Thursday February 28 2013
Yesterday was a marathon day for us at the Cathedral.
Ongoing events at the Parish Center,a 7:30 a.m Eucharist at the Cathedral,followed by Morning Coffee,afternoon Bible Study,evening prayer,choir practice,and a Baptism preparation.
We cannot prevent the passage of time; in the same way that time must pass, Lent too unfolds as it must. This season will soon be behind us.
We sincerely hope that Lent is having some influence on the lives of our people; that through the expending of focus,energy and activity at St. Martin's we might reach the hearts of God's beloved people.
For us, the idea of Church and Family is synonymous. We know that they are not exactly the same in structure and purpose,but at the core of highest value,we are family. Love,Unity and a shared faith.
All are welcome;and we thank God unconditionally for the moments we can share in the busyness of life today.
May the ongoing life of our parish be blessed today!
Here are the address notes for you:
God does not want us to stay where we are now, in terms of our Christian Maturity. The first Chapter of Ecclesiastes describes someone who has looked at life, and has come up with an honest appraisal of the way things really are.
It is implied that the wise and anointed King Solomon wrote this book....
The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” 3 What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south and turns to the north;
round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.
7 All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from, there they return again.
8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.
9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
- Real life involves coming face to face with our own humanness mortality and pain.
- Real life is filled with hurting people.
- Real life is filled with people who have been wounded often to a point where there is little chance that they can ever believe anything good will ever happen in this life.
- Christians believe however, that Real Life can be filled with the Grace, and purpose of God...
So why is it that so many believers and non believers alike struggle so much with God?
Tonight I would like to invite you to consider what we call the stages of faith. As always, our prayer is that The Holy Spirit will use broken words to bring life to you...
Lets begin with 1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
There are many people who have written about different stages of faith.
Some writers and thinkers see the movement through life and faith as a process...that looks something like this:
1.Self Centered... Child Like, a Comfortable, and literal faith .
2.Institutional and Cultural: Taking Comfort in the Church They become attached to the forms of their religion and get extremely upset when their institutions and boundaries are called into question.
3.Skeptical and Reflective A stage when people honestly wonder and start seriously questioning things on their own. This either helps people to mature in faith,or move onward into "Deeper Waters"
For Example: A couple of days ago I received a note from a friend telling me they weren't much of a believer anymore.
In my day to day conversations quite often people express their questions and doubts. Such honesty reveals a true and longing heart sometimes.
I am often asked to share "What do you really think of Heaven? "
A lot of the time, this reflective stage ends up with being very non-religious or agnostic . and some of these people leave or stay connected to the Church.
4. Open, experienced and Still hopeful and faithful.... Understanding Just how big, mysterious and precious God is. Able to make a commitment of resources to a real relationship. ....Able to let go of the things of earth.
I prefer Bernard's less clinical view of the stages of faith.
Bernard of Clairvaux is remembered for his compelling spiritual writings and his theological insights. Born in France in 1090, he became a Cistercian monk
Here are some basic thoughts around St.Bernard`s writings about Love:
The first degree of love: Loving oneself for self’s sake. Bernard would say that that the Love planted within us by our creator, should embrace God first, But our nature is so frail and weak that we will have to love ourselves first.
This selfishness can only be challenged when we practice self denial for the good of others.
When our selfish love grows truly social, for whatever motivation, and includes our neighbors in its circle. The possibility of transformation is present.
You cannot love your neighbor in God unless you love God himself.
So see that we can begin to love God through our selfish love for ourselves, when we have learned that in God we can accomplish anything and without God we can do nothing.
The Second degree of Love: Loving God for self’s sake.
We start by loving God, not for his own sake but ours. BUT
"When times of trouble cause us to turn to God for help, even a heart as hard as iron, as cold as marble, would be softened by the goodness of our Saviours response, so that we love God not altogether selfishly, but also simply because he is God."
If frequent troubles drive us to frequent prayer, surely we will taste and see how gracious the Lord is [Ps. 34.8] ,even if the Love is still borne out of selfishness.
The Third Degree Of Love : Loving God for God’s sake.
When our lives realize how good God is, we find ourselves drawn to love him unselfishly, and find that it is truly our desire to give all to Him.
Once this is recognized it will not be hard to fulfill the commandment to love our neighbors, for anyone who truly loves God loves all God’s creatures.
- Such love is pure, and finds no burden in the command that tells us to purify our souls, examine ourselves ,and be transformed.
- Such love is a love born out of Thanksgiving.
- Such Love is pure, because it is shown not in word nor tongue, but in deed and truth. [1 John 3.18]
- Wishes to love others the same way.
- No longer pursues his own desires but Christ’s, even as Jesus did not pursue not his own welfare, but ours .
- The third degree of love, then, is to love God simply because He is God.
The fourth degree of love: Loving Self for God’s sake.
This can be hard to articulate, but if you can accept the truth that God really does love you, then you must see the value that you have for Him.
We often misread the teaching of the New Testament to be constantly putting down the Old Man ("Person") , and think that the Baptismal covenant is about putting to death who we are to be transformed by Christ. Not so!
When Jesus says deny yourself and follow me, he’s talking about the false self, the self we have created ,treasure and protect .
That's the one that destroys us and prevents God's purpose from becoming a reality.......
The Value God Places on us:
Matthew 10:29 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows
May the Lord help us to truly Love, even to love ourselves as has ordained.
May our Growth and Love reveal His amazing grace in the most profound way to the world we live in.