Friday, August 28, 2015

Bishop’s Note: August 27, 2015 Gifts of the Holy Spirit – Teaching

Bishop Eric Menees

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  (Colossians 3:16)

Dear Friends in Christ, I am pleased to be back in the diocese and back at my desk following my vacation. Because of my absence we’ve had a break in the Bishop’s Notes for the past two weeks, so I'll pick up where I left off in our study of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Today’s Note will focus on the gift of teaching.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of this spiritual gift. St. Paul, in his letter to the Colossians quoted above, exhorts the church to teach one another. Interestingly, he doesn’t say, “Once you've gained all wisdom, and passed all sorts of rigorous exams, and been credentialed, then teach.” He says in Romans: “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching….” (Romans 12:6-7) In other words, exercise the gifts that you have!

When I graduated seminary and got into parish life, if asked, I would have told you that I do not have the gift of teaching. But, the life of a minister requires teaching and so I would spend hours and hours preparing for bible study or my sermons.  I would worry about every point and everything said. In short, I was very anxious about my teaching and relied solely upon myself. When I shared my anxiety with my spiritual director he challenged me a bit asking, “Eric are you worried that you won’t honor the Lord with your teaching, or are you worried that people won’t think you are very smart?” Sadly, while I wanted to say that it was the former, when I was honest with myself I had to admit the truth of the latter. My anxiety about teaching was that people might not think I’m as smart and prepared as I want them to think I am!  Father Bill gave me great advice: “Eric relax, prepare with prayer, and trust that the Holy Spirit will inspire you and teach through you.” Great advice! Once I stopped worrying about looking foolish I found two things: first, how much I enjoyed teaching and second, how much the Lord taught me by teaching others.

I want to encourage you, my brothers and sisters in the Diocese of San Joaquin, to make a point of being both a student of the faith and of teaching others the faith. Participate in small group bible studies; attend the classes in your congregation; join groups in the community. I promise you, if you seek to do both, you will be both a better student and a better teacher!  

I pray you all every blessing this week!  

Catechism Questions 145 -

145.    What do you know about the resurrected bodies of believers?
I know that they will match, express and serve our redeemed humanity, and be fully renewed in the image of Christ, being fully glorified in him. (2 Peter 1:4)

146.    How does the promise of bodily resurrection affect the way you live today?
Because my body was created good by God and is redeemed by him, I should honor it. I should refrain from any violence, disrespect or sin that would harm, demean or violate either my body or the bodies of others. (Romans 12)

147.    What do you know about the unending life of believers, following judgment day?
I know that it will be a life of joyful fellowship with our triune God and with resurrected believers, as we praise and serve God together in the new heaven and the new earth. (Revelation 21:1-4)

148.    How should you live in light of this promise of unending life?

I should live in joyful expectation of the fullness of my transformation, soul and body, into the likeness of Christ, as a part of the renewal of the whole creation. In the midst of life’s difficulty and suffering, and in the face of hostility and persecution for my faith, I am sustained by this hope and the knowledge of our triune God’s eternal love for me.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Bishop’s Note: Gifts of the Holy Spirit – Service

Bishop Eric Menees

"And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!'" (Luke 9:35)

Today, August 6th, we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration.  One of those feast days that all too often gets set aside or transferred.  And yet with it we recall a pinnacle of the faith, literally and metaphorically.

Immediately following St. Peter's confession of faith (Luke 9:20 "Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”)

Jesus invited Peter, James & John up the mountain to pray with him. There Jesus was transfigured before them - his clothes and countenance became a dazzling white.  At his  side appeared Moses and Elijah - representing the Law and the prophets along with Jesus' fulfillment of both.

Peter recognizes the importance of the moment but not its significance. “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”— not knowing what he said.” (Luke 9:33)

Scholars are uncertain about the meaning of Peter's statement - some argue that Peter wanted to serve and honor the three and others argue that Peter was telling the Lord, "Let's set up camp because I don't want to go down the mountain." My intuition tells me that it is the later.  Haven't you had that feeling?  You are on retreat or even simply in worship and have the desire to simply remain in the presence of the Lord?

Last week we held the High School Camp at Camp San Joaquin and the Anglican Fourth Day at ECCO and at the end of both the participants said, "I don't want to go home." But home we must go - or more accurately back out to the world.

You see Jesus reveals himself to us in Word and Sacrament, in the power of the Holy Spirit, in the midst of worship - whenever - not simply for our enjoyment and edification but for our empowerment to go back out and engage a broken and fallen world with the love of Christ.

Down the Mount of Transfiguration the disciples would go following Jesus to his crucifixion and ultimately to his resurrection!  The disciples would encounter the Risen Jesus and be sent into the world to share the Gospel - the Good News of Salvation in Jesus Christ!

Today, as we remember Jesus' Transfiguration - his demonstration of who he was and is - fully man and fully God - let us commit, once again, to go out into a world that is lost and alone with the Good News of Jesus Christ leading others up the mount and into the presence of God's only begotten son, Jesus Christ!

Let us pray: O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with you, O Father, and you, O Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

I pray you all a truly blessed week!