Category Archives: Bible

Spiritual Formation Classes Begin September 7th

 

 

 

 

We have two Spiritual Formation classes beginning this Fall on Sunday, September 7th. Classes will be held on Sunday mornings from 10:15-11 a.m. at Five Oaks SDA Church. Please see the information below and plan to participate!

1 peter bible study fall 2014

 

 

 

 

 

ASC WELCOMING THE STRANGER PROMO 2014

 

 

 

If you have questions please contact the church office.

Spiritual Formation classes will also be held for children preschool through 5th grade.

Nursery will be provided during this time as well. 

 

 

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New Service Times and Spiritual Formation Classes

We will be worshipping together on Sunday mornings in one service at 10am for the next two weeks (August 24 and 31). On Sunday, September 7th we will begin offering two services of Holy Eucharist on Sunday mornings: 9:00 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. Spiritual Formation classes will begin on September 7th as well. These classes will meet between the services from 10:15-11:00 a.m. Spiritual Formation classes for children will be offered at this time as well and nursery is provided.

This Fall we are pleased to offer two course for adults: A Bible Study on 1 Peter, and a class on God’s heart for immigrants in our midst. Please plan on participating in one of these offerings. Look below for more details.

1 peter bible study fall 2014


ASC WELCOMING THE STRANGER PROMO 2014

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All Saints Church Reads: Book 1

Our first book is Worship, Community & the Triune God of Grace by James B. Torrance. We will be discussing the first two chapters together this Thursday at 7am in the Upper Room or at 7pm at my house (1 Hampshire Court, Durham.) It is a richly theological book that draws my heart to worship as I read. I pray that it deepens our understanding of God as a triune being and our astonishment and experience of the gospel of grace! It is a book about how our Triune God is at work drawing us into himself. “The Father has given to us the Son and the Spirit to draw us into a life of shared communion—of participating through the Spirit in the Son’s communion with the Father—that we might be drawn in love into the very Trinitarian life of God himself.” It is a deeply worshipful and pastoral book and one that has many echoes of Bishop Steve Breedlove’s sermon on Trinity Sunday just a few weeks ago. Join us tomorrow or at our next book club meeting on July 24th when we discuss the second half of the book.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen

Thomas Kortus

 trinity knot
Here is a short blogpost about the author and the book:

When the Rev Professor James B. Torrance died at the age of 80 in 2003, Christianity Today magazine chose to highlight three areas of his life of service – 1) he was Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology at University of Aberdeen in Scotland, 2) he was known as a mentor to other Christian leaders, and 3) he wrote “Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace” (IVP, 1997).

He had also been a family man and a pastor, and whether serving in pastoral ministry, teaching theology, writing, or in mentoring others, Torrance was keen on worship and on discussing in simple but profound language the relationship of grace and the continuing priesthood of Jesus in Trinitarian worship.

It is interesting to note that “Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace” [WCTGG] contains a mere 130 pages, and yet it has gained wide influence in denominations around the globe, as in it Torrance offers a brief but profound discussion of prayer and worship that is Christ-centered, incarnational and Trinitarian. The book is an expanded form of lectures on the theology of worship he gave in Manchester in 1994, and is also from articles he wrote or lectures he gave in different countries in the 70’s and 80’s. It has been pointed out that these themes have struck more of a chord in the last decade or so than they did in some theological circles in the earlier years. With this easy-to-read book Torrance is still helping “mentor” those of us serving in ministries today. Here are some excepts from WCTGG:

There is no more urgent need in our churches today than to recover the Trinitarian nature of grace—that it is by grace alone, through the gift of Jesus Christ in the Spirit that we can enter into and live a life of communion with God our Father.

Worship is the gift of participating through the Spirit in the incarnate Son’s communion with the Father.

The Father has given to us the Son and the Spirit to draw us into a life of shared communion—of participating through the Spirit in the Son’s communion with the Father—that we might be drawn in love into the very Trinitarian life of God himself.

Whatever else our faith is, it is a response to a response already made for us and continually being made for us in Christ, the pioneer of our faith.

In worship we offer ourselves to the Father ‘in the name of Christ’ because he has already in our name made the one true offering to the Father, the offering by which he has sanctified for all time those who come to God by him (Heb 10:10, 14) and because he ever lives to intercede for us in our name.

