For Sunday, August 24, Archbishop Foley Beach asked all Anglican Churches in ACNA to hold a special prayer service for the Christians suffering and dying in Syria and Iraq. I used this opportunity to change the readings to reflect the theme of suffering and persecution for the Lord. It was an emotional sermon, but preaching on Revelation 6:9-17 I was able to show how Jesus promised that, unfortunately, there will be those who lose their lives to follow him; but also that the time will come when their blood will be avenged by Jesus himself. While it can be hard to make sense of the persecution we see in the world, it should be a comfort to know that the Lamb will vindicate his fallen.
On Sunday, August 17, I preached on Matthew 15:21-28. The sermon was about the Canaanite woman who came to Jesus asking for her daughter to be delivered from demonic oppression. Jesus told her that it wasn’t right to give the childrens’ food to the dogs. She responded, “Yes, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Jesus affirmed her for her great faith, delivered her daughter, and showed that there are no dogs in his eyes.
On August 3, 2014 I preached on Matthew 14:13-21 which is the feeding of the 5,000. The sermon was not focused on the miracle, but on the motive for Jesus’ ministry to the masses that day- his own compassion.
On July 27, 2014 I preached on Romans 8:31-39, concluding three weeks of preaching through Romans 8. This sermon focused on Paul’s clear teaching that if God is for us, no one can be against us or bring any charge against us; and that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. These are two important points for us to understand.
I have been a part of the Anglican Church since I was in ninth grade. Even though I wasn’t formally “received” as an Anglican until around ten years later, I considered myself Anglican from pretty shortly after I started attending. I come from a Roman Catholic background, but my conversion to Anglicanism had less to do with what I was leaving than with what I was joining. I never felt any animosity or discomfort with the Roman Church. In fact, I pretty much held on to my Roman theology all the way until I got to seminary. No, I never felt like I was leaving something. I felt like I was joining something.
For many people, that something of Anglicanism is hard to define. People join the Anglican Church for all sorts of reasons. I think those reasons, diverse as they might be, come down to this: for us, the Anglican Church feels like family. It can be a messy and difficult family, but it is a family that we recognize. When I get together with my own family, we don’t all believe the exact same things the exact same ways. We don’t all want the exact same things. We have disagreements and disputes. But we always love each other. My family isn’t, and never has been dysfunctional. We are just a typical family.
That is what you see in Anglicanism, and it is explained very well in The Anglican Way by Thomas McKenzie. You have evangelicals and catholics. You have charismatics and orthodox. You have activists and contemplatives. You have conservatives and liberals. Each thing properly understood, and when not taken to an extreme, has a home within the Anglican Church. It is like a family. We can disagree with some of what others are doing, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t family. This doesn’t mean that there are no limits or boundaries. As we have seen and experienced with the Episcopal Church, one can get to an extreme that puts them outside of traditional Anglicanism and historic Christianity. But just because there are extremes that must be avoided, it doesn’t nullify the real diversity within the body.
Some families are dysfunctional, sadly. There may be destructive people within the family who tear it apart. Some families require everyone to be a certain way, believe a certain thing, or behave in a certain manner. Many denominations are this way. Of course, I don’t mean to suggest that any denomination (or non-denomination as the case may be) is dysfunctional if it doesn’t look like Anglicanism. But the metaphor works. In most denominations and churches there are much tighter boundaries. This is what it means to be Catholic, Presbyterian, Southern Baptist, etc. It can be hard to have that natural family feel if you exist within a body that expects everyone to be exactly alike in many ways. If you are Pentecostal and you don’t speak in tongues, you are out of the family. If you are an Orthodox Presbyterian and you do speak in tongues, you are out of the family. These are somewhat vulgar over-simplifications, but you get the point.
To the Anglican, both things are acceptable. I am not simply saying that it is ok that some do and some don’t speak in tongues. I am taking it even further than that. It is acceptable to believe in speaking in tongues as a Christian trait, and it is ok to believe that speaking in tongues and such gifts ceased at the end of the first century. It isn’t that both groups are right. Instead, this is about what it means to be Anglican. It means to not look for boundaries to divide us from one another, but to look for that which unites us as a family, even in our disagreement. For us, we recognize that if we are all adopted as sons and daughters of God, then we are family. Families fight. Families disagree. Families don’t always believe all the same things. Those things don’t make the family dysfunctional. They make them real families.
