Renewing the Church as the Community of the Kingdom

Below are personal, introductory reflections from Bishop Wayne Boosahda on some of the elements the Spirit of Christ is using in our time for renewing the Church as the Community of the Kingdom of God on earth, involved with Him in His redeeming Mission...these reflections are meant to encourage all those who are stirred by them to further explore the resources they are meant to make available and which will be offered and communicated on a regular basis to those in relational connections with Bishop Wayne and the CEEC missional Society of St. Patrick & St. Aidan, as well as any and all who are on similar journeys for the love of Christ.


Below are personal, introductory reflections from Bishop Wayne Boosahda on some of the elements the Spirit of Christ is using in our time for renewing the Church as the Community of the Kingdom of God on earth, involved with Him in His redeeming Mission...these reflections are meant to encourage all those who are stirred by them to further explore the resources they are meant to make available and which will be offered and communicated on a regular basis to those in relational connections with Bishop Wayne and the CEEC missional Society of St. Patrick & St. Aidan, as well as any and all who are on similar journeys for the love of Christ.

The particular vision advocated below is one of the renewed and fresh 'ancient-future' perspectives on being the Church in our postmodern western societies, whether rural or metropolitan. It is one that fits in somewhat with Ray Simpson's vision of 'high street monasteries' and 'villages of God', or what we might refer to as the 'Abbey' model of being communities of the Kingdom that call people to a Way of Living in following Jesus in the declining western experiences of being the Church. I offer this article, together with others I am going to begin to send out regularly to those joining us through the Society of St. Patrick & St. Aidan (an ecumenical, relational mission society based in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches – missionalsociety.org ). My desire and longing would be to foster, nurture and resource fresh prayer and study initiatives for church planting movements. Let us pray and listen to the Lord to see if these inter-connected relational movements might be able to cross-pollinate with one another so that we can learn from one another in the unity of Christ's love as we embark on fresh 21st century pilgrimages of discovery with Christ our Shepherd, Lord and Redeemer.

My prayer and vision would be that together we seek to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom of Heaven's divinely inspired and creative strategies and solutions for transforming the Church (particularly in the Western postmodern, post-Christendom context) through modeling, living and offering freely to hungry seekers of all kinds fresh, Spirit-empowered expressions of “communities – and networks of communities - of Heaven on earth”. These initiatives would need to be birthed through much prayer and pioneering ventures of faith, obedience & sacrifice by the power of the Spirit (see Zechariah 4:1-10 -Living Bible & other translations). I propose that these types of Spirit-birthed and empowered initiatives can lead to a greater harvest moving of the Holy Spirit to bring new generations of disciples and leaders into the role of “active contemplatives” or “apostolic and prophetic prayer mystics” operating missionally out a hub or abbey center for different geographical and networked regions.

There are many budding movements already appearing in Western nations, such as our own Wild Goose Initiative (see: dioceseofstpatrick.com for a visual presentation) and many others that seem to be evidence of the Holy Spirit's action to conceive, birth and weave together varied strands of the Kingdom of God's fresh emergence and demonstration. One of the central elements of many of these emerging church planting and equipping/discipling movements (especially among those in their 20's and 30's) is what would be described as “ancient-future faith”, “three streams convergence” and “new monastic” experiences of renewal in the Way and Works of Jesus and His Kingdom. Other related terms being used would be: “The Great Tradition” or “Treasures Old and New”.

These common seeds of vision, practices and mission in following our Lord Jesus have the potential to germinate in hungry hearts across all the older “denominational” experiences of being the Church and draw together into relational, Kingdom initiatives those who are looking for deeply grounded, historically rooted - but culturally, 21st century contextualized ways of living the Way of Jesus and His kingdom on earth at this time in history. I believe that these movements also have the Holy Spirit's power, Life and blessing on them to draw spiritual seekers who do not yet know Christ personally but have passed by and beyond most of the Western Church as we have known it.

Neighborhood and community/regional “houses of prayer” have often begun to form throughout the West (such as many of the Chinese underground “house church” networks and movements began, as well as the 24/7 prayer movement out of England). And, as they have done so, they have often been gradually shaped by the Spirit into spiritual “greenhouses” that have led to divinely directed explorations and experimentations with the above described elements for being able to live the mission of God's heart in Christ that enables us to be the Good News for the “multitudes in the valley of decision” throughout the Western world.