(Trinitarian worship) means participating in union with Christ, in what he has done for us once and for all, in his self-offering to the Father, in his life and death on the cross. It also means participating in what he is continuing to do for us in the presence of the Father and in his mission from the Father to the world. When we see that ….. (and) that the unique center of the Bible is Jesus Christ, ‘the apostle and high priest whom we confess [Heb 3:1], then the doctrines of the Trinity, the incarnation, the atonement, the ministry of the Spirit, Church and sacraments, our understanding of the kingdom….all unfold from that center.

We are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit into the community, the one body of Christ, which confesses faith the in the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and which worships the Father through the Son in the Spirit. We are baptized into a life of communion. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is the grammar of this participatory understanding of worship and prayer.

(We need to) return to the ‘forgotten Trinity’ – to an understanding of the Holy Spirit, who delivers us from a narcissistic preoccupation with the self to find our true being in loving communion with God and one another—to hear God’s call to us, in our day, to participate through the Spirit in Christ’s communion with the Father and his mission from the Father to the world—to create in our day a new humanity of persons who find true fulfillment in other-centered communion and service in the kingdom of God.

The first real step on the road to prayer is to recognize that none of us knows how to pray as we ought to. But as we bring our desires to God, we find that we have someone who is praying for us, with us, and in us. Thereby he teaches us to pray and motivate us to pray and to pray in peace to the Lord. Jesus takes our prayers—our feeble, selfish, inarticulate prayers—he cleanses them, makes them his prayers, and in a ‘wonderful exchange’ he makes his prayers our prayers and presents us to the Father as his dear children, crying ‘Abba Father’.

This blog post appeares on Trinitarian Worship: http://trinitarianworship.blogspot.com/2009/10/worship-community-triune-god-of-grace.html

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Admitting we don’t know

by Kara Martin   May 10th, 2012

The God I Don’t Understand, Christopher JH Wright.

Christopher Wright is a great Old Testament scholar. His work on Old Testament ethics for the people of God has been foundational in my understanding of the character of God through the laws he laid down.

So to have him admit that there are difficult parts of Scripture, for which pat answers will not suffice, is… spirit warming. Some evangelical writers are so adamant in their writing that they leave no room for doubt, no room for mystery, no room for limits in human understanding!

The sub-title for this book is: Reflections on tough questions of faith. Wright looks at four areas of great contention, not just for atheists, but also within Christianity:

  • What about evil and suffering?
  • What about the Canaanites?
  • What about the Cross?
  • What about the end of the world?

He begins by pointing out that even if we struggle to understand parts of Scripture, this does not stop us from knowing and trusting God. In fact, it would be more surprising if everything were plain for us, for God himself declares in Isaiah 55:9: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

With honesty and humility he admits there are things he doesn’t understand, but also opens up different forms of not understanding:

  • Some things just don’t make sense, cannot be explained theologically or philosophically, and we can only respond with anger or grief, such as when confronted by the wrenching reality of suffering and pain.
  • Some things are morally disturbing, including some of the violent acts described in the Old Testament.
  • Some things are hard to understand but not in a bad way, for example, exactly how has the Cross dealt with our deepest needs? The response might be gratitude and hope, but it is difficult to explain.
  • Some things are simply puzzling or confusing, such as the narratives of the end of the world.

Wright points out that many in the Bible also wrestled with God: Abraham questioned God about Sodom and Gomorrah, Sarah mocked God’s ability to reverse her barrenness, Moses questioned God several times, Elijah could not understand why God would save life only to destroy it (1 Kings 17:20-21), Job’s whole book is a question of God, Jeremiah could not understand the words he was being asked to speak, while the Psalms are full of anguished questions.

The key for Wright is to ask questions, while acknowledging God’s good character, and continuing to worship in faith (following the pattern of Psalm 73).

While space will not allow me to deal with each of the issues in detail, here are some pointers from Wright on each concern:

  • The problem of evil. We need to keep three truths in tension: the utter evilness of evil, the utter goodness of God and the utter sovereignty of God; and note that all three meet at the Cross of Christ. Jesus defeated evil at the Cross, and in the new creation there will be no more death, pain, sin, impurity, darkness, international strife or curse. In the meantime, in the face of suffering, the Bible gives us models and words for grieving, weeping, lamenting, protesting, and screaming in pain and anger and frustration.
  • The problem of violence in the Old Testament. Wright makes a series of comments: it was set in violent times, the conquest of Canaan was a unique and limited event, God is sovereign and just and the Canaanite culture and religion was wicked, the same justice was applied to Israel, and ultimately God has a vision of peace for all nations.
  • The Cross = why, what and how? Wright speaks about balancing God’s anger and God’s love, and understanding the different dimensions of what was achieved by the Cross: coming home, receiving mercy, being redeemed, receiving forgiveness, reconciliation with God and one another, being justified, being cleansed, and opportunity for new life.
  • The last things. Wright opens up the ‘cranks and controversies’ around seven areas: death, the intermediate state, the return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the day of judgment, heaven, and hell. He goes through the biblical material, and concludes on the high note of the hope we have in Jesus.