The Anglican Church is a real family. There are those even within New Life who hold vastly disparate, yet equally Christian views. There are those who speak in tongues, those that don’t, and those that think tongue speaking doesn’t exist. There are those that believe in women’s ordination and those that don’t. There are those that believe in predestination and election and those that are committed to their own free will. There are those who hold a high view of the sacraments and those that don’t care if they ever come to the Lord’s Table. All of these are present within New Life. In many ways, New Life is a microcosm of the Anglican Church as a whole.
In so many churches, so many people of disparate views could hardly exist alongside one another. In the Anglican Church, it is assumed that such diversity exists. It is what makes us Anglican. It is what makes us family. It is that kind of a family that I knew I was joining about 22 years ago, that I found so attractive. And it is that kind of a family which allows each of its members to grow and flourish in Christ.
Last Sunday I preached on Romans 8:18-30, which is the second in a three part series on Romans 8, and part of a larger study through at least Romans 8 and 9 that we will be doing. This message focused on how God’s promises to his people continue to get better and better (a theme begun in the first sermon on Romans 8), showing how God will give us a redeemed creation and redeemed bodies, and how he has also given us the Holy Spirit to intercede in prayer for us because we don’t know how to pray for the things we need to pray for. Because it is the Spirit (who is God) praying for us, we know that his prayers will be answered because he prays God’s perfect will for us.
From here, Paul revisits suffering by assuring us that Christian suffering is not purposeless. It is used to conform us to the image of Christ that we can be his brothers and sisters. Then Paul launches into the goodness of God’s plan that he sets aside some for himself and sees his plan through from predestination to glorification. Since it is God’s work to fulfill his plan on our behalf, we can trust that his plan is unfailing and our salvation is secure.
Here is the link:
This past Sunday I preached on Romans 8:9-17. This is the first of a series of sermons on Romans 8 and 9. I see Romans 8 as a testimony of good things that just keep getting better as Paul goes further and further into the chapter. If we are in the Spirit, we belong to Christ. If we have the Spirit, we have been raised from the dead. If we have the Spirit, we are children of God. We are not just children in a generic sense, but we are adopted. We are brought into God’s perfectly loving family. We are more than just adopted; we are made heirs with Christ.
The passage ends here, but there is even more good news coming as we learn in the future about the security of our salvation. Here is the link:
On June 15, Jon Saunders, head of Spartan Christian Fellowship, preached at New Life and preached on the baptism of Jesus in Matthew 3. He sought to explain what it means that Jesus’ baptism was to fulfill all righteousness. Jon gave a good message and it is well worth the listen.
On July 6, Fr. Richard Dalton preached for me while I was on vacation. He was entertaining and convicting and I believe that you will enjoy his message.
Here are links to the sermon audio for June 1, Ascension Sunday; June 8, Pentecost; and June 29, third Sunday after Pentecost. Unfortunately, the sermon didn’t record for Trinity Sunday, so that one isn’t available.
Ascension- Here I talked about the importance of the ascensions alongside the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection as one of the inseparably central aspects of Christ’s work.
Pentecost- Here I talked about the importance of Pentecost and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the Church as an actual event in history.
Third Sunday after Pentecost- Here I talk about Isaiah 2, the problem with idolatry, and our need to decide between trusting in God or man.
I know it has been a while since I have linked audio sermons here, but I felt that this sermon (and the one I will link in the next post) is worth posting and worth listening to. It is an explanation of the structure and flow of the Anglican Eucharistic worship service that I gave because we have a group of about 30 non-Anglicans joining us for the summer and I want them to understand what is happening in the service.
The reason I haven’t been able to post the sermons is because there is a problem with uploading audio that I can’t solve. So instead, I am providing a link to the church website that when you click the link, the sermon will play on that page.