Day 17: Short Post

Hey all. 

I started a post this morning, but I haven’t finished editing it. And based on past experience I was unhappy with my less than stellarly edited posts. They missed fully conveying what I wanted to say. Simply put, they weren’t clear enough. 

I’m pretty exhausted because I worked Saturday and then Sunday was busy because we were short a person for the Altar Guild. 

So I’m going to bed early. Stay orthodox my friends.  

Soli Deo Gloria

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Day 16: It’s All His

It’s Sunday morning. My church recently asked me to take over one of the support teams for the Sunday services: the Altar Guild. We make sure there’s bread, wine and juice for each service. We bake our own bread and have both a chalice and communion cups. We have around 800 to 1000 people between the two morning services, so it’s a few people to prep and clean as well as maintain the elements. It definitely uses my administrative gifts along with a little strategic thinking.  

We have a priest visiting who is in town to drop his daughter off at Wheaton College. He’s part of a small mission in Portland, Maine. It’s in the very heart of the most unchurched area in the United States. I had a chance to chat because he was using our spare vestments to get ready for the service. I think he used the word small at least twice to describe their mission/church plant. 

I then shared that we had not always been the size we are now. I wasn’t here for the growth to our current size, but I’ve heard the stories: we left the Episcopal Church because of their unfaithfulness to the faith once deposited. We wandered over the years. Some discord occurred, some infighting within leadership, another split. Then reconciliation, the building bridges between the faithful to God gifting us with the enormous former plastics factory for a building. 

I hope I encouraged him with a quick reference to Gideon. “But the Lord said to Gideon: “The people are yet too many.”

Our growth is the Lord’s. Our current numerical strength is the Lord’s. Our faithfulness is the Lord’s. The healings that occur here are the Lord’s. 

It’s. All. The. Lord’s. 

Soli Deo Gloria 

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Day 15: A Short One With An iTunes University Recommendation

I worked today to supervise overtime for my office. 

I recently downloaded some more lectures from iTunes University. I’ve listened to Ancient and modern church history.  A course on Ethics, on apologetics and almost done with the theology one. 

The theology one is a little tougher to listen to and do less strenuous brain activities at work. 

This one on Christ Centered Preaching from Dr. Tim Keller and Dr. Edmond Clowny is truly fantastic. 

So, I’m really enjoying it. Really, really, really liking it. So go check it out. Oh and Tim Keller likes to listen to an Anglican Priest in England. Our tribe rocks. 

Soli Deo Gloria 

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Day 14: A Pastoral Letter on Charlottesville 

I’m going to give way to a much better letter than I could have written  

From my Bishop:

To the people of God in the Upper Midwest Diocese.
18 August 2017
Beloved Family of God in the Upper Midwest Diocese:
Thank you for your prayers and support as my family took time for vacation (in the forests and lakes of Minnesota and Wisconsin) and study focus in July and early August. The Provincial Assembly was even stronger than I had hoped, but it was also even busier than I had anticipated, so I was thankful for family time and rest.
As is my usual discipline, I was offline as much as possible, so I did not learn of the Charlottesville tragedy until my return to Church of the Resurrection last Sunday morning. I am so thankful for our Archbishop’s pastoral letter that stated—unequivocally—that “racism is contrary to the Gospel and has no place in the Church.” It is right and good that any violence be denounced, and especially the violence of white supremacy. But we must go beyond right and holy denouncements to renewed determination.
I had the opportunity to meet with Pastor Michael Wright to hear how he and his people at True Freedom (an African-American church in Oak Park, IL that is in an intentional ministry partnership with our diocese) are processing Charlottesville. The first thing that Pastor Michael spoke of was revival—the great need for revival. May this be our determination as a diocese in light of not only Charlottesville, but also of the evils of racial injustice, violence, and the activity of the Kingdom of Darkness throughout our country. Jesus has given our diocese a mission: to plant a Revival of Word and Sacrament Infused by the Holy Spirit. This mission is the way forward as we seek to minister the fullness of the Gospel into every aspect of our culture. And let me be clear: that is precisely what we are seeking to do.
Toward that end, I want to invite those of us in Chicagoland to be a part of a ministry initiated by Pastor Michael and Canon William Beasley: they are calling our diocese to form multiple teams of about five people each to visit different African-American churches throughout the West Side of Chicago. The purpose of these visits will be to build friendship and Gospel communion with one another. This is the vision, as Pastor Michael and Canon William call it, of “walking across the street.”


