Friday, August 26, 2016

Bishop’s Note: August 25, 2016 – A Prayer for Clergy and People

Bishop Eric Menees

One of the disciplines that I maintain is that of Morning and Evening Prayer. The daily rhythm of praying the Psalms, reading holy scripture in a systematic way, confessing my faith, praying the collects, and time for personal intercessions, has been a bedrock for me and my family during good times and bad.

Following the decision of the California State Supreme Court not to hear our case, I’ve been working hard on the transition - submitting to the authority of the court, working with TEC, and seeking to support our clergy and lay leaders across the diocese. 

In this season, one prayer has continued to grace my lips and be a balm to my soul. It comes from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, though it may very well predate that edition of the BCP:

“ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift; Send down upon our Bishops, and other Clergy, and upon the Congregations committed to their charge, the healthful Spirit of thy grace; and, that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honour of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.”

This prayer recognizes the supremacy of God as being the source of everything that is good – spiritual and temporal. Even in the midst of these difficult times we need to give thanks to God for the good gifts that he pours upon us.

This prayer asks God’s blessing upon clergy & congregations through the “...healthful Spirit of thy grace,” without which we cannot honor and bless God. In these difficult times, we need to especially seek ways to honor God and demonstrate to a fallen world the joy we find in Christ.

I bid you all to join me in this daily prayer that God will open our eyes to His blessings and use us as His instruments!

Catechism Questions: 327-328

327. How did Jesus suffer from false witness?
The Sanhedrin, desiring Jesus’ execution, hired witnesses to lie about him. (Psalm 109:1-3; Mark 14:53-58)

328. How does Jesus bear true witness?
Jesus always speaks the truth about himself and me, and bears witness before God and Satan that I belong to him. (John 17:6-8; 18:19-24)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Bishop’s Note: August 4, 2016 – Rich Toward God

Bishop Eric Menees

The Gospel Lesson from last Sunday was taken from the twelfth chapter of Luke – the Parable of the Rich Fool. Jesus concludes the parable by saying: “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:21) Jesus’ concluding statement begs the question: What does it look like to be “rich toward God?”

There are lots of people now, and throughout history, who have preached something called “The Prosperity Gospel.” I was introduced to this heresy in the mid 1990’s. I was home mid-week, feeling under the weather and flipping through the TV channels. I came upon a television evangelist by the name of Pastor Frederick Price of the Crenshaw Ministry Center. He was a very entertaining as a preacher – but what caught my attention was a topic he kept hammering home; the idea that, “If we obey God’s commandments he will make us monetarily rich!” Just look at him, he said – he has two Bentley’s, lives in a mansion with an ocean view, and travels around the world in first class.

Of course, obeying God meant giving very generously to the Crenshaw Ministry Center. Pastor Price missed the irony. The heresy of the Prosperity Gospel is so very harmful because it leads to the false promise that God will reward faithfulness with material possessions.

However, when we compare that false hope to the promise of scripture where St. Paul writes to the church in Galatia describing the fruit of the Holy Spirit, we discover what true riches are. St. Paul tells us that the true riches of God are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) These riches cannot be purchased; they can only be received as the fruit of a true and lasting relationship with God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These are the gifts that sustain life on earth and prepare us for the life to come. These are the gifts that give life meaning and cannot be purchased, or forced, or manufactured. 

As we step out in faith, let us learn from the example of the Rich Fool and not put our attentions upon the material possessions of the earth, but rather on the spiritual fruit of a lasting relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I pray you all a very blessed week!

Catechism Questions: 321-322

321. How did God teach Israel to respect the property of others?
God gave land and possessions as a trust from him, which could be bought, sold, and inherited. He required restitution when property was stolen, and forbade unjust loans and interest. (Exodus 22:1; Leviticus 25:36-37; Numbers 27; 33:50-36:12)

322. What things other than property can you steal?
I can steal reputation, wages, and honor; credit, answers, and inventions; friendship, hope, and goodwill from others. I must repay and, to the best of my ability, restore what I have stolen. (Deuteronomy 24:14-15, 17-18; 2 Samuel 11-15; 1 Kings 21)