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Peacemaker Ministries

From time to time I think it's good to highlight resources that I think do a great job with communicating peacemaking.

Peacemaker.net is a great resource. They have small group, church-wide, family, and general personal peacemaking information.

here is one example:

The Slippery Slope of Conflict

Staying on Top of Conflict

Harmful conflict is usually triggered by unmet desires. "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it" (James 4:1-2). Even good desires can evolve into controlling demands or idols that can lead us to judge others and then avoid or punish them until we get what we want (see Luke 10:38-42). This progression often starts with minor differences, but before we know it we're sliding down a slippery slope of conflict that can drop off in two directions.

Slippery Slope

Escape Responses

People tend to use escape responses when they are more interested in avoiding unpleasant people or situations than in resolving differences.

Denial—One way to escape from a conflict is to pretend that a problem does not exist. Another way is to refuse to do what should be done to resolve a conflict properly. These responses bring only temporary relief and usually make matters worse (see 1 Sam. 2:22-25).

Flight—Another way to escape from a conflict is to run away. This may take the form of pulling away from a relationship, quitting a job, filing for divorce, or changing churches. Flight may be legitimate in extreme circumstances (see 1 Sam. 19:9-10), but in most cases it only postpones a proper solution to a problem.

Suicide—When people lose all hope of resolving a conflict, they may seek to escape from the situation (or make a desperate cry for help) by attempting to take their own lives (see 1 Sam 31:4). Suicide is never a right way to deal with conflict.

Attack Responses

People tend to use attack responses when they are more interested in controlling others and getting their way than in preserving a relationship.

Assault—Some people try to overcome an opponent by using various forms of force or intimidation, such as verbal attacks (including gossip and slander), physical violence, or efforts to damage a person financially or professionally (see Acts 6:8-15). Such conduct always makes conflict worse.

Litigation—Although some conflicts may legitimately be taken before a civil judge (see Acts 24:1-26:32; Rom. 13:1-5), lawsuits usually damage relationships, diminish our Christian witness, and often fail to achieve complete justice. This is why Christians are commanded to make every effort to settle their differences within the church rather than the civil courts (see Matt. 5:25-26; 1 Cor. 6:1-8).

Murder—In extreme cases, people may be so desperate to win a dispute that they will try to kill those who oppose them (see Acts 7:54-58). While most people would not actually kill someone, we still stand guilty of murder in God's eyes when we harbor anger or contempt in our hearts toward others (see 1 John 3:15; Matt. 5:21-22).

The Gospel—The Key to Peace

The key to changing the way we deal with conflict is the gospel—the good news that God made peace with us and between us by sending his Son to die for our sins and give us new life through his resurrection (Col. 1:19-20; Eph. 2:14-16). When we believe in Jesus, we receive forgiveness and are united with Christ and one another (Acts 10:43; Phil. 2:1-2). God then begins to transform us into the likeness of his Son, enabling us to break free from sinful escaping and attacking habits and mature into peacemakers who reflect the glory of God's reconciling love in the midst of conflict (2 Cor. 3:17-18; Col. 3:12-15).

Peacemaking Responses

Peacemakers are people who breathe grace. Inspired by the gospel, they draw continually on the goodness and power of Jesus Christ, and then breathe out his love, mercy, forgiveness, and wisdom to dissipate anger, improve understanding, promote justice, and model repentance and reconciliation.
The six responses found on the top portion of the slippery slope may be divided into two categories: personal peacemaking responses and assisted peacemaking responses:

PERSONAL PEACEMAKING

There are three biblical ways to resolve conflicts personally and privately, just between you and the other party.

Overlook an Offense—Many disputes are so insignificant that they should be resolved by quietly overlooking an offense. "A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense" (Prov. 19:11). Overlooking an offense is a form of forgiveness, and involves a deliberate decision not to talk about it, dwell on it, or let it grow into pent-up bitterness or anger.

Reconciliation—If an offense is too serious to overlook or has damaged our relationship, we need to resolve personal or relational issues through confession, loving correction, and forgiveness. "[If] your brother has something against you ... go and be reconciled" (Matt. 5:23-24). "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently" (Gal. 6:1; see Matt. 18:15). "Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Col. 3:13).

Negotiation—Even if we successfully resolve relational issues, we may still need to work through material issues related to money, property, or other rights. This should be done through a cooperative bargaining process in which you and the other person seek to reach a settlement that satisfies the legitimate needs of each side. "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Phil. 2:4).

