Celtic Briefing #4

Welcome

This post is an opportunity in which we as a whole community can participate in our monthly Celtic worship and experience the way each theme works in our church, in our homes, and in our lives.   This coming Sunday at 11:30 AM on 20 January 2019, in our usually place of worship, we have before us a portion of the biblical text in which to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest. This outline will help us all think a bit more deeply about how God is calling us in a formation of a vision for the Anglican Church in Freiburg.  Remember, it is a journey!  The structure that is outlined here is one where we get a brief picture of the reading, followed by some core idea that highlights the passage.  I, Christopher, will offer a few of my own thoughts in regard to the passage and our community, and leave you with some questions that might be a starting off point for discussions around your home tables after Sunday worship as you enjoy a day of rest and re-creation.  

In essence:

Our reading will be taken from Matthew 20.26 which is only just a small sample of a marvellous passage.  I really think that verse 25-28 sets a larger scene and is likely a more familiar context. The passage speaks of a reversal of leadership that seemed foreign, and remains a somewhat foreign concept in this age.  

The central ideas:

The historical context of this passage shows that God’s kingdom requires a different point of view.  When many had experienced a Roman reign that claimed divine authority with might and majesty, Jesus turns things, as N.T. Wright has described, the right way up, where the servanthood of Jesus is the path of glory. One only needs to think of the mocking of Jesus with a purple robe and crown of thorns placed upon him prior to the crucifixion. Another reminder of servant ministry is to recall the ‘orders’ of the church. The Deacon, with their colourful stole slung over one shoulder and across the chest as a symbol of their ministry of service, much like Jesus when preparing to wash the feet of his disciples at the last supper.  

Some brief thoughts:

A style of misinformed belief, which has become more popular in some areas clashes against this message of leadership in the gospel.  The ‘prosperity gospel’ which in simplistic terms suggests that God rewards good people with financial riches and positions of power speaks conversely with Jesus’ ministry of servant leadership.  It is thoroughly unpopular to serve or to be demoted to the point that preachers of the ‘prosperity gospel’ claim that their amassed wealth is due to God’s provision and a justification of doing God’s will.  The leadership that is clearly advocated in our reading suggests some wholly other way of viewing leadership, ministry, and service.  

Around your Table:

For some of us we share meals with a generation of people around the table as small children gather with parents and extended family.  Others will often eat alone, so this section of the letter is meant to be adaptable to your own setting.  We will try and focus our Sunday morning time around some of these questions as well. 

  • How do we experience God as servant? 
  • What might the world look like if our governments took the view that service was the highest form of duty?  Would we observe any change? 
  • Jesus often leads his disciples by example.  In what way do we, as a church, lead by example?  Where are we in service with, and for, others? 
  • What example of service might you have to share?
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Celtic Brief #3

Welcome

This post is an opportunity in which we as a whole community can participate in our monthly Celtic worship and experience the way each theme works in our church, in our homes, and in our lives.   This coming Sunday at 11:30 AM on 16 December 2018, in our usually place of worship, we have before us a portion of the biblical text in which to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest. This outline will help us all think a bit more deeply about how God is calling us in a formation of a vision for the Anglican Church in Freiburg.  Remember, it is a journey!  The structure that is outlined here is one where we get a brief picture of the reading, followed by some core idea that highlights the passage.  I, Christopher, will offer a few of my own thoughts in regard to the passage and our community, and leave you with some questions that might be a starting off point for discussions around your home tables after Sunday worship as you enjoy a day of rest and re-creation.  

In essence:

Our reading will be taken from Luke 3. 7-18  which is the gospel reading assigned by the Lectionary used by the Church of England for the 3rd Sunday in Advent. With some strong words, John speaks to the crowds who have ventured out into the wilderness.  Some seeking baptism, perhaps others have come just for the spectacle. There is a call to repentance; a turning away from the things that ruin our relationships with God and each other. There is also a question about John’s position, is he the expected Messiah?  John makes clear that he is not worthy to untie the sandals of the One to come.  I encourage you to read the full passage to familiarize yourself with the reading prior to Sunday morning. 

The central ideas:

You might enjoy reading the passage several times, slowly and thoughtfully.  There will surely be words and/or phrases that seem important to you. This style of contemplative reading is often referred to as Lecio Divina, or Holy Reading. Baptism, a change in lifestyle, and perhaps some rather harsh words may be what comes to the foreground during your  own devotional reading.  While we often prefer to be comforted by God, John is an excellent example of the prophetic calling us to places that may be uncomfortable, or unfamiliar.  

Some brief thoughts:

As the temperature has begun to dip below freezing this December, the thoughts of baptism in water seem far from our minds.  Baptism recalls themes of renewal, washing, death and rebirth, amongst many others.  Imagine having to break the thin layer of ice before plunging into baptism.  Heart stopping, invigorating or so risky that we would put it off for later? 

