Category Archives: The Holy Spirit

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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All Saints Church Reads: Reflection by Paul Watkins

Last week we had our first (of many I pray) meetings of the All Saints Church Reads book club.

torranceThere were two meetings: one in the morning at 7 am at the Upper Room and one in the evening at 7 pm at my house. Over 15 people met and discussed the first two chapters of James Torrance’s book Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace.

It is a short book that profoundly explores the depth and grace of the gospel of God! It is a book that leads me to worship and marvel at the grace of God!

The book club will meet again on July 24th (at 7am and 7pm) to discuss the last two chapters of the book. All are welcome!

Paul Watkins attended and wrote this poignant reflection:

“The worship and mission of the church are the gift of participating through the Holy Spirit in the incarnate Son’s communion with the Father and the Son’s mission from the Father to the world.” (p. 9)

This sentence embodies the main thesis of Torrance’s book: that we live Christianly by entering into participation with what is already happening within the life of the Trinity.

Acceptable worship is already ascending to God – from our great High Priest in the heavens who ever lifts up holy hands to His Father in praise and thanksgiving; when we worship rightly, we do so only by entering into and taking part in the Son’s worship already taking place.

Likewise, acceptable mission is already happening – climactically in the Father’s sending forth the Son into the world to call all men to Himself, but also in the Son’s sending forth of the Spirit He received from the Father into the world to carry on the same mission; when we do mission rightly, we only do so by entering into and taking part in the Son’s and Spirit’s mission already taking place.

Which is to say, living Christianly does not mean offering worship and mission of our own to God, but in participating in what the Father has already provided for Himself through His Son and Spirit. This is the meaning of “grace.” It is not so much that God gives grace for us, extra nos, and we respond in faith and service for God, extra Deum, as two actions by two different actors playing their parts in turns; rather, our faith and service are nothing other than the faith and service of the Son through the Spirit operative in us, which is one and the same thing as grace itself, as one action by two different actors playing their respective parts in simultaneous, intimate co-action.

So our work (of worship and mission) and God’s grace are not two different things, traded between us; they are one and the same thing, seen from two perspectives. This is why we can never imagine our service to God apart from His grace (Pelagianism), nor imagine His grace apart from our service (radical Protestantism).

So remember, when we worship it is the Son through the Spirit that is worshiping through us. And when we go forth in mission to the world, it is also the Son through the Spirit that is going forth in mission through us.

All that we do, if we do it Christianly, is nothing other than what God Himself is doing while using us as His vessels. It is “not I, but the grace of God which is with me.” Which is to say, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” So let us be cooperators with the Spirit, and co-workers with the Son, joining them in their worship and mission as we are drawn ever more intimately into the life of the Triune God.

– Reflection by Paul Watkins

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Eagles’ Nest After School Tutoring Program

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COMING FALL 2014 

Thanks be to God! 

We are praying, planning, and recruiting toward starting Eagles’ Nest up again Fall of 2014! 

When we left our building on Garrett Road we left a neighborhood that God had called us to love and serve! We have been wrestling in prayer and conversation with how to continue being involved with people that we love and care about at Oak Creek Village for the past six months.  I have some great news! God has answered our prayers!

A few months ago Vintage Church moved into our former worship space and they heard about Eagles’ Nest. They are very interested in opening up their space for the program!

Therefore, we are partnering with Creekside Elementary School, the Gathering Church, and Vintage Church to start this ministry up again in the Fall of 2014. We need to recruit a minimum of twenty volunteers from all the churches involved in order to begin in the Fall.

Would you consider volunteering as a reading tutor? Tutors are needed Tuesdays & Thursdays from 3:45-6 p.m.

Anna Sircar has graciously volunteered to lead the team from All Saints Church. She is a veteran Eagles’ Nest Tutor with a passion for the kids in the neighborhood!

Contact Anna Sircar (anna.sircar@gmail.com) to sign up or for more information.

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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

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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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Filed under Anglicanism, Bible, Discipleship, In the News, Prayer, The Holy Spirit, theology, Uncategorized, Worship

All Saints Reads!

This summer All Saints Church is beginning a book club for all interested in exploring topics in theology, Christian spirituality, church history, and relationships. We will meet monthly and read and discuss a wide variety of books. The first two meetings will be held June 26th and July 24th in the morning and evening 7 am and 7 pm. The 7 am meeting will be held at the ASC Upper Room (3622 Lyckan Parkway Suite 5005) and 7 pm at Thomas Kortus’ Home (1 Hampshire Court, Durham). Feel free to attend the time that best fits your schedule.

