Category Archives: Prophets

Pentecost Sunday

Collect of the Day
Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 36:22-27
Acts 1:1-11
John 16:4b-15

Message: “In the Spirit of Jesus” by Rev. Steve Breedlove
(Check back soon for sermon audio!)

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Reading for Transformation

By now, you have likely seen in the KNN or heard during announcements that there is a group of folks reading through some important books with the shared goal of transformation.  We desire (and it’s the Spirit’s desire in us) to have our hearts transformed to love our local community (our neighbors) with Christ’s heart, and to have our church transformed to see the world with God’s eyes and hope for the world with God’s heart.

Because this is intended to be an OPEN GROUP, this blog is a great place to share some of the picture that’s forming.  Below are some excerpts from this month’s recap.  (Contact Rev. Steve Breedlove if you’d like to be on that email list!):

Great conversation tonight! I have attached the notes so that you can get a picture — but in summary, it was terrific to see how God has been moving for months at Oak Creek Village through the prayers and work of people at All Saints, Good Shepherd, and the Gathering. What has become a dominant aspect of our outreach is part of a much larger move of God to serve this community with the love of Christ.

As you read through, the are several concrete action items I want to highlight:

  1. There are many ways to get involved already. Contact Thomas Kortus if you want to help.
  2. We want to generate more information and more prayer. Thomas & Steve will be working on that.
  3. We want to see a prayer focus, perhaps a prayer walk, on a monthly basis. This could be part of a small group effort, or it could be its own thing. Paul Marvin is on this, along with Joe Adelman.
  4. There is interest in creating a small group, that has the regular ministries of a 242 group, but whose primary focus is outreach to OCV. This is Joe & Terri Adelman’s heart and prayer

If any of these things connect with you, please take the initiative. And beyond these things…there are many other issues that could get kicked up.

We’ll meet May 2 and begin discussing Andy Crouch’s book, Culture Making. Read as much as you can. Charles has done a great job of facilitating the discussion, and we may be able to induce him to continue. But if there’s someone else with an interest in leading the conversation on Crouch’s book, let me know.

Thanks for all the interest and prayers. I am genuinely excited about God’s stirring us and uniting us in mission and outreach for Christ’s sake.

Love in Christ,
Steve

As Steve says above, our next meeting is at the church on Monday, May 2.  We will be meeting from 7:30-9:15pm, and we will be discussing Andy Crouch’s Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling.  We’d love to have you!

(Note: Contact info for the folks above can be found here and here.)

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Saint Matthias

Psalm 15
Acts 1:15-26
Philipians 3:13-21
John 15:1, 6-16

A Reflection
I love this particular image of St. Matthias, because he has his hands extended with palms up and cupped, the posture of those willing to receive whatever God has for them – whether Bread of Life or dirty feet needing washed – in openness, humility, and expectancy (not to mention that it’s the posture we take when receiving Communion each week).  Truly (and literally), this is the picture of a saint.

The account of the choosing of Matthias is a moving one.  It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the way that Peter reads the Psalms in a way that most of us wouldn’t think of reading the Bible, and we may find ourselves wondering what it means that the Church “cast lots” to discern God’s will for its leadership.  Those details, however, while perhaps worth our time at some other time, should not distract us from what is at work here in the early (so early that we might even call it a pre-Church, because the Spirit had not yet been poured out) Church.

Let’s set the scene.  In the preceding verses, Jesus has just told his followers to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of the Spirit and then ascended “out of their sight” into heaven.  Those dazed folks (the disciples, Mary, several women, Jesus’ “brothers”, and apparently several unnamed others, for a total of about 120) returned to Jerusalem together “devoting themselves to prayer” but surely wondering just who or what the Holy Spirit was and how soon Jesus would come back out of the clouds to set up his kingdom on earth.

