From A Shepherds Heart

A letter from Archbishop Foley Beach

As followers of Jesus in the modern world, we can often get side-tracked by all the noise of technology, social media, politics, and busy schedules and forget what our lives are to be about in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul reminded his disciple, Timothy, what Jesus has commanded for us all: “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith (1 Timothy 1:5).” True love flows from a heart that is pure, a conscience that is clear, and faith that is real.

Paul was reinforcing the teaching of Jesus: “A new commandment I give to you that you love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34,35).” The commandment to love was not new for the people of God; this is what the Law taught. What was new in the commandment was to love as Jesus loved. His love was different, so much so that He tells His followers to abide (remain) in His love and His joy would not only be in them, but their joy would be full (John 15:9-12). If we are to abide in His love and to love others as He has loved us, we must ask the question: how has He loved us? Let me share four ways.

1. HE SHARED HIMSELF. This is what the Church calls the Incarnation, God entering the human race. “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).” He set aside His divinity, His glory, and His majesty, and entered into our world as one of us. He became a human being. “This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him (1 John 4:9).”

How do we love like Jesus loved? We share ourselves with others; we enter into their worlds. Whether this is a spouse, friend, neighbor, co-worker, child, or unbeliever, we leave the comfortableness of our world and go into theirs. We leave our glory, go humble ourselves, and enter into their world. Too many attempts to share Jesus with others are rooted in an expectation that “the other” come to us. But like Jesus, love is expressed when we leave our world, our culture, our network of friends, and enter to the others’ world and share in their lives.

2. HE SERVED OTHERS. Jesus expressed His love with action and deeds in serving. He taught, He performed miracles to help and heal people, He traveled great distances, and He even washed his disciples’ feet, the cultural role of a servant. Jesus explained his actions of love in this way: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve (Mark 10:45).”

This may sound strange to you, but real love is about the other person. It is not about you or me. When you love someone, it is not about the romantic feelings you might have. It is about the other. Jesus modeled His love by serving others. As followers of Jesus (disciples), we express love by serving others. Those of us in leadership roles must ask: Am I a serving leader or a self-serving leader? Jesus loved by serving.

3. HE SACRIFICED. Jesus expressed his love by His sacrifice, His death on the cross. He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 13:15).” He sacrificed Himself so that we have forgiveness of our sins. He sacrificed Himself so that we might have a relationship with God. He sacrificed Himself when he didn’t have to. The Apostle John says it like this: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10).” The Apostle Paul explains it this way, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).”

How do we love one another as Jesus loved us? We sacrifice for others. We pick up our cross daily and follow Jesus. That is, we die to self and live for God. We sacrifice our selfishness and self-centeredness. We live as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1).

This does not mean that we compromise what is right and what is true. We do not set aside the commandments of God in the name of love. Love is sacrificing self to follow the commandments of God. As Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives within me, and the life I live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

4. HE REMAINED STEADFAST. Jesus was committed to His mission. He was resolute, dedicated, and unwavering. This is love. The writer to the Hebrews says it this way: “Let us fi x our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down on the right hand on the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:2,3).”

Too many of us have bought into the “love is a feeling” philosophy of our culture. If I feel love, I love. If I don’t feel love, I don’t love. If I fall in love, I get married. If I fall out of love, I get divorced. The Apostle Paul contradicts this definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13 saying that love is not about how I feel: “Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not envious. Love is not arrogant. Love is not rude. Love does not insist on its own way. Love is not irritable. Love is not resentful. Love does not rejoice in sinful behavior. Love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends (1 Corinthians 13:7,8).” Jesus modeled this kind of love.

Brothers and sisters, the aim of our charge is love. As the Anglican Church in North America, we are attempting to reach North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. Let’s ask God to help us to do this. During the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, let us reach out to others with the love of Jesus Christ.

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The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate

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Advent and the Inner Landscape of our Soul

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A note from Bishop Steve Wood

In the title essay of her collection of essays, When I Was a Child I Read Books, the author, Marilynne Robinson recounts her days growing up accompanied by the inherent loneliness of Idaho and the enduring positive benefit of this kind of loneliness (she notes that for Americans of a certain era such emotions as mourning, melancholy, regret, and loneliness were “high sentiments, as they were for the psalmist and for Sophocles, for the Anglo-Saxon poets and for Shakespeare”). Being a child of the Midwest with family still scattered across her hills and hollows along with a son who with his family live in Montana, Robinson’s essay was resonant.

All of this was brought to mind with the advent of Advent and having recently returned from a week in South Dakota where I was struck again by the beautiful loneliness of the post-harvest landscape – with winter settling in – and the long wait ‘til spring.

These high sentiments of mourning and melancholy and loneliness are often my companions. I experience them in the solitude of life.  Sometimes in the poetry of a Herbert or Whitman or Donne, other times listening to the “wh-who’s” of the owls and howls of the coyotes while walking through the chilly black woods under a full November moon.