ASSISTED PEACEMAKING

When a dispute cannot be resolved personally, God calls us to seek assistance from other believers.

Mediation—If two people cannot reach an agreement in private, they should ask one or more objective outside people to meet with them to help them communicate more effectively and explore possible solutions. "If he will not listen [to you], take one or two others along" (Matt. 18:16). These mediators may ask questions and give advice, but the parties retain the responsibility of making the final decision on how to resolve their differences.
Arbitration—When you and an opponent cannot come to a voluntary agreement on a material issue, you may appoint one or more arbitrators to listen to your arguments and render a binding decision to settle the issue. "If you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church" (1 Cor. 6:4).

Accountability—If a person who professes to be a Christian wanders from the Lord by refusing to be reconciled and do what is right, Jesus commands church leaders to lovingly intervene to hold him or her accountable to Scripture and to promote repentance, justice, and forgiveness: "If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not ... go to look for the one that wandered off? ... If he refuses to listen ..., tell it to the church" (Matt. 18:12,17).

As you can see, the escape responses only postpone a proper solution to a problem, and attack responses usually damage relationships and make conflicts worse. Therefore, you should generally try first to deal with conflict personally and privately by using one of the first three conciliation responses (overlooking, discussion, or negotiation). To learn how to carry out these steps in a biblically faithful manner, see The Four G's.

If repeated efforts at personal peacemaking do not resolve a matter, then you may need to pursue one of the other conciliation responses (mediation, arbitration, or accountability), which will require the assistance of other people in your church or community. For more information on these assisted responses, see Resolving Conflict through Christian Conciliation.

- See more at: http://www.peacemaker.net/site/c.aqKFLTOBIpH/b.958151/k.5236/The_Slippery_Slope_of_Conflict.htm#sthash.vqrhXWXc.dpuf

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Canadianisms #3

eh

Words - it's all like the Northern Plains until you run across (guestimate) some 35-50ish words where spelling, some pronunciations, and simple use is very different.

Word of the week that boggled me: keeners. Was in an email someone sent me. I kinda got it from the context - but then looked it up to be sure. It's a variation on "keen" which is used rarely/occasionally in Northern Plains speak.

Google "officially" lists it as Canadian English or Canadian slang:

keen·er
ˈkēnər/
noun
plural noun: keeners

1. a person who keens for someone who has died.
2. Canadian informal
a person who is who is extremely eager, zealous, or enthusiastic.
"keeners who spent most of high school buried in homework"

It is also an adjective...

Don't even get me started about *smile*:
centre
colour
(I was asked by a new friend how do I spell "color/colour"? I answered: "the correct way" and left it at that. ;-)

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/11/canadian-english-differen_n_2853947.html

UPDATE - a friend had this on his FB wall:
canadianismsdoyouspeak

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Caliphate or Kingdom?

The Neo-Anabaptist movement needs to start a church-planting movement in the US and Canada. There are far too many planting christian-caliphate type churches. But I digress...

null

Kingdom or Caliphate - two very different approaches to living faith in the public square. Unfortunately many believers simply want a "Christian Caliphate" instead of becoming radical disciples of Jesus and His Kingdom - which is not defined by, nor defended by, borders, bombs, boundaries, bullets, or ballots.

The reality is our world is fighting and dying, the militant pop-atheists, the violent impulse of Islam or the deceived christian who has forgotten Jesus and the first centuries of the faith -those who believe the war is against "flesh and blood.":

Jesus comes into a violent world with a very different message and a very different kind of power. A power that multiplies and magnifies love. A love that liberates those oppressed in their mind or fallen culture.

November we've been exploring the two kingdoms - or to contextualize with the current violence - a "caliphate" or Kingdom (of God) choice.

Hope you will be challenged to embrace the third-way - the Jesus' way!

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Canadianisms #2 Circular or Linear?

As I am slowly adjusting to metric measurements in normal life I have also reflected several times on what are some ways to think about the differences.

Most simply, in my mind, its the difference between circular and linear.

Most imperial measurements are based on parts of a whole, e.g.: pie, circles, a group and fractions thereof. If you get circles - everything falls into place regarding much of imperial. It also allows for a different kind of precision (stuff that .33333, and .666666 just does not do). You will note that in measuring time is where we overlap circular measurement (parts of the whole of the year solar or lunar) and linear as the days and years pass.

Metric is all about linear thinking by 10s. It is more easily scaled because it flattens everything - except where it doesn't. Metric is a joyful discovery for a grade-school math student.