These are some “dreams” and ponderings of an older man who has known, loved and served our Lord Jesus for 50 years and been involved in many different streams of the Holy Spirit's renewal during my journey. It has been my great and humble honor and joyful privilege to serve as a spiritual father to many church plants, church planters and communions of churches that have sought to be faithful to “the heavenly vision” in their own lives, ministries and worship communities. The apostle Peter proclaimed boldy on the day of Pentecost that in the last days the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all humanity and that there would be visions, dreams and prophesying through young and old and through men and women of every people group, social status and nation which would release many signs and wonders resulting in hungry and receptive hearts receiving God's healing, saving, transforming work in Jesus His Son.

As this moving of the Holy Spirit is released, there will be need for these fresh, ancient-future, convergence, Great Tradition, new monastic communities and movements to gather in the harvest and reverently tap the spiritual treasures that will enable Christ to be fully formed in each new believer born anew into the Household of God. Let us pray together, let us worship the Three of Great Love and Mercy together, let us dream and listen for His Voice together so that, as with Mary the mother of our Savior, something wondrous might be conceived within us as the Holy Spirit comes upon us and the power of the Most High overshadows us to incarnate anew the ministry of Jesus in making disciples of all nations.


Yours in the Way of Jesus,
Bishop Wayne Boosahda

The Second Week of Advent

Preparing our Hearts and asking for the Grace

We prepare this week by stepping up the longing.  We move through this week by naming deeper and more specific desires.

Each morning this week, if even for that brief moment at the side of our beds, we want to light a second inner candle.  We want to let it represent “a bit more hope.”  Perhaps we can pause, breathe deeply and say,

Lord, I place my trust in you.

Each day this week, as we encounter times that are rushed, even crazy, we can take that deep breath, and make that profound prayer.  Each time we face some darkness, some experience of “parched land” or desert, some place where we feel “defeated” or “trapped,” we hear the words, “Our God will come to save us!” 

The grace we desire for this week is to be able to hear the promise and to invite our God to come into those real places of our lives that dearly need God's coming.  We want to be able to say: 

Lord, I place my trust in your promise.  Please, Lord, rouse your power and come into this place in my life, this relationship, into this deep self-defeating pattern.  Please come here and save me.

Each night this week we can look back over the day and give thanks for the moments of deep breath, that opened a space for more trust and confidence in God's fidelity to us.  No matter how difficult the challenges we are facing - from the growing realization of our personal sinfulness, to any experience of emptiness or powerlessness, even in the face of death itself - we can give thanks for the two candles that faithfully push back the darkness.  And, we can give thanks for the graces given us to believe that “Our God will come to save us” because we were given the courageous faith to desire and ask boldly.

Come, Lord Jesus.  Come and visit your people. 
We await your coming.  Come, O Lord.

A Presence in the World

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By:  Bishop Wayne Boosahda

“It can only be that God begins in a small way at one single place in the world. There must be a place in the world – visible, tangible – where the salvation of the world can begin; that is, where the world becomes what it is supposed to be according to God’s plan. Beginning at that place, the new thing can spread abroad, but not through persuasion, not through indoctrination, not through violence. Everyone must have the opportunity to ‘come and see’. All must have a chance to behold and test this new thing. Then, if they want to, they can allow themselves to be drawn into the history of salvation that God is creating. Only in that way can their freedom be preserved. What drives them to the new thing cannot be force, not even moral pressure, but only the fascination of a world that is changed.” Gerhard Lothenk.

The quote above is one of the most inspired articulations of the Gospel and its' call for us as His people to become His incarnate Presence "in a small way at one single place in the world...that is, where the world becomes what it is supposed to be according to God's plan" that I have ever come across. I wanted to share it with all of you and to include my own reflections on some of its implications during this Advent season and journey.

Advent in its essence is certainly the beginning of that journey towards a specific place - the lowly manger, the Holy Family, the radiant God incarnate in the newborn Son - where shepherds, townsfolk and Kings were drawn to 'come and see', to behold and test and taste and see for themselves this "new thing".  Being the Church as pilgrims in this world doesn't mean we lack a rootedness in a certain place where we can grow together, while on the Way toward the fullness of the Kingdom salvation of our God.  It means we are called, in renouncing and denying ourselves to take up our cross and follow Jesus in faith, love and radical obedience, to so live His Life together that others "can allow themselves to be drawn into the history of salvation that God is creating...only by the fascination of a world that is changed."

There is a great cost to answering this kind of call to follow Jesus; for, it not only involves a personal journey and response, but also a communal, commonly shared, familial commitment to allowing the power of Christ's Advent into our lives to be so central, foundational, preeminent that our local gatherings and mission as Christ's members - and thereby, members of one another - becomes His tangible, visible Presence that can be seen and experienced - "where the salvation of the world", and our local communities and settings can begin.

