Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bishop's Note: April 30, 2015 - DSJ Strategic Goals Continued

Bishop Eric Menees

Alleluia Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

In this, the fifth week in Eastertide, we continue our examination of our Diocesan Strategic Goals. As I write this Bishop's Note, I am at our conference center in the Sierra's - ECCO.  Fr. Craig Isaacs and Fr. Scott Mitchell are leading the Clergy Conference on the subject of Protecting the Sheep - Physically, Emotionally & Spiritually.

How appropriate then that the strategic goal for this week's Note is: "To regularly offer training and development opportunities for clergy and lay leaders."

Why is this so important? Because Jesus' life and interaction with the disciples demonstrates that training and developing disciples for ministry is of the utmost importance to the breaking in of the Kingdom of God: 35And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless,  like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. (Matthew 9:35-38)

Your Diocesan Leadership - Bishop, Diocesan Council, Standing Committee, and Rural Deans - are committed to providing learning opportunities to equip and empower people go out into the harvest as the laborers of the Lord.

This last Saturday, it was my pleasure to meet with the deacons and ordinands prior to the diaconal ordinations to review the primary ministries of deacons: Leading Public Worship, Evangelism, and Discipleship; and Equipping the People of God to serve the sick, the poor, the lost, and the lonely.

What are our specific goals?

S3[a]: Conduct 1 Clergy Conference with at least 70% of Diocesan clergy in attendance. .
S3[d]: Conduct 1 Clergy Retreat with at least 70% of Diocesan clergy in attendance.
S3[b]: Conduct 4 Deacon Days with at least 30% participation at each meeting.
S3[c]: Offer 6 online training courses for clergy and lay leaders.
S3[e]: Complete development of a process for licensing of lay Chaplains in the Diocese.

I am pleased to say that we are well along the way to completing these goals. However, I am most excited about the establishment of the Diocesan School for Chaplains. It is my desire, hope, and prayer that this coming Fall we will offer our first class for the School for Chaplains. This will be a specific training course to train and license lay men and women to serve in the community -with my endorsement - at schools, hospitals, prisons/jails, etc., etc. With this training, brothers and sisters will be empowered and commissioned to represent the church and to maintain accountability and continued training. In time, it is my desire to establish three centers for this training throughout the diocese.  Please keep this in your prayers, and keep an eye out for more news and announcements about the School for Chaplains.

May the Lord bless you and keep you this week!

Catechism Questions 103 - 105

103.    How should you receive the sacraments?
I should receive the sacraments by faith in Christ, with repentance and thanksgiving. Faith in Christ is necessary to receive grace, and obedience to Christ is necessary for the benefits of the sacraments to bear fruit in my life. (1662 Catechism; Articles of Religion, 28)
104.    What are the sacraments of the Gospel?
The two sacraments ordained by Christ, which are generally necessary for our salvation, are Baptism and Holy Communion, which is also known as the Lord’s Supper or the Holy Eucharist. (Articles of Religion, 25)
105.    What is the outward and visible sign in Baptism?

The outward and visible sign is water, in which candidates are baptized “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” – the name of the Triune God to whom the candidate is being committed. (1662 Catechism, 1 Peter 3:21; Matthew 28:19)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bishop’s Note: April 23, 2015 – DSJ Strategic Goals Cont.

Bishop Eric Menees

Alleluia Christ is risen!  The Lord is risen indeed.  Alleluia!

As we continue in Eastertide, we want to take seriously Jesus’ command to go into all the world baptizing in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28) Our strategic goals are set in an attempt to assist us in being obedient to Jesus’ Great Commission.

S2: “To continuously improve administration, communication, and ministries of this Diocese.”

In 2010/2011 the Diocese of San Joaquin downsized big time – cutting the Bishop’s staff to its current status of a full time Administrative Assistant and Bookkeeper and a quarter time IT/R receptionist. At the 2011 Diocesan Convention we moved away from an 18% assessment to the 10% tithe. These actions I applaud and support.

Still, there is more to do in making the administration of the Diocese of San Joaquin more effective for making disciples and training them to bring people to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

We are especially desirous of improving our communication with you, the brothers and sisters of the Diocese of San Joaquin. We have our monthly electronic newsletter, the San Joaquin Anglican. Unfortunately, we do not find all that many people checking out the Anglican. What are we doing about that? Starting last week, we are placing a hyperlink to the Anglican in the “Bishop’s Note.” This is being done in an effort to push the information forward, rather than trying to pull people in - to quote an idea from Fr. Richard James.

We learned, just last week, that our program for sending out the “Bishop’s Note” was eliminating email addresses – presumably, when people don’t click on the email a few times the address is taken off the list. So if you are reading this “Bishop’s Note:” Thank you for opening it up !