Now both systems have to compensate for their natural strengths and weaknesses when measuring different aspects of something. e.g. Metric shines in straightforward linear measurements. Imperial does well on the curve.

So this thanksgiving I will probably eat 1/6th of a pumpkin pie - just don't try to cut me 0.166666666666666666666666666666666666666666 of a piece.

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Love Craig Keener’s Stuff – Are Spiritual Gifts For Today?

Are spiritual gifts for today?
Bible Background by Craig Keener

http://www.craigkeener.com/are-spiritual-gifts-for-today/

Paul declares that we are the body of Christ with many members (Rom 12:4-5; 1 Cor 12:12, 20). He then elaborates on some of the varied gifts God has graciously given us to serve the rest of Christ’s body. Because Paul is simply offering samples, he provides several different lists that include a variety of ministries. These gifts for helping the other members in Christ’s body include such diverse ministries as giving, teaching, prophesying, speaking wisely, healings, worship leading, and evangelism (Rom 12:6-8; 1 Cor 12:8-10, 28-30; 14:26; Eph 4:11).

Paul nowhere distinguishes between what we might call supernatural and potentially natural gifts. That is, we need God’s grace to teach God’s word just as we need God’s grace to prophesy it. Like the churches that Paul first addressed, we remain the body of Christ in need of all our members and all our gifts; otherwise we will be like a body with important parts (such as hands or eyes) missing (1 Cor 12:14-30).

Nevertheless, some modern Western interpreters have traditionally affirmed so-called natural gifts while denying that supernatural gifts such as prophecy remain. Not only is there no support for this distinction in the biblical text, but Paul’s lists and teaching about gifts undercut it. Indeed, Paul emphasizes the need for various gifts, including prophecy, to bring Christ’s body to maturity and unity in trusting and knowing Christ (Eph 4:11-13)—a need that Christ’s body still has today. (I must pause to note here that Paul presumably uses the term “apostles” here, as he normally does elsewhere, to refer to a group of ministers larger than the Twelve original witnesses for Jesus. Virtually no one suggests that we still have original witnesses of Jesus among us; cf. Rom 16:7; 1 Cor 15:5-7; Gal 1:19; 1 Thess 2:6.)

One gift in nearly all of Paul’s lists, which Paul often ranks toward the top, is the gift of prophecy (Rom 12:6; 1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4:11). In the Old Testament, it was the most commonly mentioned ministry for communicating God’s message; it remains prominent in the New Testament as well. Paul not only emphasizes that this gift is particularly valuable for building up Christ’s body (1 Cor 14:3-4), he urges believers to seek it (14:1, 39; cf. 12:31). Thus, even if we did not know of true prophecies today, obeying biblical teaching would lead us to pray for God to give this gift to the body of Christ. Prophesying sometimes includes exposing the secrets of unbelievers’ hearts by God’s Spirit (14:24-25); at least in principle, the gift is widely available (14:5, 24, 31), though not all have it (12:29) and not all have it in the same degree (Rom 12:6).

Those who object to gifts such as prophecy continuing today often argue that allowing for contemporary prophecy would diminish the unique authority of Scripture. But this argument itself is an extrabiblical approach that differs from what we find in Scripture. Both in the Old and New Testaments, we read of many prophets whose prophecies were not recorded in Scripture (e.g., 1 Kgs 18:13; 1 Cor 14:29, 31). Scripture does not include all true prophecies; Scripture moreover includes history and other genres that are not prophecies.

I am not suggesting that God is revealing new doctrines—new doctrine is quite different from saying that God speaks to us at times to guide and nurture us. We already have in Christ’s first coming the fullest revelation of God that we will receive until his return (Heb 1:1-2), although the Spirit continues to teach us (John 14:26; 16:12-14; 1 John 2:27). One reason people object to gifts like prophecy continuing is that they fear that this opens the door for unbiblical doctrines. True prophecy need not do this. Yet the doctrine that the gifts have ceased is itself a postbiblical doctrine, without genuine biblical support.

Gifts like prophecy are pervasive in Scripture, and nowhere does Scripture suggest that they will become obsolete before the Lord’s return. Some cite 1 Cor 13:8-10 against continuing gifts, but the text in fact teaches the opposite. Paul provides three examples of gifts: prophecy, tongues, and knowledge. Given how “knowledge” is used elsewhere in 1 Corinthians (versus some modern ideas about what it means; cf. 1:5; 8:1; 14:6), “knowledge” here probably means knowledge about God of the limited sort presently available, often through teaching. Both this sort of knowledge and prophetic messages are limited, as opposed to the full knowledge we will have when we see the Lord face to face (13:11). This expression cannot simply refer to the close of the canon at the end of the first century. Knowledge has not passed away, nor have we yet seen Jesus face to face, without limitation.