Advent is a journey of longing, a journey of anticipation, a journey of expectation that finds the beginning of its' fulfillment in the incarnate Creator and Redeemer lying vulnerable in a manger, in a cave on the side of a hill, pointing us to His willingness to share in our human nature so that the creation could begin again!  Begin to be made new through His first Advent.  Between the first and second Advent, which we ponder over and mediate on in preparation, we are called to be A Presence in the Word - His Presence in the world!  I am convinced that this can only happen in a world transforming way if, as His members, His family, His humble, but royal priesthood of kings, we are willing to allow Him to probe the depths of our hearts during the season of Advent and Christmas in a way that will make manifest the leavening power of His reign of redeeming love within and among us.  So that can then become 'epiphany' experiences and encounters for all those world-weary, empty cistern lives around us - in our place - that feel the tug to another world, another Way of Life and are looking for communities of Christ's Body that are slowly, but genuinely attempting to grapple with the questions, "how then shall we live?" and "who is it that you seek?"

Advent is about His loving mercy and grace in Jesus His Son working in us in such a way that we are more deeply changed, equipped and prepared to be the Good News in every aspect of our living, not just "church" or "spiritual" times and settings.  To become the ambassadors of another government and culture, the government that is on His shoulders, and is ever increasing in its power and peace and to offer in our imperfect but graced and in-Spirited way - together - "a place where the salvation of the world can begin...where the world becomes what it is supposed to be according to God's plan."  All the while living on journey that looks for and longs for His second Advent to complete and consummate His Kingdom on earth as in Heaven.  This is Advent, a Presence in the world, in sometimes small places or small beginnings (remember! do not despise those small beginnings; for "the eyes of the Lord rejoice to see the work begin!" Zech. 4:10) and we are the communities of the Presence available to embrace and love fellow searching sojourners, all being drawn to the same manger, the same Cross, the same Light, the same promise and Hope that in His coming He has already begun to make all things new!

  "Come, Thou long expected Jesus,

   Born to set Thy people free;

   From our fears and sins release us;

   Let us find our rest in Thee!"

May each of you experience a joyful, soul-searching, faith renewing Advent journey, together with your families and all those you serve in Jesus' wonderful Name.

Yours in the Way of Jesus,
Bishop Wayne Boosahda

The First Week of Advent

As we begin Advent, we light one candle in the midst of all the darkness in our lives and in the world.  It symbolizes our longing, our desire, our hope.  Three “advents” or “comings” shape our desire.  We want to be renewed in a sense that Jesus came to save us from our sin and death.  We want to experience his coming to us now, in our everyday lives, to help us live our lives with meaning and purpose.  And we want to prepare for his coming to meet us at the end of our lives on this earth.

So, we begin with our longing, our desire and our hope.

When we wake up, each day this week, we could light that candle, just by taking a few moments to focus.  We could pause for a minute at the side of our bed, or while putting on our slippers or our robe, and light an inner candle.  Who among us doesn't have time to pause for a moment?  We could each find our own way to pray something like this:

“Lord, the light I choose to let into my life today is based on my trust in you.  It is a weak flame, but I so much desire that it dispel a bit more darkness today.  Today, I just want to taste the longing I have for you as I go to the meeting this morning, carry out the responsibilities of my work, face the frustration of some difficult relationships.  Let this candle be my reminder today of my hope in your coming.”

Each morning this week, that momentary prayer might get more specific, as it prepares us for the day we will face.  And as we head to work, walk to a meeting, rush through lunch, take care of errands, meet with people, pick up the phone to return some calls, answer e-mail, return home to prepare a meal, listen to the ups and downs of our loved ones' day, we can take brief moments to relate our desire for the three comings of the Lord to our life.

If our family has an Advent wreath, or even if it doesn't, we could pray together before our evening meal.  As we light the first candle on the wreath, or as we simply pause to pray together our normal grace.  Then, as we begin to eat, we can invite each other, including the children, to say something about what it means today to light this first candle. 

Perhaps we could ask a different question each night, or ask about examples from the day.  How am I getting in touch with the longing within me?  How did I prepare today?  What does it mean to prepare to celebrate his coming 2,000 years ago?  How can we prepare to experience his coming into our lives this year?  What does it mean for us now, with our world involved in so much conflict? How are we being invited to trust more deeply?  How much more do we long for his coming to us, in the midst of the darkness in our world?  In what ways can we renew our lives so we might be prepared to greet him when he comes again?  Our evening meal could be transformed this week, if we could shape some kind of conversation together that lights a candle of anticipation in our lives.  Don't worry if everyone isn't “good at” this kind of conversation at first.  We can model it, based on our momentary pauses throughout each day, in which we are discovering deeper and deeper desires, in the midst of our everyday lives.