Truly, if we know that Spirit means ‘Breath’ (and in Greek it does), this community is a newly born and helpless infant, and it’s not clear yet if it will survive, let alone thrive.  The time between the Ascension and Pentecost (and in the church calendar, all the time is happening all the time, including Ascension and Pentecost this day in Epiphany) is the time waiting for a newborn to draw its own first breaths of outside air, and those brief moments seem to be taking weeks.  When we are remembering Matthias, that is what we are remembering.

Here, God, by leading the selection of Matthias by the believers, restores the believers’ hope that God is with them, has not and will not ever abandon them, and will fulfill Christ’s every promise to them.  The choosing of Matthias is the infant Church’s whimper, the promise of God that the full-throated wail of Pentecost is soon to follow.  Thanks be to God!

Collect for the Day
Almighty God, who in the place of Judas chose your faithful servant Matthias to be numbered among the Twelve: Grant that your Church, being delivered from false apostles, may always be guided and governed by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

-Rev. Nick Jordan

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Fourth Sunday After the Epiphany

Collect for the Day
Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 15
Micah 6:1-8
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Matthew 5:1-10

Sermon: “Companioning with God” by Rev. Nick Jordan
Nick Jordan invites us to understand how Micah 6:1-8 teaches us to love God and our neighbor through engagement in our world.

(sermon audio available here)

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Third Sunday After the Epiphany

Collect for the Day
Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Isaiah 9:1-4
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Matthew 4:12-23

Sermon: “Shamed for Good” by Rev. Steve Breedlove
With the help of our team which went to Rwanda in Summer 2010, Steve unpacks what it truly means to live into the kinds of foolishness, weakness, and shame with which we are marked in Christ.

(Check back later for sermon audio.)

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St. Antony, Abbot in Egypt, 356


St. Antony battles demons in the desert.

Antony is a saint which I wish I had known more about sooner.  He is functionally the Desert Father, an early example of that group of folks who, as Christianity became more the cultural norm and in certain ways more culturally accommodating, retreated further and further into the desert to live lives of study, unceasing prayer, and yes, as the need arose, battling demons.

Antony set one of the early Christian norms for what it meant to be a Christian.  Before Antony, there was the model of Biblical martyrs like St. Stephen, whose last words as he was stoned echoed Christ’s, even as Stephen saw Christ standing at the right hand of the Father in heaven.  In the early church, many Christians believed that literally dying for their faith was the truest way of living into the fullness of Christ.

Then Antony entered the picture; another saint, Athanasius, wrote about him; and there was now a new model for true holiness, which came to be called ‘bloodless martyrdom.’  The ‘way of the cross’ to which Jesus calls everyone who wants to follow him was shown to be a way that certainly costs everything (Antony himself was a rich heir who sold all he had and gave it to the poor), but which also did not necessarily involve the violent spilling of one’s blood.

Read Athanasius’ Life of Antony (really, read it, as it’s worth your time and honestly fairly accessible if you’ll give it a chance) and you find Antony more and more entering into the form of Jesus’ life.  While the author was certainly writing as someone in awe of the desert saint and the story is not historical by today’s understanding of history, the basic message is still clear: the life of Antony (and the life of every saint) looks like the life of Jesus.

The Collect
O God, by your Holy Spirit you enabled your servant Antony to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil: Give us grace, with pure hearts and minds, to follow you, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

– Nick Jordan

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Second Sunday After the Epiphany

Collect for the Day
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Isaiah 49:1-7
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
John 1:29-42

Sermon: “Sermon for the Second Sunday after Epiphany” by Rev. David Hyman
Yes, that is indeed the title, as David explains in the sermon.

(audio available here)

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All Saints on Mission

Jesus_mission_sign

Steve preached a compelling message yesterday. We love and serve a generous and gracious God who has given everything that we might be rescued from sin and death and have true life in Christ. As children of God we are called to live and love in light of who our God is, generously reaching out in love to those in need around us.

One of my favorite prayers in the Book of Common Prayer is found in the Service of Morning Prayer on page 101:

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross, that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace.  So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your name. Amen.