I would like you to notice as well, the number of times the phrase “what should we do?” appears.  As we will be discussing our theme, Empowering Leadership, it is advantageous that we have this gospel reading placed before us on Sunday.  We have a baptismal ministry — we are called into leadership. 

Around your Table:

For some of us we share meals with a generation of people around the table as small children gather with parents and extended family.  Others will often eat alone, so this section of the letter is meant to be adaptable to your own setting.

  • When someone comes to you and asks, “What shall we do?” what has been your initial reaction? How would you describe your leadership style?
  • Some say leaders are born.  Others say that leadership can be learned.  Where do you stand on the issue of leadership?
  • In what situations have you been comforted by leaders? Where have you been challenged by leaders?
  • Where do you feel God has called you into leadership through your baptism? 
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service of Nine Lessons and Carols 2018

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Celtic Brief #2

Welcome

This post is a new opportunity in which we as a whole community can participate in our monthly Celtic worship and experience the way each theme works in our church, in our homes, and in our lives.   This coming Sunday at 11:30 AM on 18 November 2018, in our usually place of worship, we have before us a tiny portion of the biblical text in which to read. This outline will help us all think a bit more deeply about how God is calling us in a formation of a vision for the Anglican Church in Freiburg.  Remember, it is a journey!  The structure that is outlined here is one where we get a brief picture of the reading, followed by some core idea that highlights the passage.  I, Christopher, will offer a few of my own thoughts in regard to the passage and our community, and leave you with some questions that might be a starting off point for discussions around your home tables after Sunday worship as you enjoy a day of rest and re-creation.  

In essence:

Our reading will be taken from 1 Peter 4. 10-11 which says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” The reading is purposely short so that we can meditate on it.   As I have written in the last Celtic briefing letter, the entire book is so short that you would benefit from reading all five chapters.  So go ahead and give it a read. 

The central ideas:

You might enjoy reading the passage several times, slowly and thoughtfully.  There will surely be words and/or phrases that seem important to you.  Receiving a gift, and using our gifts not for ourselves, but in service to others are just one aspect of what God calls to mind for us in this short passage.  Certainly we have a common mentality, ‘what will I get out of it’ that is strongly reinforced in our context. Many vibrant volunteer organizations now have trouble surviving despite the valuable work, because people want to have something for their efforts.  Volunteering now seems to come with a price tag. The letter appears to speak to Gentiles who may have been part of rural churches in Asia Minor either as slaves or aliens in the land.  There are certainly themes and warnings around suffering as Christians due to being different from the vastly pagan culture which surrounded them. 

Some brief thoughts:

We will have this particular Sunday following closely on the heels of a large community activity, the Latin American/African event.  Again, we are a community with a large diversity, but a unity in Christ.  As we celebrate the distinctive traditions of various people and nations, we must remember our unity in Christ as being a great gift.  Like the passage of study reminds us, we receive all our gifts from God, and it is not for us to capitalize on, nor to hoard our gifts away in selfishness.  The text on Sunday offers a summary of spiritual gifts falling into two large groups — those based on how we speak, and those based on service. The passage reminds us to be conscious of our patterns of speech, and to be intentional in our service. In doing so, it is all for the praise of God.  These is a different understanding to what we may have experienced in the world. 

Around your Table

For some of us we share meals with a generation of people around the table as small children gather with parents and extended family.  Others will often eat alone, so this section of the letter is meant to be adaptable to your own setting.

  • Do you say things you sometimes wish you hadn’t? How would your speaking and interactions change if when speaking, we did “as one who speaks the very words of God”?
  • In what ways do you think you could serve? In the service that you already may take part in, do you feel that in it, God is praised? 
  • The passage ends with a short doxology of praise.  Offer to God, in your own words, a few words of praise.  
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Celtic Brief #2

Welcome

This post is a new opportunity in which we as a whole community can participate in our monthly Celtic worship and experience the way each theme works in our church, in our homes, and in our lives.   This coming Sunday at 11:30 AM on 18 November 2018, in our usually place of worship, we have before us a tiny portion of the biblical text in which to read. This outline will help us all think a bit more deeply about how God is calling us in a formation of a vision for the Anglican Church in Freiburg.  Remember, it is a journey!  The structure that is outlined here is one where we get a brief picture of the reading, followed by some core idea that highlights the passage.  I, Christopher, will offer a few of my own thoughts in regard to the passage and our community, and leave you with some questions that might be a starting off point for discussions around your home tables after Sunday worship as you enjoy a day of rest and re-creation.  

In essence:

Our reading will be taken from 1 Peter 4. 10-11 which says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” The reading is purposely short so that we can meditate on it.   As I have written in the last Celtic briefing letter, the entire book is so short that you would benefit from reading all five chapters.  So go ahead and give it a read. 