Nor is Paul alone in expecting continuing gifts. When Jesus poured out his Spirit at Pentecost, Peter explained that this fulfilled Joel’s prophecy: God would pour out his Spirit in the last days, and this outpouring would be characterized by visions, dreams, and prophecy (Acts 2:17-18). God did not pour out his Spirit then pour his Spirit back. Moreover, if it was “the last days” when Peter spoke, it surely remains the last days. Not every individual in Acts exhibited the same gifts or ministries, but Acts does teach us about God’s work in the era between Jesus’s first and second comings.

Educated leaders such as Stephen, Paul and Apollos spread Jesus’s message by debating in public intellectual forums such as synagogues and courts. The most common means of drawing attention for the gospel in Acts, however, is signs, which God performed through both some of the educated and some who were not (e.g., Acts 2:43; 5:12; 6:8; 8:6; 19:11-12). After a dramatic healing in the temple, Jerusalem’s authorities tried to intimidate Peter and John against speaking in Jesus’s name. Instead, believers prayed that the Lord would continue to embolden them, granting further signs and wonders (4:29-30). God gave signs to attest the message about his grace (14:3), which we still preach.

When preaching about God’s reign (his “kingdom”), Jesus also demonstrated God’s reign by authoritatively healing the sick and delivering those oppressed by spirits (e.g., Matt 4:23-24; 9:35; 12:28; Luke 9:11; 11:20). Jesus commissioned disciples to do the same (Matt 10:7-8; Luke 9:2; 10:9); the principles of this mission continue until the end (Matt 10:23). God used dramatic signs especially to draw outsiders’ attention to the gospel (cf. Rom 15:19), but gifts of healings are also provided to help believers (1 Cor 12:9; James 5:14-16). Such healings need not be dramatic to fulfill their purpose; healing through medical means, for example, is no less an answer to prayer. But again there is no indication that healings would stop; they continue, including as a witness to outsiders, as late as the end of Acts (Acts 28:8-9) and other signs appear in Revelation (Rev 11:5-6, interpreted in various ways but rarely applied exclusively to the past).

Why would God work one way throughout Scripture in various times and places and then suddenly stop, without prior warning, at the end of the first century? Is it not more biblical to expect that God continues to work as he did in the Bible, in various times and places as he deems best and his people welcome his work?

In fact, God has continued to work with miracles, prophecies, tongues and other gifts throughout history. (Even most Christians who deny that the gifts are for today do affirm that miracles continue at least sometimes. God is sovereign and certainly able to perform miracles and answer prayers.) Irenaeus in the second century testified to virtually the same range of miracles we read in Acts. Historians have documented that the leading causes of conversion to Christianity in the 300s were healings and exorcisms. Augustine originally believed that miracles had largely died out by his day but ultimately confirmed that many were occurring even in his own circle of churches and among friends. Miracles accompanied many new mission fields as well as some revivals. Wesley and early Methodists reported some. Nineteenth-century Lutheran pastor Johann Christoph Blumhardt reported many. Today some suggest that up to 80 percent of the church’s global growth is connected with signs and wonders.

Of course, discernment is crucial, because not every claimed prophecy or miracle is genuinely from God’s Spirit (cf. 1 John 4:1-6). Even though some are too critical, they rightly remind us that we must not only welcome but also evaluate what claims to be the work of the Spirit (1 Cor 14:29). We should not despise prophecies but we should evaluate them and embrace only what is true (1 Thess 5:19-22). (I pause to mention here that two or three Christian Union staff prophesied to me and they were accurate.) Unfortunately, some who affirm gifts denigrate the intellect; some circulate unsound teachings such as self-centered prosperity; and so on. Then again, unsound teachings also circulate in circles that deny the gifts. We should neither throw out the baby out with the bath water nor let it drown there.

Paul urges us to seek spiritual gifts, especially those that serve the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:31; 14:1, 12, 26, 39).