In his conclusion to the book, Wright speaks about two consequences of his musings in these areas:

  1. All of our behaviour now must be governed by the standards of the new creation. We must act against evil and violence, to bring peace and ease suffering.
  2. All that we do and work at now contributes to the content of new creation. All we have accomplished will be purged and redeemed, but not obliterated and forgotten. What we do every day matters, because of the Cross, and the promise of the new heaven and earth.

This book review can be found here

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Join the Lenten Discipleship Group, Monday nights, 7-9 pm

What is Lectio Divina?

 

Good question.  Here is how a medieval monk named Guigo describes this

four-fold way of praying the Scriptures:

 

“Reading seeks for the sweetness of a blessed life, meditation perceives it,

prayer asks for it, contemplation tastes it. Reading, as it were, puts food

whole into the mouth, meditation chews it and breaks it up, prayer extracts

its flavor, contemplation is the sweetness itself which gladdens and

refreshes. Reading works on the outside, meditation on the pith: prayer asks

for what we long for, contemplation gives us delight in the sweetness which

we have found.”

 

Interested?  Join the Lenten Discipleship Group, Monday nights, 7-9 PM,

February 20-March 2.  For more information or to register, please contact

Paul Marvin (477-6974, pmarvin@nc.rr.com).

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The Daily Office Lectionary :: Receive daily emails with the readings! It is that easy!

This past Sunday Steve challenged us to commit to listening to words of Jesus – words that are not just powerful – but create and change and affect reality! When God said Let there be light – it happened! 

He challenged the church to follow the daily office lectionary. This way of daily Bible reading is found in the back of the Book of Common Prayer. It is a great tool given to us from the wisdom of the church and consists of an Old Testament reading, Psalm(s), New Testament reading, and a Gospel reading. The readings follow the church calendar and emphasize the themes of the liturgical seasons and thus invite us deeper into the scripture and into the life of Jesus.

If you turn to page 935 of your Book of Common Prayer you can find the daily office lectionary, but the table can be confusing to figure out what to read.

To make things really easy a couple in our church has a ministry in which they email the daily office lectionary to you each day! Mark and LIz Harbaugh have over a thousand subscribers and are passionate about providing the daily office lectionary scriptures in a way that is easy and formative. Every night at 1 am you will receive an email with the scriptures for the day after you subscribe – it is the simple! 

Click HERE to subscribe! 

 

Concerning the Daily Office Lectionary – taken from the Book of Common Prayer page 934 

The Daily Office Lectionary is arranged in a two-year cycle. Year One begins on the First Sunday of Advent preceding odd-numbered years, and Year Two begins on the First Sunday of Advent preceding even-numbered years. (Thus, on the First Sunday of Advent, 1976, the Lectionary for Year One is begun.)

Three Readings are provided for each Sunday and weekday in each of the two years. Two of the Readings may be used in the morning and one in the evening; or, if the Office is read only once in the day, all three Readings may be used. When the Office is read twice in the day, it is suggested that the Gospel Reading be used in the evening in Year One, and in the morning in Year Two. If two Readings are desired at both Offices, the Old Testament Reading for the alternate year is used as the First Reading at Evening Prayer.

When more than one Reading is used at an Office, the first is always from the Old Testament (or the Apocrypha).

When a Major Feast interrupts the sequence of Readings, they may be re-ordered by lengthening, combining, or omitting some of them, to secure continuity or avoid repitition.

Any Reading may be lengthened at discretion. Suggested lengthenings are shown in parentheses.

In this Lectionary (except in the weeks from 4 Advent to 1 Epiphany, and Palm Sunday to 2 Easter) , the Psalms are arranged in a seven-week pattern which recurs throughout the year, except for appropriate variations in Lent and Easter Season.

