Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bishop's Note: Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Pentecost - Proper 9

 Bishop Eric Menees
O God, who hast taught us to keep all thy commandments by loving thee and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to thee with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Last week I had the great honor of participating in the election of the second Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America - The Most Rev. Foley Beach. The bishops met in conclave for our first election of an archbishop following the model of the Roman Catholic Church. In this process the bishops committed to entering into a time of prayer and fasting, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Archbishop Duncan, our first archbishop, opened with one of his favorite sayings: "Let's keep the main thing the main thing," quoting Stephen Covey.

In a very real way this week's collect is also reminding us to, "keep the main thing the main thing." The collect reflects the fact that God has, through His Word, taught us to keep all of His Commandments. What comes to mind when you think of God's Commandments? The 10 Commandments are a likely answer.  God gave Moses the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) - not Ten Suggestions, as is often said. Let's be honest - how tough is it to follow the 10 Commandments? Well, about half are super easy to follow because they are negative commandments - Thou shalt not: Steal, Murder, Commit Adultery, Bear False Witness, take the Lord's Name in Vain. The other half are tougher - Worship God and Him Alone, Keep the Sabbath, Have No Idols, Honor Father and Mother, Do Not Covet.   

Jesus summed up all the commandments by reminding us to, “keep the main thing the main thing.” When asked what the greatest commandment was, he said that we are to: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39)

Let me ask: How's that going for you, fulfilling the greatest commandment? If I'm honest, fulfilling the greatest commandment is my highest aspiration but, admittedly, impossible without the assistance of God the Holy Spirit, whose power and grace constitute our only hope in being able to keep God’s commandments. Simply by seeking to love God and neighbor by His own power and grace, we offer the greatest witness to the world around us. Jesus again told the disciples, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13: 34-35)

Simply said, LOVE is the main thing. We can and will fulfill the commandments of God if we will but love Him and love one another! I pray that this week you will both give and receive that same love from our one God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

God bless you all!

PS. This week I am starting a new practice - placing one of the questions and answers from the ACNA Catechism along with my Bishop's Note.  I pray that you will read it, memorize it and share it with others.


1. What is the Gospel?
The Gospel is the good news of God loving and saving lost mankind through the ministry in word and deed of his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15:1-4; Romans 5:15; John 1:12; 1 John 5:11-12)
Note: The Bishop's notes are written for the ADSJ and posted here with his permission for a wider audience. I included his Catechism question because To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism is a seminal document that I believe will help form our identity internally and give other churches an orthodox picture of Anglican Christianity in post Christian cultures. May God richly bless those who wrote it and those who read and inwardly digest it. The new ACNA Catechism is available here:

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