Friday, September 28, 2018

Bishop’s Note: September 27, 2018 – The “Jerusalem Declaration” on Awaiting Christ

Bishop Eric Menees

We continue our exploration of the Jerusalem Declaration (the full text of which can be found here:

This week we look at point fourteen – Awaiting Christ:

We rejoice at the prospect of Jesus’ coming again in glory, and while we await this final event of history, we praise him for the way he builds up his church through his Spirit by miraculously changing lives.

One of the things I love about the church are the seasons:
In Advent, we emphasize our Lord’s first coming, even as we await his second coming.
In Christmas, we emphasize our Lord’s incarnation: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
In Epiphany, we emphasize the ways our Lord was made manifest.
In Lent, we emphasize the suffering of our Lord for our sake.
In Easter, we emphasize the resurrection of our Lord.
In Pentecost, we emphasize the coming of the Holy Spirit and what it means to be the Church – the Body of Christ! This Sunday is the 19th Sunday after Pentecost.

The season that we are in now is also referred to as “ordinary” time. That term, “ordinary,” is interesting. In this season, we concentrate on what it means to live in the “in-between time” between our Lord’s Resurrection and his Second Coming. In this season, we learn what it means to be an adopted, redeemed, and renewed child of God. In this season, we learn how to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. In this season, we exercise our ministries as members of the priesthood of all believers.

We affirm in the fourteenth point of the Jerusalem Declaration that to be the Church means that we are active in the world, while seeking not to be part of the world. As Jesus tells us in his High Priestly Prayer from John chapter 17:
“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.” (John 17:14-19)

My son is fond of a clothing brand called, “Not of this World.” Several scriptures point to this concept, in addition to John 17 above. But perhaps a better understanding than “In the World, but not Of the World” would be “Not of the world, but sent into the world.”

St. Paul tells us: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  (Romans 12:2)

The wonderful mystery of being a Christian is that, for us, it is indeed ordinary to be the Church, living in the power of the Spirit. As such, we share the Good News of Jesus Christ with anyone and everyone who does not have a saving relationship with Jesus. We expect and see the “signs and wonders” of God’s miraculous powers to heal, transform, and renew broken individuals in a broken world. And we love in a way that demonstrates that we are Christians! All of this, while we expectantly await our Lord’s Second Coming!

I pray you all a blessed week!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Bishop’s Note: September 20, 2018 – The “Jerusalem Declaration” on the Rejection of False Teachers

Bishop Eric Menees

We continue our exploration of the Jerusalem Declaration (the full text of which can be found here:

This week we look at point thirteen - Reject False Teachers:

We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.

We in the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin know first hand the importance of affirming  the orthodox faith and rejecting those who reject orthodox faith. In fact, it has been a decade now since we made that momentous and correct decision.

In my first Diocesan Convention in October 2011, I addressed the Convention and stated how proud I was of Bp. Schofield and the Diocese for having the courage to step up and leave the Episcopal Church (TEC); because in their rejection of the authority of scripture and the uniqueness of Christ for salvation, TEC was literally leading people to hell. In the abandonment of the “faith once delivered,” they had, in fact, rejected the orthodox faith. 

Scripture is replete with the teaching contained in point 13 of the Jerusalem Declaration. Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15) And St. Paul charges his apprentice Timothy saying:

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:1-4)

Indeed, in every age there have been many who seek to be “relevant” to the surrounding culture, and so fulfill what St. Paul warns Timothy against. Each time we reject the authority of those who have gone astray - those who uphold what we should stand against - we are proclaiming the Truth of Christ.

When I first left TEC and worked with the people who would become the Anglican Church of the Resurrection, we very intentionally chose a mission statement that affirmed both our decision to separate ourselves from false teaching, and to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ: “We the people of the Anglican Church of the Resurrection proclaim Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life and will live in the power of His Resurrection.”  Our separation from, and rejection of, the authority of those who have left the orthodox faith is not schism, but rather faithful and bold action in affirmation of the Word of God.

St. Paul said it perfectly in the conclusion of his letter to the Church in Rome:

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” (Romans 16:17-18)

I pray you all a very blessed week.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Bishop’s Note: September 13, 2018 – The “Jerusalem Declaration” on Diversity & Liberty

Bishop Eric Menees

We continue our exploration of the Jerusalem Declaration, the full text of which can be found here:

This week we look at point twelve – Diversity & Liberty:

We celebrate the God-given diversity among us which enriches our global fellowship, and we acknowledge freedom in secondary matters. We pledge to work together to seek the mind of Christ on issues that divide us.

Have you ever noticed how our greatest strength can also be a weakness if we are not careful? I think that is true with us as Christians in the Anglican Tradition. What a beautiful strength we have in the diversity around the world. There are some forty provinces on every inhabitable continent, representing different cultures, languages, and histories. As such, we are bound together with the theology of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which lays out the basics of the faith.

However, the expression of that faith in secondary matters varies from continent to continent; province to province. For example, there are provinces, like Sidney, Australia, where the common Sunday worship is Morning Prayer, with Holy Eucharist being administered only once a month. Some provinces, like Chile (a brand new province starting November 4th), celebrate Holy Eucharist as the primary worship service, but the clergy will often wear minimal vestments — if they wear vestments at all. Some provinces place an emphasis on infant baptism, while others place emphasis on believer’s baptism; and some provinces welcome and promote women serving in the priesthood, while others — like the ACNA — do not.

I believe that this diversity is a great strength of ours, much like St. Paul spoke about in his first letter to the church in Corinth, as he discussed Spiritual Gifts. “Now there are a variety of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6) In our diversity, the spiritual gifts abound around the world; God granting those gifts that are necessary for each situation.

In conjunction with sharing our gifts with one another, St. Paul uses the image of the body as follows:

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. (1 Corinthians 12:14-20)

We are at our strongest when we value and utilize each other’s strengths. For example, in my last parish we were blessed to have a Nigerian evangelist join us for a season. We greatly benefited from that mutual relationship, including being blessed by our differences. It is when we say, “I have no need for those who do not wear vestments; or those who emphasize believer’s baptism; or those who promote women in the priesthood,” that we become weak. These are significant differences, but they are not reasons for breaking fellowship or communion.

My prayer is that we will rejoice in our diversity, and in the liberty we share on secondary issues.

I pray you all a blessed week.