Of course, communication is a two-way street. The diocesan leadership and I can make the information available, but you - the brothers and sisters of the diocese - need to take advantage of this information AND let us know what information you’d like, or more importantly, what information will make you more effective as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

May the Lord bless you and keep you!

Bishop Menees

Catechism Questions 100 - 102

100.    How is the communion of the saints practiced?
It is practiced by mutual love, care and service, and by worshiping together where the word of the Gospel is preached and the sacraments of the Gospel are administered.
101.    How are the Church on earth and the Church in Heaven joined?
All the worship of the Church on earth is a participating in the eternal worship of the Church in heaven. (Hebrews 12:22-24)
102.    What is a sacrament?

A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. God gives us the sign as a means whereby we receive that grace, and as a tangible assurance that we do in fact receive it. (1662 Catechism)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Bishop’s Note: April 16, 2015 – DSJ Strategic Goals

Bishop Eric Menees

Alleluia Christ is risen!  The Lord is risen indeed.  Alleluia!  

This week marks a new series in my Bishop’s Note.
In March your Bishop and Diocesan Council, after a good deal of prayer and study, set out a series of Strategic Goals for the diocese for 2015. These goals fall under five categories of long-term strategic goals which set out the overarching plan for accomplishing our vision: Focus on Clergy and Lay Leaders; Continuous Improvement of Ministries & Missions; Professional Development of Clergy and Lay Leaders; and Financial Outcomes. The particulars of each of these goals have been shared with the clergy at the Mass of Chrism, and I’m asking the Rural Deans to bring these up at the upcoming Clericus meetings. Next week they will be shared with the Diocesan Standing Committee, and over the next several weeks I will be unpacking them with you - the people of the Diocese of San Joaquin - in an effort to clearly communicate our goals, solicit your assistance, and be accountable to you.

1  To provide clergy and lay leaders a variety of tools to bring people to – and disciple them – in Christ.

Evangelism and discipleship are absolutely fundamental to our Vision and Mission as a diocese and are required by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

Bringing people to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ must be of the highest priority for all Christians, but especially for me as your bishop and for the leaders of this diocese! This is accomplished by first recognizing that the scriptures are true and that at our death one of two paths exists for all people: Heaven or Hell. The resurrection of Jesus is the Gospel – the Good News – for all people. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and with their acceptance of him - their belief in his name and his resurrection - eternity with Jesus is promised!

However, Jesus desires more than evangelism; he desires discipleship. With Jesus, we desire to see lives transformed and renewed, and that happens through discipleship – active submission to Jesus and training to live lives that are a reflection of his love and grace.  

The godly desire to bring people both to a saving relationship with Jesus and into being active disciples of him, forms the basis of our life as Christians in the Diocese of San Joaquin.

I pray that as we seek to live these out together, we will - each and everyone of us - seek to be committed disciples of Jesus Christ, and be committed to discipling others.

I pray you all a blessed week!

Bishop Menees
Catechism Questions 97 - 99

97.    Who are the saints?
The saints are all those in heaven and on earth who have faith in Christ, are set apart to God in Christ, are made holy by his grace, and live faithfully in him and for him. (Ephesians 1:1; Revelation 7:9-15)
98.    What does the word “communion” mean?
The word “communion” means being “one with” someone else in union and unity. Christians use it to refer to the relationship of the three Persons within the one being of God, to our union with all three Persons through our union with Christ, and to our relationship with one another in Christ. (John 17:20-21)
99.    What is the “communion of the saints?”

The communion of the saints is the unity and fellowship of all those united in one Body and one Spirit in Holy Baptism, both those on earth and those in heaven. (Ephesians 4:4-5, Hebrews 12:1).

Note: While Bishop Menees intends his notes to be viewed primarily by those in the Anglican Diocese Of San Joaquin, with his permission, I continue to post these on our Diocese Blog. This is because there is a great deal of need for both truth and clarity among Anglicans. Evangelism is what we are called to do in the Great Commission by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Resurrection Of Jesus Christ

Easter Year B 2015

Fr. Dale Matson

There are four Gospel accounts of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ however I simply cannot state the most important event in human history any better than St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians in Chapter 15. These verses are often used at funerals to comfort the bereaved. I deemed it fitting to use them on Easter Sunday morning for it is in every sense a Gospel lesson that stands on it’s own.