Pastor Michael Wright praying at Provincial Assembly 2017.

Everyone is invited to join us on Saturday, September 16 for joint worship and an orientation for this new ministry opportunity. We will gather at the Greenhouse Mission Center in Oak Park, IL. More details will be forthcoming, and they will be sent out diocese-wide so that all can be praying. (If you already know that you want to be a part of one of these teams or have questions, please contact our cathedral Mission Director, Kaitlyn Wallett, at kaitlyn@churchrez.org.)
Other leaders in other regions of the diocese may be inspired to lead a similar ministry. Praise God, and please be in touch with Canon William if this is the case.
I am also thrilled to announce that Pastor Michael will be joining us at Church of the Resurrection to preach the Word of God on Sunday, October 1. There will be an opportunity to hear more from him in an afternoon seminar about his vision for deeper partnership between our diocese and African-American churches on the West Side. Audio recordings of both events will be distributed as well.
Please ensure that prayers are offered on Sunday in Prayers of the People for the people of Charlottesville, for the pushing back of the scourge of racism in our country, and for the work of revival in our diocese. And please make this a personal commitment as well. I also understand that many will not be able to attend the September 16 meeting, but will want to make a difference. For ideas on how you can respond, please listen to Pastor Matt Woodley’s recent sermon here.

 
Much love,


Bishop Stewart Ruch III
on behalf of the Deans of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest

Fr. Christian Ruch

Fr. Eirik Olsen

Canon and Missioner General William Beasley

All photos by Jill Fager, JM Photography.
Copyright © 2017 Diocese of the Upper Midwest, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Diocese of the Upper Midwest

935 W. Union Ave.Wheaton, IL 60187

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Day 13: The Wedding Anniversary Edition 

Today I’m taking a day off of work. Twenty five years ago today my wife and I were in a lawyer’s office in downtown Guatemala City signing the legal documents that would make us married, legally speaking, in Guatemala. In Guatemala the only people able to marry people are lawyers, not priests, pastors or anyone else. Most people have the legal ceremony the week before the Church wedding, because that’s just how they do it.

So we did that and then submitted her visa request to the US Embassy and I went back to my duty station and waited for things to process. In late October we were married in the Episcopal Cathedral in Guatemala City in a bilingual ceremony. The place was full and I had only my parents and sister in attendance from my side of the family.

Twenty Five Years Later

I was all of 22 and my wife was 19. So, we’ve grown up together in many ways. Our faith has grown together. We are raising a son and a daughter. Our son is the now the age when we married. We have tried, very imperfectly, over the years to raise them with the idea they are not ours ultimately, but God’s. We have had our share of major and minor catastrophes. We’ve lived in Hawaii, Upstate New York, Guatemala City, Atlacomulco in Mexico, and now here in the suburbs of Chicago. We’ve moved 12 times. We’ve attended 8 different churches. Officially members of only three.

Together we’ve learned each others language and each others country’s ways of doing things. We’ve learned each others strengths and weaknesses. We know what foods the other likes. Lots and lots of little and big things. A whole life together: we have both been now married longer than we were unmarried.
Ephesians 5:22-33:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Some Thoughts 

Somehow marriage is a picture of Christ and His Church. What a mystery. A profound mystery Paul says. And I have to say after 25 years of it, indeed it is. How does a marriage work: a lot of work, tears, prayers, sleepless nights, passion filled nights, disagreements and making up. It’s finding all the ugly things in ourselves. It’s finding something greater by the combination of our talents.  It’s Love in action: Christ in us. What a divine mystery. What glorious union. How? Only God knows. 