For the first two months, we will discuss James Torrance’s book on Christian worship: “Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace.” On June 26th, the first meeting, we will talk about the first 68 pgs.  Please contact thomas@allsaints-chd.org for more information.

 

torrance Description of “Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace” from the  publisher:  “Here is a book that sets our worship, sacraments,      communion and language of  God back on track. In a day when refinement of method and quality  of experience are the guiding  lights for many Christians, James Torrance points us to the  indispensable who of worship, the  triune God of grace. Worship is the gift of participating  through the Spirit in the incarnate Son’s  communion with the Father, writes Torrance. This book explodes the notion that the doctrine of  the Trinity may be indispensable for the creed  but remote from life and worship. Firmly rooted  in Scripture and theology, alive with pastoral  counsel and anecdote, Torrance’s work shows us  just why real trinitarian theology is the very  fiber of Christian confession.”

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Pray for those affected by the tornadoes this past weekend

Please join us in praying for the victims and families affected by the tornadoes in Oklahoma and Kansas. Please also lift up the first responders.

“O merciful Father, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men: Look with pity upon the sorrows of thy servants for whom our prayers are offered. Remember them, O Lord, in mercy, nourish their souls with patience, comfort them with a sense of thy goodness, lift up thy countenance upon them, and give them peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

OK Tornado

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The Most Important Lenten Discipline

Donnie McDaniel preached this morning at our Wednesday morning Eucharist service. Here is his sermon! A great reminder this Lent.

Romans 5:6-11  For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person– though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.  8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.  9 Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God.  10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.  11 But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Art Lent 5 B

In preparation for preaching this morning, I was faced with the task of deciding which of these three passages that I would preach, and any of them would make for a wonderful homily, but as a preacher by trade and calling, I would not be worth my salt if I did not preach from Paul’s letter to the Romans when given the opportunity; thus, that is where we will spend our brief time together this morning. Romans, after all, has played a major role in the theology of Western Christianity, the branch of the faith in which we stand as Anglicans. It was a passage in Romans that led to the conversion of St. Augustine. It was the book of Romans that Martin Luther, the 16th century Reformer, urged all Christians to memorize. In the early 20th century it was Karl Barth’s commentary called Der Romerbrief that exploded on the playground of liberal, Protestant theology, and even today the great minds of the Christian faith continue to mine the depths of St. Paul’s masterpiece, so this morning we will be in good company.

Specifically, this morning we will be spending our time in Romans 5.6-11 where I hope we will pick up the most important Lenten practice—preaching the gospel to ourselves. A few short weeks ago, many of us were here on Ash Wednesday, and we began the great journey of Lent, a six week period of deep introspection where we take a long look at our own sins and what it cost Christ to effect such a great reconciliation between God and humanity. During Lent, many of us have chosen to follow the Great Tradition and restrict our diets. We willingly choose to go without so that we can remember more clearly what Christ has done on our behalf, but even in this season, when we are supposed to be focused on Christ, it is easy for us to look again at our own practices. Knowing the sinful bent of the human heart, the Ash Wednesday liturgy is carefully formed around a gospel text that warns us against engaging in religious practices, such as fasting, that draw attention to ourselves. And one of the best ways we can avoid this tendency is to remind ourselves of what God has done for us, and that is what we will do today as we look at the two sides of the gospel; the present assurance that we have in Christ, and the future hope that we have in him as well. So, let’s take a look at Romans 5.6-11 and see what Paul has for us this morning.

Paul, in verse nine is building upon our justification before God, an idea that he introduces back in verse one of the present chapter. The justification that we have in Christ is the declaration of our right standing with God via our participation in the life and death of Jesus Christ, who completed the work that God had prepared for him from the foundation of world. Now please note the tense that Paul uses to describe this Justification, he says we have been justified. This is something that is already accomplished. I call this the present assurance that we have in Christ. Those who have placed their faith in the finished work of Jesus the Messiah already enjoy the truth that they belong to the family of God, that is the verdict that you and I can expect from God at the final judgment, has been applied to us already. Paul then goes on to tell us that this justification arrived at God’s appointed time; this means that Jesus’ ministry including his death, resurrection, and ascension happened at the just the right moment in time. Despite how Rousseau and the rest of the Enlightenment thinkers would like to tell the story, the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus constitute the climax of history. God moved to restore his creation at exactly the right time, and this was done while we were still weak and sinful.