And every night this week, we can pause briefly, perhaps as we sit for a minute at the edge of the bed.  We can be aware of how that one, small candle's worth of desire brought light into this day.  And we can give thanks.  Going to bed each night this week with some gratitude is part of the preparation for growing anticipation and desire.

Derek Shore's Shout Out!

I would like to give a shout out to the bishops of the Christian Communion International and the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches. The websites don't give you the complete story. I have spent two days praying with them. Watching them engage each other in fun, seriousness, and even disagreement. It has been my privilege to be there as they talked about serious and sober theological issues, vision, and the Kingdom of God increasing on this earth in a Convergence context. They wrestled with issues of faith and how is the Lord best served in expressing these issues. The were gut level honest about how faithful they desire to be to the call of the Lord and the humble service which they are honored to perform in His name, in spite of their short-comings. They confessed their faults one to another, the worshiped like they it was their lifestyle and did I mention the earnest prayers over each other and those of us in the room. They are men laying down their life for the other, and let me tell you they LOVE the people they serve and I promise evil is beaten back where their feet tread. They are true "Father's" in the faith to myself and thousands of others. If you are looking for valid and rooted historicity, contemplative and Jesus-centric spirituality, and humble yet bold charismatic expression...you can do no better than to be yoked on earth with these bishops. I love each one of you for the gift that you are!

Running To The Truth.

In “The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection” by Eugène Burnand, John clasps his hand in prayer while Peter holds his hand over his heart.  The viewer feels the rush as their hair and cloaks fly back with the wind.  They are sprinting towards discovery of the moment that forever altered heaven and earth.  As you look at it, engage for a moment in what the Catholic blogger Bill Donaghy calls “the visual equivalent of Lectio Divina.”  As Donaghy notes, “This Resurrection scene does not put us before still figures near a stagnant stone, or figures standing with stony faces in a contrived, plastic posture, pointing to an empty tomb. This scene is dynamic; we are in motion.”

Apart from Jesus’ mother, no other three participants capture the closeness of Jesus’ encounter with humankind quite like John, Peter and Mary of Magdala. Their interactions with Christ embody a relationship to God previously unimaginable to mankind.  Jesus turning to Peter as they sit by the fire and asking three times, “Do you love me?”, thereby washing away the sin of the three denials past; Christ turning to John in the midst of his suffering and saying, “Behold, your mother,” giving her to the Church entire.  And, of course, the beautiful moment about to transpire in which Jesus’ merely says Mary’s name and she recognizes Him with a cry of “Rabbouni!”  They are the moments which cause one to wonder how those who truly hate Christianity (not merely disbelief it) can remain so hostile to its narrative beauty. - Elise Ehrhard

Thoughts From Our Friend, Pope Francis

This text is an excerpt from the English translation of the Holy Father's homily delivered Sunday at Mass in St. Peter's Square. We pray that this week be truly holy for all of us!

"At the heart of this celebration, which seems so festive, are the words we heard in the hymn of the Letter to the Philippians: “He humbled himself” (2:8). Jesus’ humiliation.

These words show us God’s way and the way of Christians: it is humility. A way which constantly amazes and disturbs us: we will never get used to a humble God!

Humility is above all God’s way: God humbles himself to walk with his people, to put up with their infidelity. This is clear when we read the Book of Exodus. How humiliating for the Lord to hear all that grumbling, all those complaints against Moses, but ultimately against him, their Father, who brought them out of slavery and was leading them on the journey through the desert to the land of freedom.

This week, Holy Week, which leads us to Easter, we will take this path of Jesus’ own humiliation. Only in this way will this week be “holy” for us too!

We will feel the contempt of the leaders of his people and their attempts to trip him up. We will be there at the betrayal of Judas, one of the Twelve, who will sell him for thirty pieces of silver. We will see the Lord arrested and carried off like a criminal; abandoned by his disciples, dragged before the Sanhedrin, condemned to death, beaten and insulted. We will hear Peter, the “rock” among the disciples, deny him three times. We will hear the shouts of the crowd, egged on by their leaders, who demand that Barabas be freed and Jesus crucified. We will see him mocked by the soldiers, robed in purple and crowned with thorns. And then, as he makes his sorrowful way beneath the cross, we will hear the jeering of the people and their leaders, who scoff at his being King and Son of God.