This week we, the church universal, mark the beginning of our church year with the season of Advent.  The season of Advent is a season of preparation as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ. Our seasonal collects and hymns have as their backdrop the prophetic witness to the people of Israel waiting in their “lonely exile” for their Messiah.  They mark as well our waiting in a lonely exile as a peculiar people for the Messiah’s second Advent. The church seasons are meant to help us navigate the landscape of our inner being. They can, at their best, give shape and rhythm to our spiritual life.  They can, at their best, provide the opportunity to recognize and embrace aspects of our life we might wish to ignore – all within the context of the faith and our community of faith.

The season of Advent is a season of preparation as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth.  We live as some have said, “in between the times.” Meaning that we live between the incarnation and the final consummation of His return  And in this waiting, I find a sense of the high sentiments of which Robinson wrote. I find myself saying often with the biblical writers, “Maranatha” – “come, Lord.” I find myself waiting and wondering with the Psalmist who asks, ‘how long?”  How long until our Lord’s triumphant Advent?

So, how can Advent help us navigate the inner landscape of our soul?

Well, we do know something of Christ as we await the final consummation. We are not left as orphans.  He has come. He has given us His Spirit. And so, our waiting is a patient waiting. Patient because we have confidence in Christ and His promise to return.  Patient because of His promise that He will set all things right. Patient because of His promise that there will be a day and a place where there will be no more tears, a day and a place where we will see Him face-to-face.  This confident, patient waiting can give us – if and as we cooperate with the Spirit’s work in our lives – the opportunity to examine and address those hindrances and obstacles in our lives: our crooked paths, our rough places. This waiting though is suffused with inherent loneliness and longing.  A loneliness and a longing that allows one to, in Robinson’s words, “experience . . . radical singularity, one’s greatest dignity and privilege.” That allows one to navigate the landscape of the heart and to discover again that our high sentiments and deepest desires are pointers that point to One thing – the One man, Christ Jesus – who alone is able to satiate our heart.

Come, Lord Jesus.

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All Souls, Lexington, SC Launching in September

After 9 months of prayer and planning, Church of the Apostles will be launching a new church plant in Lexington, SC called All Souls Church. We will launch on September 15. Over these last few months, the Lord has gathered a team of 40 people out of both the Apostles family and the town of Lexington to help begin this new work, and we are so excited to see what the Lord will do through us as we seek to spread the good news of Jesus to all people.

Lexington is the largest and fastest growing suburb of Columbia, with nearly 100,000 people in the zip codes where All Souls will be serving. Please pray that the Lord will use us to share Jesus with those who have never heard the gospel and those who haven’t heard it in a long time. We have built a fantastic relationship with Heritage Christian Academy where we will meet for worship, and we are so thankful to have such a wonderful place to start. To learn more about All Souls Church, please visit allsoulslex.com, and be sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Healing Family Wounds Conference

by All Saints Church, Weddington, NC

Join us for a time of ministry and prayer, as Rev. Rob Kunes explores the healing of families. Many of us carry wounds in our hearts from our families. Rev. Rob will cover praying with confidence, praying for healing of families, the connection between personal and family healing, and inviting the Holy Spirit to bring Jesus’ healing.

This conference is dedicated to bringing us to the fullness of Jesus Christ’s ministry as is directed in the great commission. The Keynote Speaker is The Rev. Robert M. Kunes, Jr. who serves as Chaplain to the Staff and Director of The Prayer Center at St. Christopher Camp & Conference Center, a ministry of the Diocese of South Carolina. Discipleship and teaching people – especially young adults –to hear the voice of the Lord, and to pray expectantly are Rev. Rob’s ministry passion.

“The healing ministry was a large part of my calling to vocational ministry, and it was confirmed by the Lord when I received a huge inner healing, during our first semester of seminary, which cured us of four years of infertility. I love watching the Holy Spirit do His work in and through people. Discipleship is learning and applying the word of God to our lives. This is fruitless without the leadership of the Holy Spirit.”

TO REGISTER ONLINE: allsaintsweddington.org/2019-healing-conference
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Judy Rowe judy@allsaintsweddington.org
Please come with an open heart – expecting a touch from God!

ALL SAINTS ANGLICAN CHURCH. 5328 Hemby Rd Weddington, NC
COST: $60 <> 704-246-8023

 

Build Together Sunday

by Bishop David Bryan, Suffragan 

We are still a very young movement.  The vast majority of our congregations are first generation churches that have particular needs as well as missional opportunities in their respective communities.  A congregation’s ability to acquire a permanent location and to “place a stake” in their mission field is a very critical indicator of long-term fruitfulness of the congregation, and of our diocese.

Bishop Wood announced at our diocesan Synod last March that we will commence an annual Build Together campaignto help churches of the Diocese of the Carolinas that are making the critical transition into their initial permanent location/building.

The second Sunday of Advent (December 8th this year) is designated as “Build Together Sunday” and churches will have the opportunity to share information (inserts, slides, videos) provided by the diocese with their congregations and receive designated gifts/pledges that Sunday.

The Standing Committee of the Diocese will oversee the development of criteria, administration and distribution of these funds to churches who make appropriate an application and request.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians about congregations helping other congregations:

You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, theywill glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you.  Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!       –2 Corinthians 9:11-15

We are stronger together in the Diocese of the Carolinas and this is a tangible and very strategic way we can advance the kingdom of God in the Carolinas.