In the citation of the Psalms, those for the morning are given first, and then those for the evening. At the discretion of the officiant, however, any of the Psalms appointed for a given day may be used in the morning or in the evening. Likewise, Psalms appointed for any day may be used on any other day in the same week, except on major Holy Days.

Brackets and parentheses are used (brackets in the case of whole Psalms, parentheses in the case of verses) to indicate Psalms and verses of Psalms which may be omitted. In some instances, the entire portion of the Psalter assigned to a given Office has been bracketed, and alternative Psalmody provided. Those who desire to recite the Psalter in its entirety should, in each instance, use the bracketed Psalms rather than the alternatives.

Antiphons drawn from the Psalms themselves, or from the opening sentences given in the Offices, or from other passages of Scripture, may be used with the Psalms and biblical Canticles. The antiphons may be sung or said at the beginning and end of each Psalm or Canticle, or may be used as refrains after each verse or group of verses.

On Special Occasions, the officiant may select suitable Psalms and Readings.

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Nancy Shares her Story

Five years ago God led my husband Bob and me to All Saints Church on September 17, 2006, the “birthday” of this church.  We were just visiting, checking it out, and neither of us had any idea that this would end up being our church home.  Why would we?  We live in Holly Springs, about 45 minutes away.  We had just looked up nearby Anglican Mission churches, and since Bob was in town, we decided to drive out and see what was going on.  But God had different ideas than just a visit.  It was not in any way immediate, but we have definitely ended up staying and finding a spiritual home, a place of growth and sound teaching that is very important to us both.

Over the last eight years God has led me on a journey I never expected.  He has taken me out of my comfort zone, stretched me, molded me, stripped me, and remade me.  I have been to more places spiritually and emotionally than I thought I would ever be.  I have been led out a church that I loved and a denomination and tradition I have known since childhood.  Through this I lost friends and relationships that I thought would be life long.  I had lived a life of service and commitment to my church, and now no longer had a church to serve.  I no longer had a church to attend.  But, I still had a God and he was at work, stripping away and stripping down.  God stripped away the idols of worship that I did not even realize that I had, or that had me.  I was left with no trappings, no tradition, no communion, no involvement in church community, no excess service of the church.  I was stripped down until there was nothing but him.  God, and God alone to serve, follow and worship, in spirit and in truth.

It was during this time that he brought us to All Saints Church.  Though it is clear to me and my husband that this is where God has called us for this time, it has not been easy.  We live 45 minutes away.  My husband has a job that requires extensive travel, so he is gone about 95% of the time.  Involvement for me is easier than for him, but still not easy.  It requires a sacrifice.  Just coming on Sunday requires sacrifice.  But God is so good and has provided richly.

So, out of obedience I came, Sunday after Sunday, many times alone, many times with the dear friends the Lord has given, but not very often with my husband.  Out of obedience I began to get involved.  I joined the Prayer Ministry and my involvement with that has grown.  I have attended Women’s Retreats and really enjoy the opportunity to get to know the wonderful women of this church.  All of this has been a big stretch for me, as I am such an introvert.  But I learned something about myself and my spiritual journey a few years ago.  My spiritual life has been one of relinquishment, of giving up to God.  Giving up control, giving up dreams, giving up my will and letting God take over.  I also learned that Jesus will step into broken places and into broken dreams and bring healing and strength and beauty.  And that is what he has done with me.  The Spirit has opened me and stretched me, and he continues to do so.  He has renewed me and filled me and taught me.  He has moved me into Prayer Ministry here, a ministry I love.  And the Spirit had prepared me for, and moved me into, a leadership role in that ministry, something that I would have never foreseen.

So, here I am.  My involvement here at All Saints looks different than at any other church and time and place in my life, but I am confident that God knows what he is doing.  I really feel that he is using the season to prepare me for the next steps on this great journey with him.  He knows what that will look like, I don’t.  I don’t need to.  All I have to do is be obedient and follow him.  He will show me the way.