This is God’s way, the way of humility. It is the way of Jesus; there is no other. And there can be no humility without humiliation.

There is another way, however, opposed to the way of Christ. It is worldliness, the way of the world. The world proposes the way of vanity, pride, success… the other way. The Evil One proposed this way to Jesus too, during his forty days in the desert. But Jesus immediately rejected it. With him, we too can overcome this temptation, not only at significant moments, but in daily life as well.

In this, we are helped and comforted by the example of so many men and women who, in silence and hiddenness, sacrifice themselves daily to serve others: a sick relative, an elderly person living alone, a disabled person…

Let us set about with determination along this same path, with immense love for him, our Lord and Saviour. Love will guide us and give us strength. For where he is, we too shall be (cf. Jn 12:26). Amen."

Thoughts From Author Leslie Newbigin

Photo by bpperry/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by bpperry/iStock / Getty Images

When the church ceases to be one, or ceases to be missionary, it contradicts its own nature, yet the church is not to be defined by what it is, but by that End to which it moves. And the power of that end now works in the church, the power of the Holy Spirit who is the earnest of the inheritance still to be revealed. To say that the deadlock in the ecumenical debate will be resolved in a perspective which is missionary and eschatological is not true unless it is understood that that perspective means a new obedience to, and a new possession by, the Holy Spirit. It is a perspective inseparable from action, and that action must be both in the direction of mission and in that of unity, for these are the two aspects of the one work of the Spirit.

Leslie Newbigin: from his book,
The Household of God, written in 1953

EMBRACING THE LENTEN SEASON

Photo by vitanovski/iStock / Getty Images

By Presiding Bishop, Charles Travis

February the 18th is Ash Wednesday and the start of the LENTEN Season in the Christian Church calendar. It is the day for the imposition of ashes on our foreheads to remind us that from dust we came and to dust we shall return. It reminds us of our humanity and HIS divinity, our frailty and HIS omnipotence, our helplessness and HIS provision.

Originating in the fourth century of the church, the season of Lent spans 40 weekdays beginning on Ash Wednesday and climaxing during Holy Week with Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday), Good Friday, and concluding Saturday before Easter. Originally, Lent was the time of preparation for those who were to be baptized, a time of concentrated study and prayer before their baptism at the Easter Vigil, the celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord early on Easter Sunday. But since these new members were to be received into a living community of Faith, the entire community was called to preparation. Also, this was the time when those who had been separated from the Church would prepare to rejoin the community.

Today, Lent is marked by a time of prayer and preparation to celebrate Easter. Since Sundays celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the six Sundays that occur during Lent are not counted as part of the 40 days of Lent, and are referred to as the Sundays in Lent. The number 40 is connected with many biblical events, but especially with the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for His ministry by facing the temptations that could lead him to abandon his mission and calling. Christians today use this period of time for introspection, self examination, and repentance. This season of the year is equal only to the Season of Advent in importance in the Christian year, and is part of the second major grouping of Christian festivals and sacred time that includes Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost.

Lent has traditionally been marked by penitential prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Some churches today still observe a rigid schedule of fasting on certain days during Lent, especially the giving up of meat, alcohol, sweets, and other types of food. Other traditions do not place as great an emphasis on fasting, but focus on charitable deeds, especially helping those in physical need with food and clothing, or simply the giving of money to charities. Most Christian churches that observe Lent at all focus on it as a time of prayer, especially penance, repenting for failures and sin as a way to focus on the need for Gods grace. It is really a preparation to celebrate Gods marvelous redemption at Easter, and the resurrected life that we live, and hope for, as Christians.

For more info go to www.crivoice.org

 

A Spring for You

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It has been said that one reason people eventually stop growing and learning is they become less willing to risk failure by trying new ideas or experiences. Change can be difficult and uncomfortable. If our ambitions are only to avoid the discomforts of life, we could soon find we have very little life at all.

God wants us to have the most joyful, fulfilling life possible, and sometimes that requires stepping out into the unknown. Is there a new experience or idea you have been hesitant to pursue? You will never know until you try.

A Good Thought

Be Satisfied With Nothing But Your Best.
Edward Rowland Sill

A Good Word

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 (New American Standard Bible)

Blessings

Heavenly Father, give your servants
such an awareness of
Your goodness and Your mercy,
that with a thankful heart they
may give praise for the fulfillment of
Your Holy Word in their life today.
Amen.