So now what? How can you and your family or friends actually reach out and love and serve those in need? What are some next steps?

I have the privilege of serving on the Local Missions Team at All Saints Church and I would love to give you a run-down of what we are doing and how you and your friends or family could get involved in local mission.

All Saints has three levels of involvement in local mission: Partners, Projects, and Programs.

Local Mission Partners are people and organizations that we believe in –  folks doing gospel-centered outreach in our community that we partner with financially and relationally. These are not random people and organizations; we have deep connections with these organizations, and in many cases the people we partner with are essential members of our church body.

Local mission projects and programs arise as needs are made known to our church and we feel called by the Spirit to move into the need. Projects are events that happen once a year, while Programs are ongoing. Programs take the most time and energy, but they are highly relational and bring the richest rewards. Here is a list of our local mission partners, programs, and projects, and ways for you to get involved:

Local Mission Partners:

  • World Relief – Consider volunteering as a resettlement partner. There are thirty refugee families living in Oak Creek Village from all over the world who are fleeing persecution in their home countries and starting over here in the US. You could adopt a couple, individual, or family  for 3-6 months and help them in this time of transition. Contact Tim McGee for more information. To learn more about World Relief visit their website: www.worldrelief.org.
  • Samaritan Health Clinic – SHC is a free medical clinic for homeless adults and children  as well as World Relief refugees which operates in downtown Durham. To learn more, visit the SHC website  (www.samaritanhealthcenter.org/SHC/). Contact Karyn Stitzenberg to find out how to volunteer.
  • Young Life – Pray for Rob Crocker (the new area director), local young life leaders, and students. Contact Rob about ways to get involved.
  • Ralph EnnisThe Navigators – Pray for Ralph as he writes for and trains Navigator staff around the country. Pray for Ralph and contact him for ways to support him and get involved in his ministry.
  • Hank Tarlton – InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Graduate Student and Faculty Ministries at UNC – Pray for Hank and contact him for ways to support him and get involved in his ministry.
  • Charlie Densmore – Campus Crusade for Christ – Duke University Undergraduate Ministries. Pray for Charlie and contact him for ways to support him and get involved in his ministry.
  • John and Julie Farmer – InterVarsity Christian Fellowship – UNC Undergraduate Ministries – Pray for John and Julie and contact them for ways to support them and get involved in their ministry ( jfarm07@gmail.com // juliemarie.farmer@gmail.com )
  • Urban Hope – A ministry of the Navigators serving Walltown in Downtown Durham.  Visit their website ( www.urbanhope.us ) or email Bahari Harris to learn more about Urban Hope and to get involved.
  • Kairos Prison Ministry – Kairos meets the spiritual needs of incarcerated men, women, and children; their families; and those who work in the prison environment. Learn more by visiting their website www.kairosprisonministry.org.  Email or talk to Greg or Carol Ohmstede about their involvement (gohmstede@nc.rr.com // cohmstede@nc.rr.com )

Local Mission Programs

  • Eagles NestAn after-school tutoring program which meets at All Saints on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:45-6 pm. No Spanish is needed to tutor. Contact me (Thomas Kortus) for more information.
  • ESL Classes – Classes meet on Saturday mornings at Church of the Good Shepherd. Contact me for more information.

Local Mission Projects

  • Summer Kids Club – Youth and Adults plan and organize a summer kids camp for Oak Creek Kids that includes games, crafts, music, Bible stories, snacks and culminates in a community celebration for the kids and their families. When? TBD soon!)
  • Back-to-School Backpack Project – All Saints opens its doors to Oak Creek residents to come and receive backpacks, school supplies, and access to Durham Public School administrators and staff to ask questions.  The date for next school year’s event: Sunday, August 14, 2011
Our love of God is directly connected to our love of neighbor. 1 John 3 has always compelled me concerning this reality:
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another….By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in DEED and in TRUTH.