The fact that God justified humanity while we were weak and sinful is beautiful truth. Paul himself says here that, “God proves his love for us that while we were sinners Christ died for us.” What St. Paul is conveying to us is that humanity, individually and corporately, has done nothing to earn this justified status before God. It is entirely a free gift of grace from a loving God who stepped into the theater of history to enact a redemption that provides justification to humanity, but also, as Paul goes on to teach us in Romans 8, provides salvation to all of creation itself. This is the first half of the gospel that we should be preaching to ourselves. We should constantly tell ourselves that while we were weak and sinful, Jesus willingly gave his life that we could have the right standing with God. I know that this explains my situation when God found me. I was 17 years old, and had grown up in private Christian school. I knew all about God, but I did not know God, and there is a real difference. However, God in a display of his love for me saved me from a terrible car accident. He placed me in the life of his son and gave me purpose. I stand justified before the throne of God. I tell myself that story often, and I encourage you to relive your stories as well.

Building upon the present assurance of justification that we currently have before God, Paul goes on teach us about our future hope. Verse 9 says, “Much more surely then, now that we have been justified in his blood, will we be saved from the wrath of God.” St. Paul presents our future hope as an absolute guarantee, because compared to our justification before God, which was accomplished when we were still weak and sinful; our salvation from the coming wrath of God is a small feat on the part of God. Paul is here employing an ancient rabbinic rhetorical device of arguing from the greater to the lesser (a minori ad maius). This explains the way in which Paul describes this future hope in verse ten; God reconciled us to himself in Christ while we were still enemies. He did not wait for us to clean ourselves up and come to him; his action toward us was not predicated upon any acts of penance on our part. Rather, he took the initiative and reconciled us to himself through the death of Jesus. We can know without a doubt that our future destiny and status before God is secure in our participation in the death and life of Jesus Christ.

In fact, Paul goes to great lengths to emphasize the importance of our participation in Christ. He uses the same preposition (in) in reference to the death of Jesus and the resurrection life of Christ. We are justified in the present and saved in the future by our mystical union with Christ, often conveyed in Paul by the phrase “in Christ.” Our participation in Christ, if we follow the logic of Paul, extends to the key aspects of Christ’s work. In the very next chapter of Romans Paul gives an exposition that our baptism is one of the points where we participate in the death of Christ on the cross and rise with him on Easter morning. Therefore, when God looks down on his justified and saved saints, he sees none other than his own dearly beloved Son with whom he is well pleased.

Now that we have looked at our present assurance and our future hope, we should be in a position where we can preach this gospel to ourselves through the rest of Lent. As we remember what Christ has done for us, we can also remember that via our belief in his completed work, we participate in the life of Christ. He lives in us and we in him, just like the various Eucharistic prayers in the liturgy remind us each time we gather for worship. It is in this gospel that we will find the power necessary to complete our Lenten vows. We can wash our face in the waters of this gospel and anoint our heads with the oil of this good news. If we tell ourselves daily that we are justified in Christ, and that we will be saved from the wrath of God, no one will ever be aware of our secret fasting as we will be consuming that bread that others cannot understand. This is the message that we need to preach to ourselves, “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

As we are preaching this message to our audience of one, our views of Lent can also be transformed. We will no longer be focused on our sacrifices or our acts of penance, as if anything that you or I could do would ever place God in our debt. Rather, we will be reminded that while we were sinners Christ died for us and that this act has reconciled us completely to God in the present and secured our standing before him in the future. As I was thinking about how this gospel could change our perceptions of Lent, I came across these words from the Very Reverend Robert Munday, Dean Emeritus of Nashotah House Theological Seminary. He writes, “We would do well to remember the purposes for which Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness. He had no sins for which he needed to atone. We have no sins for which we are capable of atoning. If we could, what he did for us—what he had to do for us—would not be necessary. So Lent is really much more about what God adds to our lives as we spend intentional, focused time with him than what we give up, because the Gospel is always about what God has done for us, not about what we do for him.”

That last line, the Gospel is always about what God has done for us, not about what we do for him, sums up the discussion very well. If we preach God’s good news to ourselves during the rest of Lent, we may find that our lives are transformed. This proclamation to the self may just be the jumpstart that each of us needs to start engaging our neighbors and our co-workers with the message of God’s reconciling love in Jesus Christ. We may find ourselves all the more capable of inviting that friend that we know is lost to church for Easter services, we will have to wait and see what God does as we preach to ourselves the rest of Lent, but we can rest assured that his word will not return to him void.

 

 

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Filed under Discipleship, Evangelism, Lent, Preaching, The Holy Spirit