Soli Deo Gloria 

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Day 12: True Peace

The concept of posting a blog every day for 30 days is proving very difficult. My post yesterday really needed to be edited more. I may have wedded a couple of themes into one. 

So, I’m thinking I should write and think on the more serious ones and hold them until they are ready and then keep doing regular posts on simpler issues.

Some Reflection 

The events of the past few days in Charlottesville are illuminating. Like shining a light into the dark corner of a garage, we are finding some things we wanted. 

And other things we wish hadn’t seen:

  • We have white supremacist marching around with tiki torches and inciting violence. 
  • A feckless media who seem only too happy to pour gasoline on this fire and fan to flame more passion. 
  • Certain counter protesters inciting violence as well. 
  • A president who hems and haws about clearly condemning white nationalism and white supremacy. 

I’m sorry, but these tiki torch guys needed meme posts of them with bunny ears and pigs noses and the like, you know the snapchat filter stuff. I’m thinking in how to handle them strategically. They needed to be derided and made fun of, instead Antifa showed up and provoked them. Bullies like these white supremacists need to be starved of oxygen (a point I’ve made about Trump in the past) and be treated as the small minority they are. Their social media footprint appears to outweigh their numerical size. They should be called the white tweetbot supremacists. 
Then we have the morally repugnant man-child who used his car as a weapon to murder and maim. This is the temper tantrum of a boy who never became a man. A passion induced frenzy: a pounding on the floor and screaming like toddler, “This is mmmyyyyyy country!!!!”. 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT: Let Us Be Self-Controlled 

Let us react like grown ups. Punishment is both right and necessary for the man-child. We as Christians should pray for his tortured and twisted soul. And those involved carry tiki torches. And for the souls of those who think mob violence is the proper response to the white supremacists. 

Let us be champions of peace, not capitulation, but True Peace. The peace of Christ. Let us preach and proclaim the Good News: the debt of Sin has been paid, come and find Reconciliation in Christ. 

Soli Deo Gloria 

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Day 11: We still have a dream

The Big Picture 

These words are still revolutionary and instructive to us now:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. ” 

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Let’s make it personal 

Said another way: Judge No One by the color of their skin. Judge them by what they do and say, not some external facet beyond their control: place of birth, into a rich or poor family, orphaned or not, ethnic background, religious background, southerner or northerner, westerner or easterner, hue of skin or birth defect, male or female or chromosomal defect, lack of limbs or whole, physically attractive or plain looking, short or tall, large frame or small frame, native language, etc. 

There’s something that many Americans have trouble with, and I say this as someone who has lived outside the country about 15 years ago for a period of six years. I worked and traveled in Central and South America working for a Hong Kong based textile machinery company. Additionally my wife is not an American, which she reminds me of from time to time. So here’s the concept: many Americans have been taught (overtly or by implication) to assume only whites can be racist or prejudiced.  I can bear witness to the fact that this is not true. Indigenous peoples all over the America’s are looked down upon. They are domestic help that are treated poorly and paid even worse. Many Spanish speaking countries use a whole list of pejoratives when speaking about blacks. Certain countries are extremely ethnically proud in a way that makes a lot of flag waving Americans look tepid. The Arab owners of textile factories had open disdain for the local workers. The rich oppressed the poor and the poor stole and abused other poor people who were weaker than they. 

Break the chains 

In my post yesterday I simply posted the two biggest set of verses that I thought were most relevant to race and other external differences. I wrote a the very list above for a reason: there are many subtle factors that work into our brains and souls and hearts over the years. We sin against others and they sin against us. These wounds build up and then resentment sets in. 

Psychologists refer to this as “baggage”. 

And that baggage needs to be dropped at the foot of the Cross of Christ. The perfect Son of God hung on a tree for all our sins. He came to his own people and they rejected Him. He suffered the greatest injustice. He was whipped and scourged for our transgressions. 

WE ARE ALL SINNERS. 

WE HAVE ALL SINNED AND FALLEN SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD. 