For other posts about spiritual gifts continuing, see http://wp.me/p1MUNd-e1; http://wp.me/p1MUNd-1p; also reviews at http://pneumareview.com/john-macarthurs-strange-fire-reviewed-by-craig-s-keener/; http://pneumareview.com/rtkendall-holy-fire-ckeener/

For other posts about spiritual gifts in general, see http://wp.me/p1MUNd-4Q (The purpose of spiritual gifts)

For other posts about the Spirit and life in the Spirit, see http://wp.me/p1MUNd-eN (The fruit of the Spirit — Galatians 5:22-23); http://wp.me/p1MUNd-3N (How can we hear the Holy Spirit accurately?); http://wp.me/p1MUNd-fD (In God’s presence—John 14—16); http://wp.me/p1MUNd-fq (As the Father sent me, I send you—John 20:21); http://wp.me/p1MUNd-fO (“The down payment”); and other posts in the file marked “Holy Spirit”
For Craig’s video lectures about the Spirit, see (for short ones): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2U2sk-POYC4 (Pentecost); http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdcwx18dIWw (Water Imagery in the Gospel of John)
For a longer one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9FzsR6rY6w (Luke’s Theology of Mission in Acts)

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Canadianisms Part 1

Having moved to another country there are things you notice. You know it's like Texas: "It's like a whole other country!"- kindaof - politically yes, culturally there are MANY intersections with congruence or discontinuity directly related to the U.S.

I will attempt to share some of my Canadian learnings (congruent or not) on the blog from time to time - in no particular order.

One easy congruence to name up front: (1) border agents and drivers license station agents (as was pithily relayed to me) are trained in the same universal school of manners and voice ;-)

(2)Americans are more brash (e.g. very direct and open - immediate transparency is generally in high regard and puts one in a positive position) and we tend to risk more emotive/over communication to connect up-front than seems the norm for Canadians. They are (generalizing here of course!) more reserved in just about every way (although French Canada may be an exception based on what is said about the Quebecois - that in itself is another post. Apparently they are fair game for the rest of Canada based on their historic demands to celebrated above the rest). I say all this as a "people-oriented introvert" myself.

(3) Life is slower. This one has REALLY surprised me. Coming most recently from a small city that is growing rapidly makes me think perhaps its city-life-cycle thing. I think places like SuFu have a bit (at least in leadership types) of "if it's going to happen here, it's going to be me personally engaging" mentality. Yes, of course in a new position there is a lot of information overload. Again, I am speaking more generally here about the pace of life in Toronto. Some of this is good allowing for more pause and reflection (as noted above in the first generalization). No one is really in a hurry - and this is in a place with around 6.5 million people.

(4) Canadians are more "patriotic" than one would think. You would not frame the question if asking a Canadian "what do you think of patriotism?" - since that very word Americanizes the question and therefore sets up a bit of defense. Rather, upon observing what is done, said by negation and reactions provides one with the picture more than any straight-forward ask would. The flag and maple leaf are everywhere. I am speaking about this beyond the expected displays of solidarity after tragedy and Remembrance Day.

(5) Pay phones...there are almost none in where I came from..they are still fairly ubiquitous here. We had to explain the concept of a payphone to our kids. Not sure if O. even saw one before here.

Which brings us back to the first and major observation. So this post might be brash by Canadian standards. By US Northern Plains standards I'm being overly guarded or downright "blowing pleasant smoke." Ha.

All of these observations can bring wonderful in-group strengths and unique patterns of communicating. Being brought in from the outside also means I learn this through observation, trial and error and graceful people who help when it is by error.

The people I've met have been wonderful, kind and welcoming. Without trying to "tie-a-bow" on this post, I'll leave it at: to be continued...

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Annual Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church Nov. 9th

International Day of Prayer

Nov. 9th is the annual day of prayer for the persecuted church. While we have the freedom to gather in public or in buildings in the West much of the world's christians are still persecuted in ways we cannot easily understand.

If you are not aware of these great resources, please check them out:
VOM Canada

https://www.persecution.net Voice of the Martyrs

http://www.persecution.org/ International Christian Concern

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The Church Year

J was not raised to observe the church year. Some years ago however I personally started to follow it and also in our last church introduced it - not for a religious reason - but that it tells the story of Jesus and helps us have more "push-back" in a world driven by it's own stories - let alone help us practice sabbath.

As someone who has dealt with anxiety having more tools for formation is important.

So here's a nice little summary from internet monk:

Preparing for the New Church Year (1)http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/52199


The Advent and Triumph of Christ, Memling

Note from CM: In 2010, we did a series on “Church Year Spirituality.” November is the month when we complete the annual liturgical cycle and prepare for a new Church Year, which begins the first Sunday in Advent (Nov. 30 this year). For the next four Sundays, I will run these posts again to help those of us who follow the cycle prepare for marking sacred time in the year to come. For those who are unfamiliar with this practice, or who wish to learn more about it, I hope these posts will be informative and encouraging.

