste of the fullness of the Kingdom of God (see Revelation 7 among other texts).

Then, during the first week in August, nine of us from Christ the Redeemer spent time rejoicing with and learning from our brothers and sisters in Rwanda.  If you were present for worship last Sunday you caught a glimpse of the power of the gospel to bring cultures together within the fellowship of the Kingdom of God.

And then we returned to America and the horrors of Charlottesville!

The circumstances that defined the events of the past weekend were bad enough; however, the inept, confusing, and disturbing responses to the circumstances are frightening (while the violent behavior from both sides is to be condemned, there is no moral equivalency between the ideology of racism and supremacism and misguided modern liberalism; the latter is lamentable, the first is contemptible).

All of this led to the questions: What is happening within our country? And, how should the Church respond to it?

I am not competent to answer fully either question.  But what I found helpful was to consider these questions in light of the Psalm set for the Daily Office last evening-Psalm 94.

The Psalm is a lament penned by an unknown author concerning an unnamed, but disturbing, crisis.

The first seven verses are the lament itself. The psalmist addresses the prayer to the “God of vengeance”, because THIS was the God he desired to intervene (such was the horror of the crisis he faced!).  In his opinion, it was time for the “proud to be repaid” and the “exultation of the wicked” silenced. These boastful wicked people of power were “crushing God’s people…Killing the widow and the sojourner, murdering the fatherless”, all the while defying God (“The Lord does not see” they say, “the God of Jacob does not perceive.”).

He first brings his lament before his God, and then turns to address the wicked themselves (v. 8-11). He issues a word of warning, reminding them of who it is they are dealing with!  “He who planted the ear…who formed the eye…who disciplines the nations…who teaches humankind…The LORD knows…” and will act in his good time.

This confession-like-warning leads the psalmist to make a personal confession of the blessings that come from God’s presence (v. 12-15). “Blessed is the man whom you discipline” (obviously seeing himself among that throng), “whom you teach out of your law”. And what is the conviction that comes from this blessing? “For the LORD will not forsake his people, he will not abandon his heritage; for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.”

This personal remembrance of blessing, and this communal confession of faith, leads to a publicly voiced defiant question: “Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against the evildoers?”  The psalmist, by voicing his lament to the only One who can intervene, discovers himself in the very presence of God, and is renewed by the reality of his partnership with God (“When I thought, ‘My foot slips,’ your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”

All of this leads to the conviction that “the LORD has become my stronghold”. The Psalmist is ready to face his crisis from this solid ground, trusting that the LORD “will bring back on them their iniquity.”

So what might this psalm teach us about our current crisis?

The first and foremost task of the Church (and individually each of its members) is to PRAY! To bring the crisis, and our personal response to it, before God as honestly and as passionately as we are able.  This remains the genius of the Jews, and must become the habit of the Church! Let’s stop our ‘ranting and raving’ to others, and begin our ‘lamenting’ to God.

We need to pray BEFORE we speak to those in the crisis! And then, we are to simply remind them of the danger they are in, responsible as they are for their actions and convictions, before the One who made them and who will hold them to account.

And finally, we are to remain in prayer until we ourselves are changed simply by being in the presence of God, having renewed our partnership with him. Then, and only then, can we dare re-engage with the crisis from that “stronghold”, while trusting in and waiting for the fullness of the Kingdom.

In the midst of this crisis, may the Church be the community that brings it into the presence of God, seeking to be changed by that presence, so that we might be agents of change –in partnership with God—within our culture.

Update on Rwanda Trip, August 8, 2017

Dear Friends,
Here are a few highlights from our Rwanda Team thus far:
After spending time in Kigali with Bp. Louis and Winnie, the team headed off for Mybo on Saturday.  Once in Mybo, they had a tour of the new school building and spent time with the staff.  They also spent time with the Compassion project and their staff.  On Sunday, they were treated to a lively worship service (that lasted three hours!), with presentations from all of the choirs in the church.  Brian preached with a translator present and presided over the dedication of the new cornerstone for the new school building.  The team had lunch at Felicien’s house and met with Stephen Gahigi who had just presided over 55 baptisms at his own church!
The folks from the agricultural project, Echo, arrived Sunday night–an American who lived in Tanzania for 40 years and a Rwandan who is helping the church in Development.  Over 30 farmers showed up Monday morning at 8:00 a.m. to receive what was described as “transformative training”.  The two trainers are eager to help the Diocese formulate a realistic plan of development.  The team also visited a cell group from the Mybo parish and got to see the early church in action.
Please continue to hold them in your prayers.  They will continue their agricultural training today and return to Kigali Thursday to meet with our Compassion children and begin the long journey home – arriving at Dulles Friday afternoon.