So leave the baggage. The King has forgiven us. We must forgive. See others as GOD sees them: made in the image of the Most Holy GOD. 

Soli Deo Gloria 

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Day 10: Say No To All Forms of Racism, Sexism, Ethnicism, Elitism, etc. 

Galatians 3:27-28

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 

Collossians 3

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Soli Deo Gloria 

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Day 9: Procatechesis

I suppose everybody is writing about the events in Charlottesville. I’m not going to.

About a month ago my mentor gave me a copy of Lectures on the Christian Sacraments by St. Cyril of Jerusalem. It is not particularly long by modern standards, but it’s exceedingly dense in it’s presentation. I’m guessing the church fathers had less space to make their point and got there sooner, unlike your truly here.

They were written around the time the Roman Empire stopped persecuting Christians. So, then more people started showing up on the church’s doorstep looking to become Christians. So, the obvious question: are they really converts or just looking to join the club because it’s safe now?

In a country like ours, that doesn’t persecute Christians, that’s an ongoing issue. St. Cyril took the task head on. The first one in the series is The Procatechesis: for teaching/instruction.  He immediately starts with the calling of God. God calls, He initiates. God is extravagant in his treatment of us. You are standing on the threshold, fully receive the Grace of God being bestowed on you. But, don’t imagine that you can force your way in, you must have been invited. You must be fully converted. You may have come with bad intentions, or for the wrong reasons. And yet God will avail himself of the opportunity. However, realize the seriousness of what you have entered into. Stop perpetually sinning, turn from your old ways. Receive the teachings of the church. Understand that testing will come: embrace it for your eternal good. So understand that you need to be taught so you will survive the testing. Be built up in Christ. A word of warning: the spiritual teachings you will receive are worse than useless to you if you are unrepentant in your sins, it is in fact bad medicine for the unsaved. Join in the fellowship of the church, she is your mother, join with her sons and daughters. Learn sexual purity and continue in it. Allow all these things to impact you, to transform your way of thinking. Allow the light of Christ to permeate you and radiant out from you. The Faith given to you must be guarded. However, ultimately it is God who saves, so let your soul rest in Him.

Read it here, it’s only 17 paragraphs.

Soli Deo Gloria

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Day 8: On Pastor Ken Hall

Pastor Ken Hall

In my blog a couple of days ago I made mention of a Pastor Ken Hall. Ken was the interim pastor at a small independent formerly “bible baptist” church where my brother and I were both on the board. If you know the Midwest you’ll know what I’m about to describe: a formerly full and active church has slowly watched members die off and not be able to attract any new members, the building is getting old and it’s now surrounded by a completely different demographic and it can barely sustain itself but refuses to sell the land and start over. 

Ken took the time over several months to meet with us and teach us the fundamentals of grace.  That experience has kept my brother and I motivated in discipling others. I’ve run a Facebook community page and this blog for a number of years as my way of doing that. My brother was more involved in a new church after we both moved on from the small church so he has been more able to actually disciple people. 

I met with Ken a few more times a few years later when I was struggling as a supervisor. His wise counsel was very helpful. He asked probing questions, kept me thinking. Where had I given ground to Satan? Where did I need to seek forgiveness? Where did I need to give it? 

“Do the next right thing”, he would say. He went to be with Jesus in 2013. That time spent talking about the formative issues of the faith have stuck with me. They’ve impacted the books I read and my perspective on Church and it’s functions. It all drove me deeper into following Jesus, of chasing Him at times. Only to find out I was the one being pursued. 

As I consider going to seminary, this formative experience along with others similar to it has me thinking. What gifts has God given me? What experiences has He given me that point to His purpose with my life? What discipline do I feel led to study? Where do I see God calling me in ministry? 

I’m strongly leaning towards Nashotah House, because Anglo-Catholic seems to be my “tribe” as it were. This probably would not have surprised Ken, he knew how high Church I leaned. 

I would be honored if you would please pray for me as I consider these things. 

Soli Deo Gloria 

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