• • •

Christians who follow the liturgical calendar will begin a new year of living in the Gospel with the commencement of Advent on Nov. 30.

The diagram on the right gives an overview of the annual Church calendar.

Advent is the season when we prepare for Christ’s coming. (4 weeks)
Christmastide is the season when we celebrate Christ’s incarnation. (12 days)
In Epiphany, we remember how Christ made God’s glory known to the world. (up to 9 weeks)
The Lenten season leads us to the Cross, the climactic event in Holy Week, which concludes Lent. (40 days plus Sundays)
Eastertide (the Great 50 Days) celebrates Christ’s resurrection, new life, and his ascension to glory. It concludes on the 50th day, Pentecost, the day of the Spirit’s outpouring.
The Season after Pentecost (or Trinity, or Ordinary Time) is the time of the church, when by the Spirit we live out the life of the Gospel in community and in the world. (up to 29 weeks)

I don’t know why so many Christian groups think they need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to “discipleship programs.” This time-tested annual pattern for the life of individual believers and the Church together that is focused on Christ, organized around the Gospel, and grounded in God’s grace, is sheer genius. It is simple enough for a child. It offers enough opportunities for creativity and flexibility that it need never grow old. Each year offers a wonderful template for learning to walk with Christ more deeply in the Gospel which brings us faith, hope, and love.

My favorite book on church year spirituality is Robert Webber’s Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year. Here is his summary of the subject:

Ancient-Future Time presents the historical understanding of the Christian year as life lived in the pattern of death and resurrection with Christ. This spiritual tradition was developed in the early church and has been passed down in history through the worship of the church. It enjoys biblical sanction, historical staying power, and contemporary relevance. Through Christian-year spirituality we are enabled to experience the biblical mandate of conforming to Christ. The Christian year orders our formation with Christ incarnate in his ministry, death, burial, resurrection, and coming again through Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost. In Christian-year spirituality we are spiritually formed by recalling and entering into his great saving events. (p. 21f)

In today’s post I will merely list five primary reasons why I think it advantageous for Christians to form their spiritual lives — their walk with God through Christ — around the liturgical year. Then, throughout the month on subsequent Sundays, we will take these points and expand upon them. We will continue exploring and discussing this over the next two weeks as we prepare for our new Church Year to begin on Nov. 30.

Five Reasons to Practice Church Year Spirituality

2011_0911001It enables us to live in God’s Story. Church Year spirituality forms Christian people around the story of redemption in Christ. It does not focus on “principles” or “steps” or “programs” for spiritual growth. It is thoroughly Jesus-shaped and uses the biblical story to conform our lives to his. As Israel was shaped by their story of slavery, redemption, covenant, and Promised Land, so the New Israel is formed by the story of Messiah.

It keeps the main thing the main thing. Church Year spirituality is Christ-centered. It is shaped around the events of his incarnation, ministry, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and the outpouring of his Spirit. At every turn we see Jesus, we hear Jesus, we follow Jesus.

It recognizes that one’s calendar forms one’s life. Church Year Spirituality is down-to-earth, utterly realistic about the day to day, season to season patterns of life that shape our behavior. All our lives we have developed habits by the way we mark and use our time. A spirituality formed around the Church Year is designed to form our habits around following Jesus. We take the place of disciples, and walk through the same experiences they had as they lived with Jesus day in and day out, season after season, over the course of three years.

It links personal spirituality with worship, family, and community. Church Year Spirituality recognizes both the individual journey and the corporate pilgrimage. What happens on Sundays is of a piece with what happens during the week as our corporate worship and our daily lives as individuals and families are shaped around the story of Jesus.

It provides a basis of unity and common experience for Christians everywhere. Our unity with other Christians is in the Gospel story. This is summarized in the Apostles’ Creed and the other creeds of the church. Propositional doctrinal statements have their place as ways to express more detailed understandings of the meaning and significance of God’s saving acts, but our unity with other believers is in Christ. We celebrate this throughout the year when churches of various traditions and denominations celebrate the Church Year and conform their worship and congregational lives to it.

This is by way of introduction. On the Sundays to come, we will examine these points and other matters related to marking the Christian Year.

When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” (John 1:38-39)

It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. (Col 1:28)

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Talks

Hey several people asked where they can get my teaching from Mercy days or anything new I do. I will post links on the blog here when I check out what works best for me for uploading. Thanks! Shel

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