Oh, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!  Romans 11:33

Nancy

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To love, To hope – a post by Rev. Brad Acton

To Love, To Hope

Last night a group of high school students from my church discussed Paul’s disposition towards death in his letter to the Philippians, particularly in verses 19-30 of the first chapter. This theme of the Christian response to death, or rather how we choose to live in light of its imminence, keeps coming up. Paul, of course, is writing to a church for whom suffering is a present reality. They are oppressed precisely because of their faith, which is an alien experience for most American Christians today. So how then can his attitude be relevant for our churches?
One thing the students noticed is that Paul’s attitude is utter foolishness according to the wisdom of our day. Our culture views death as a vague and often distant threat. When it is not being ignored it is being aggrandized to the point of making it unbelievable (think of over-the-top action movies, ridiculously gory blockbusters, or video games that make war entertaining). In this culture, what matters is the now. We are free to further our health, wealth, and felicity given death’s non-existence within our worldview. Statements such as, “Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death” are incompatible with our account of the good. We tolerate Christ’s commands over our life, but only inasmuch as they cost us as little as possible. This is precisely why, however, when death reenters our narrative through some form of tragedy we find ourselves inadequately prepared to address its ultimate power over us. How can a culture gripped by materialistic impulses to nurture self-worth and self-aggrandizement face a reality that flippantly destroys our highest goods? In short, we cannot.
So what then? How should the church live? One of the students answered this way: “This life doesn’t matter.” I think that may be going too far in the other direction, but I think it’s the natural move. When death comes into the picture, what does matter? Does your job, or your education, or your friends, or your love for anyone really matter? Death doesn’t seem to think so. It ravages at will. Sometimes I think the Christian ethic calls us to live in the (sometimes) horrible tension between illusion and despair. Either death is distant so we live engrossed in the present, or death’s shadow makes all the world grow dark and all beauty loses its luster. But maybe there is a way to love more then we’ve ever loved, more deeply than we thought possible, even in the knowledge that death hangs over the best of who we are.
God knows this will cost us in this life. Every time I hear the lyrics to the Mumford and Sons, “After the Storm” this truth hammers home:
And I took you by the hand
And we stood tall,
And remembered our own land,
What we lived for.And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.

But this hope comes by facing the truth that follows:
I will die alone and be left there.
Well I guess I’ll just go home,
Oh God knows where.
Because death is just so full and mine so small.
Well I’m scared of what’s behind and what’s before.
The song closes with the following lines again:
And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
I hear this type of awareness in Paul. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” And by this Paul means to gain Christ. N.T. Wright notes in his brief commentary of Philippians that ‘heaven’ is not the same term for Paul as it is for us. Paul never waxes eloquent on the golden roads or ‘mansions,’ but he does talk about finding Christ and being found in Christ. For Paul that holds all hope, and for the Church it is our only hope. A Christian ethic then must be enraptured with love, but this love is not threatened or overshadowed by death. It is only made more potent by death, and in dying we find only ‘gain,’ not loss. In Christ we find Christ’s Church, his bride, and in her we find one another. To see my Lord would be to see those whom I love, and those whom I have lost. May we hope to all see that glory, serving one another in love while despising the fading power of death.
Read more posts from Rev. Brad Acton by visiting his blog: http://www.bradfordacton.blogspot.com

Brad and Emily Acton. Brad is a deacon and serves as the youth pastor @ All Saints. He and his wife are expecting their first child in Early March.

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Second Sunday After Pentecost

Collect for the Day
Remember, O Lord, what you have wrought in us and not what we deserve; and, as you have called us to your service, make us worthy of our calling; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Exodus 32:1-14
2 Corinthians 12:2-9
John 2:1-12

Message: “Allowed to Make a Difference” by Rev. Steve Breedlove
(Check back soon for sermon audio!)

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Backpacking and Discipleship

Trip Highlights

The first weekend in June, twelve men (an appropriately symbolic number!) participated in All Saints Church’s fourth annual Men’s Backpacking Trip. We navigated our way through just over 21 miles of Pisgah National Forest over three days, and David Hyman led us through a series of reflections on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. In many ways, the dynamic nature of the trip with its grueling climbs, periods of disorientation (including times of separation within the group due to outdated maps), ten bone-chilling river crossings, times of singing and laughter, and even the occasional time of rest is paradigmatic of the dynamic nature of what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Many of us at All Saints Church are thinking and praying deeply about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and how our church community can be more faithful in fulfilling our call to be and to make disciples. In the following reflections, I hope to meditate on discipleship—a topic that was stressed during the reflections on this year’s Men’s Backpacking Trip.