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.  We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised, for if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (Verses 1-9, 12-22)

I now want to talk about an additional witness to the resurrection of Christ. In October of 2011, I was conducting Morning Prayer on the Feast Day of Henry Martyn Priest and Missionary to India and Persia. Henry Martyn labored as a missionary in obscurity also translating the Bible and Prayer Book into Hindi and Persian. Following his death at the age of only 31, he was recognized for his accomplishments throughout the world. If we serve our Lord on this earth, St. Paul tells us that our efforts are not wasted. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:58)

While Christ preached the Gospel of the Kingdom few heeded his call to follow Him. His Father rewarded Him by His resurrection and ascension to glory in Heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Father. Those who do the work of the Lord do not labor in vain whether or not they see the fruits of their labor.

As I was celebrating Morning Prayer and Holy Eucharist on that feast day for Henry Martyn, it did not seem any more or less eventful than any other Wednesday morning. We had the usual handful of clergy and lay folks who attended and I am always thankful when there are at least two of us so that we can celebrate the Liturgy of the Altar. There is great symbolism in the vessels and linen used in the Liturgy of the Altar. For example, the fair linen on the mensa or top of the altar represents the Burial Shroud of Christ.

When everyone had communed, I began to clear the liturgical vessels by handing them to Fr. Carlos standing beside me to my left to assist. He took the vessels from me and placed them on the credence table.  I had rinsed the chalice and paten, wiped them with the purificator cloth, laid the purificator on the cup and rested the paten on it. I then laid the pall on top. Clergy refer to this as doing the ablutions. It is called cleaning up after the priests by the altar guild.

Finally, I began to fold the corporal, which is a square piece of cloth, made of fine linen that is placed under the chalice and patten. A practical reason for the corporal is to contain particles of consecrated bread that may spill out.

Something caught my attention in the corner of my vision to the right. As I looked, I found myself looking into the tomb of the resurrected Christ. The boulder that covered the entrance must have been already removed since I could see directly into the tomb. Christ was standing and folding the cloth that was placed over his face when His body was put into the tomb. He then laid it down in a matter of fact fashion. I’m not sure how long I looked into the tomb and Fr. Carlos may have thought I was having a seizure as he waited from me to hand him the vessels and linen. My hands had stopped as I watched.

I then turned and finished folding the corporal and placed it on top of the Pall and handed the vessels to Fr. Carlos. Before offering the blessing and dismissal, I told those present what I had just seen. It is not customary for a priest to interrupt the rubrics of the liturgy but if you have seen the risen Christ, you must tell others.

Once again, Christ had made Himself known in the breaking of the bread just like He did with two of His disciples at an evening meal in Emmaus following His resurrection. The priest will often say a brief prayer before the priest’s host is broken, “Make Yourself Known in the breaking of the bread”. Here, Christ is fulfilling His promise He made at the Maundy Thursday meal, to celebrate with us again following His death and resurrection in the Kingdom of God.

Why did Christ fold the corporal? I read this from one source and it sounds reasonable to me. “John didn’t explain the meaning of the folded napkin in his gospel (John 20:7). The Lord folded the napkin to show that His departure was an orderly and voluntary act.  It was proof that the tomb had not been robbed and His body had not been stolen, as some later claimed.”

Although I have had prior visions and have had visions since, I don’t believe I have derived so much meaning from a single vision before or since. St. Thomas Aquinas a doctor of the church had a vision so powerful during a celebration of the Eucharist that he exclaimed that all he had written was as straw and never wrote again.

I called Bishop Schofield that night and related the vision to him. He offered up one of his patented laughs and scolded me for not making the connection between the corporal on the altar as representing the burial linen on the face of Christ. I was unaware of the connection until then.

This is a portion of the resurrection account from the Gospel of St. John which is used in the principal service in year A. “Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, ‘They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!’

Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn't go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings.  Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed— for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead.”

How is it that God can accomplish so much with a single vision to strengthen faith and confirm my vocation? Bishop Schofied noted that as a priest I am not only the Alter Christus “another Christ” as a priest, I am also In Persona Christi as I administer the sacraments. Pope Benedict XVI stated, “During the celebration of the Mass, the priest serves in persona Christi, that is, in the very person of Christ, who is truly present.”

Additionally this vision given this unworthy person confirmed the authenticity of my Anglican orders as a priest and demonstrated for all of us that Christ is present in the mass throughout and to the very end of the mass. Every Eucharist reminds us that Christ rose from the dead for our sake and offers us and those we hold in our memories, the hope received by faith that we too will rise from the grave.

Every time I think of this event, I laugh to myself when I think of Bishop Schofied’s mock scolding. I am sure he is here with us today as we celebrate Easter. He dearly loved the drama of Easter Vigil.

Most of all, however, I became another witness to the resurrection of our Messiah. Indeed, He was in the tomb but he was a resurrected Savior Who had finished the work His Father had sent Him to do even to the folding of His face cloth prior to leaving the tomb.  The Lord has risen!