It is clear that our love of God must produce concrete and tangible love for our neighbor in need. This is very clear in Jesus’ own teaching found in Matthew 25 in the parable of the sheep and the goats. In a mysterious and real way, how we respond to the needs of people has concrete spiritual implications. It matters.

 

Who are those in need in our community? In your life? Who is it that we are passing by daily? How should we respond? Is it complicated? Yes, but that does not mean we should not engage our neighbors in need. How is the Spirit leading you to respond to this call?

Consider getting involved with one of ASC’s local mission programs, projects or partners. Consider joining the Local Mission Team. Please contact me if you have any questions about how you can use your gifts, talents and time to love and serve our community.

-rev. thomas kortus

919-619-5007
thomas@allsaints-chd.org

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Epiphany

File:Magi (1).jpg

Throughout the history of Christianity, Epiphany has been about many things and it has been about one thing.

About many things…
In the East, there has long been a connection between Epiphany and the Baptism of Jesus, when the Spirit descended in the form of a dove.  In the West, we tend to focus instead on the coming of the Magi, who followed a newly appeared star and brought gifts to Jesus.  In fact, in Spain and much of Spanish-speaking Central and South America, today is known as El Día de los Reyes (The Day of the Kings).

Building on the story of the Wise Men, Epiphany is also worth celebrating because those non-Jewish gift-givers represent all of us Gentiles whom God came to save in Jesus.  And one final meaning: a connection has often made between Epiphany and the Wedding Feast of Cana, where Jesus began his public ministry by performing his first miracle–turning water into wine.

About one thing…
However Christians have remembered Epiphany throughout history, we have always remembered and celebrated together the revealing of God in Jesus, who is very God and very Man, the Light of the World.  As Isaiah first put it and then Matthew repeated…

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.

A Prayer for Epiphany
(An Eastern Orthodox Post-Communion Prayer for Christmas Day)

Thy Nativity, O Christ our God,
Has shown to the world the light of wisdom.
For by it those who worshipped the stars,
Were taught by a star to adore Thee,
The Sun of Righteousness.
And to know Thee the Orient from on high,
O Lord, Glory to Thee!

(by Rev. Nick Jordan)

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Friday, December 24

AM Psalm 45, 46
Isa. 35:1-10; Rev. 22:12-17,21; Luke 1:67-80

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth andteach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. (Psalm 25:4-5)

I wonder what it was like for the generations of God’s chosen people to wait and wait and wait for the promised Messiah: all those who lived and died inthe years between the prophets of the Old Testament and the arrival of John the Baptist finally proclaiming the news that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2).

I, too, find myself in a place of waiting. I’ve been here before and I don’t like it. But, here I am and God has brought me here, so I will wait for him – and with him – as he does his work in me. I know it’s a time of preparation. In past seasons of waiting, there has been healing, a stripping away of those things that have been between me and the Lord, a spiritual house-cleaning.

Prior to this, I have enjoyed a long, unprecedented season of sweet communion with the Lord – a time of open communication almost along the lines of “downloading.” It’s difficult– painful, really – to come from that place of green pastures and fresh breezes to a place that feels arid and lonely. But I know this Waiting Place is holy ground and anywhere God is working is where I choose to be.

Just as there was “darkness over the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2) at the time of creation, the Spirit of God was “hovering.” Just as there was silence from the likes of the prophets in the Old Testament, God’s Spirit was still hovering and at work preparing the way for Messiah’s birth. Just as there was darkness in the hearts of mankind, the Light of the World “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Here in my Waiting Place, even though my light feels a little dim and my quiet time with the Lord can be a little too quiet, I know the Holy Spirit is hovering, preparing and shining his light in my darkness. I will try to wait expectantly because God has shown me his faithfulness and love. He is making me to know his ways, leading me in his truth and teaching me. He is the God of my salvation and for him I will wait all the day long.

-Barbara Beasley

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