The central ideas:

You might enjoy reading the passage several times, slowly and thoughtfully.  There will surely be words and/or phrases that seem important to you.  Receiving a gift, and using our gifts not for ourselves, but in service to others are just one aspect of what God calls to mind for us in this short passage.  Certainly we have a common mentality, ‘what will I get out of it’ that is strongly reinforced in our context. Many vibrant volunteer organizations now have trouble surviving despite the valuable work, because people want to have something for their efforts.  Volunteering now seems to come with a price tag. The letter appears to speak to Gentiles who may have been part of rural churches in Asia Minor either as slaves or aliens in the land.  There are certainly themes and warnings around suffering as Christians due to being different from the vastly pagan culture which surrounded them. 

Some brief thoughts:

We will have this particular Sunday following closely on the heels of a large community activity, the Latin American/African event.  Again, we are a community with a large diversity, but a unity in Christ.  As we celebrate the distinctive traditions of various people and nations, we must remember our unity in Christ as being a great gift.  Like the passage of study reminds us, we receive all our gifts from God, and it is not for us to capitalize on, nor to hoard our gifts away in selfishness.  The text on Sunday offers a summary of spiritual gifts falling into two large groups — those based on how we speak, and those based on service. The passage reminds us to be conscious of our patterns of speech, and to be intentional in our service. In doing so, it is all for the praise of God.  These is a different understanding to what we may have experienced in the world. 

Around your Table

For some of us we share meals with a generation of people around the table as small children gather with parents and extended family.  Others will often eat alone, so this section of the letter is meant to be adaptable to your own setting.

  • Do you say things you sometimes wish you hadn’t? How would your speaking and interactions change if when speaking, we did “as one who speaks the very words of God”?
  • In what ways do you think you could serve? In the service that you already may take part in, do you feel that in it, God is praised? 
  • The passage ends with a short doxology of praise.  Offer to God, in your own words, a few words of praise.  
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Celtic Conversation Starter

Welcome

This post is a new opportunity in which we as a whole community can participate in our monthly Celtic worship and experience the way each theme works in our church, in our homes, and in our lives.   This coming Sunday – 21 October, 2018, we have before us a tiny portion of the biblical text in which to read, but there is so much more to it than just one verse. This outline will help us all think a bit more deeply about how God is calling us in a formation of a vision for the Anglican Church in Freiburg.  Remember, it is a journey!  The structure that is outlined here is one where we get a brief picture of the reading, followed by some core idea that highlights the passage.  I, Christopher, will offer a few of my own thoughts in regard to the passage and our community, and leave you with some questions that might be a starting off point for discussions around your home tables after Sunday worship as you enjoy a day of rest and re-creation.  

In essence:

Our reading is taken from Ephesians 2. 10 which says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The reading is only one verse long so that we can meditate on it.  However, the author of Ephesians has much more to say on such themes as salvation, the mystery of the body of Christ, and ethical exhortations on living a life as a Christian.  Some of the most famous passages that many have committed to memory come from the book of Ephesians.  It takes little time to read the whole book which is only six chapters long.  Go ahead and give it a read. 

The central ideas:

Words and phrases that come to the foreground when reviewing this passage are: “created” and “good works”.  While not specifically a passage regarding spiritual gifts, it does make us think about where our spiritual gifts come from when we speak of being created.  Along with this is the idea of good works which many of us raised in society and churches which emphasized the Protestant Work Ethic along side Martin Luther’s priority of faith before works, makes this certainly a passage worth some reflection.  Some translations of the Bible offer slightly different interpretations to do good works, while others offer ‘to walk in’ good works.  The Greek word is more true to ‘to walk’ περιπατέω  peripateo To walk this way. Now before you start humming some old music tune from Aerosmith – to walk this way — let me offer some of my thoughts, and further questions. 

Some brief thoughts:

In the Anglican community we are blessed with a diverse group of people from different nationalities and different traditions.  We also know that we represent a wide diversity of ages and income levels.  Spiritual gifts, as God’s created people, are a gift from God, and the way those gifts are made evident can be through good works.  What Luther was opposing was not so much the good works, but the belief that our good works were the things of sole importance for our spiritual lives and relationship with God.  Grace, the gift of grace, destroys a merit based worship system.  The Protestant work ethic is a strong force which many have to contend with and it also gives us the sense that we are in charge of how our gifts are deployed and used.  When we look at the Greek understanding of ‘to walk in,’ it seems that God has a purpose, a plan, a path for our gifts to be used and we can find ourselves at odds with God’s spiritual gift which does not fit our preferences or our expectations.  

Being sensitive to our nature as created people, and aware of our giftedness, we have the assurance of God’s plan in our lives, and a path — a way — to follow. 

Around your Table

For some of us we share meals with a generation of people around the table as small children gather with parents and extended family.  Others will often eat alone.  As our path of life changes and our life circumstances also change, how do you see God providing the right gifts at the right times?  

Do you find the languages of good works makes you pause and think? 

Shortly following our verse there is a section of the epistle (2. 11-22) which deals with unity in Christ.  As created beings, how do we experience this unity when we have many different gifts? 

What makes you who you are? What do you think about doing good works, or walking in a way of good works?

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