Theological/Ministerial Reflections on Discipleship

On our first night in the woods, Father David challenged us men to live lives of meaning according to the vocations and purposes that God has ordained for us.  He challenged us to confront all that is in our lives that would inhibit us from directing our lives toward those ends. He read to us an article highlighting the challenge of living such lives in a world of increasingly individualized and disintegrated lives. In my personal reading this summer through The Brothers Karamazov, the minor character Mikhail describes a similar milieu to the young Zossima, and I find that it applies to the contemporary world just as well as it did to 19th century Russia. Zossima asks Mikhail what this isolation is that Mikhail keeps talking about.  Mikhail states:

…Everyone now strives most of all to separate his person, wishing to experience the fullness of life within himself, and yet what comes of all his efforts is not the fullness of life but full suicide, for instead of the fullness of self-definition, they fall into complete isolation. For all men in our age are separated into units, each seeks seclusion in his own hole, each withdraws from the others, hides himself, and hides what he has, and ends by pushing people away from himself…For he is accustomed to relying only on himself, he has separated his unit from the whole, he has accustomed his soul to not believing in people’s help, in people or in mankind, and now only trembles lest his money and his acquired privileges perish. Everywhere now the human mind has begun laughably not to understand that a man’s true security lies not in his own solitary effort, but in the general wholeness of humanity.

Mikhail knows well of this isolation, for he committed the act of murder in his youth and had isolated himself from others and even from his own conscience as a means to avoid being confronted for his sin. Such a life is antithetical to the life of discipleship. It is only once Mikhail confesses his sin to Zossima that he finds release and peace.

In his reflections on the life of discipleship in Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer states, “Sin wants to be alone with people. It takes them away from the community. The more lonely people become, the more destructive the power of sin over them. The more deeply they become entangled in it, the more unholy is their loneliness. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light…Sin must be brought into the light.” In a discipleship relationship in the midst of community, such openness and confession must take place. Bonhoeffer states that this transparency has only been made possible because of Christ. He states, “In the presence of Christ human beings were allowed to be sinners, and only in this way could they be helped. Every pretense came to an end in Christ’s presence…This is why Jesus gave his followers the authority to hear the confession and to forgive sin in Christ’s name.”

In fact, we are commanded as Christians to confess our sins to one another. The epistle of James commands, “Therefore confess your sins to one another, so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16) Though Christ entrusted the absolution of sin into the hands of his apostles and down through the ages into the hands of the Church’s priests (John 20:23), confession among all disciples leads to healing, for it reverses Cain’s sardonic refusal to be his brother’s keeper (Gen. 4:9). Hearing a brother or sister’s confession with care is to declare that one is their brother’s keeper. To confess one’s sin to another is to trust the other as their keeper. Such an act redeems the brokenness of the Fall and is an act of Re-creation. Commenting in his memoir on the life of a man who discipled his theological development, Stanley Hauerwas states, “If I learned anything from John Howard Yoder, it is not to trust yourself to know yourself. You learn who you are only by making yourself accountable to the judgment of others.” We need others to help us to know whether we are truly Christian, or at least what parts of our lives are resisting the reign of Christ.

One of the most frequent descriptors of the Church is that it is the Body of Christ. In Paul’s epistle to the Colossians, he commands the Colossian Christians to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, by teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.” (Colossians 3:16) In Ephesians, Paul states something similar, saying, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit, by singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, by singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, by giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 5:18b-20) When Christians teach, admonish, rejoice, and worship together, the word of Christ dwells among us and the Church is filled with the Holy Spirit, just as it filled Mary’s womb—and Christ is given flesh through our common life.

Of course, in ways, all of this is in part experienced in our time of corporate worship at All Saints Church. If one is a part of a 242 group (small group), these dynamics of discipleship in corporate worship are deepened and expanded in more profound ways. Yet, if discipleship is to look the way it looks in honest confession of sin, in admonishing and encouragement, in being our brother or sister’s keeper, discipleship must be much more intimate. In our time together on our second night, a few of us men shared how significant discipleship relationships have strengthened our lives as disciples of Christ. As a church, we are thinking and praying through how to implement such relationships into the life of the church. Please pray with us. Ask yourself whether you have such relationships within your life. If such relationships are missing from our lives, a holistic life of a disciple of Christ is not being cultivated in our lives. May we as a church commit to cultivating fuller lives of discipleship in our common life together. As we do so, may God richly dwell amongst His Church and may the Spirit fill us to be the Body of Christ in God’s world.

As we prayed on Ascension Day:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ
ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things:
Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his
promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end
of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and
reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory
everlasting. Amen.

-Sean A. Ewing

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