Tag Archives: forgiveness

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 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 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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ACNA Provincial Assembly 2017

The recent provincial assembly was a time well spent. My wife wasn’t that thrilled that I was spending all day at the event, but she appreciated some of the information I brought home. I would say the most impactful thing I encountered was the couple who are using their garage as a church. They deliberately moved to a low income neighborhood. They went intentionally knowing the lack of resources available to those who live there. It initially started as Sunday bible time with the smaller kids in the neighborhood who were making friends with their children. The husband is an ordained priest, but works bivocationally.Slowly a few other adults came, but it is still principally centered around the children. The other active adults were explaining how they’ve seen the kids start to mimic the words of the prayers and sacraments. Slowly, bit by bit the wisdom of scripture is filtering into their lives. Less hostility between siblings, slowly less one upsmanship between friends. I couldn’t help but think of Moses exhortation to the Hebrews after the giving of the law.:

Dueteronomy 11:19

“You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

The second big impression was the minute details of the life of the church. There are lots of people working in lots of places doing what God has put them there for. Big and small. Mostly small by our modern era’s standard. And there is a big lesson for us. As culturally soaked American Christian’s, smallness is not what we were brought up on. The usual trope is “Go big or go home”. [as a side note, I’ve tried to pick up the habit of “pray big or go home”]
I hadn’t thought about it until writing this. Assurance. We think of the word in connection with our final “saved” state, that Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us. But there is also the assurance of a final Judgement. Where all things hidden will be revealed. This who did evil in the dark will have it brought into the light. But those who labored for righteousness in the dark and cold places of this planet are assured of a revelation themselves. That no labor done for the Lord, no matter how trivial, menial or obscure by the eyes and judgements of this world will be kept from God’s eyes and from all the saints. There are names we know from history, apostles and early church fathers and the patriarchs and the prophets and the martyrs. But there are untold more from pre-Christ to the church era who are lost to us. But NOT to GOD. 

When I think of modern obscurity I nearly always think of North Korea. We know next to nothing of the people there. They must feel so isolated and so alone. Can you imagine coming to Christ and not having a church body to meet with regularly? That faith is a faith truly bathed in grace. So when I’m praying the psalms in my morning devotion, the words of David “protect me from my enemies” I think of them. 

Those saints, those humble beggars: we Americans will walk them to the front of line and take our place in the back. 

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Between Two Criminals 

Last Sunday our church had a dramatic reading of Luke’s account of the trial and crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ (see scripture below). 

Maybe I’m a bit dull, but I never saw the simple choice that is presented in that recounting of the death of our Lord. Jesus, the God-man without stain or blemish, is raised on a cross between two criminals meeting their just end. 

One hurls insults and derision on Yeshua, (Jesus’s name in Hebrew.) He mocks him, in the same manner that the religious elite do, “save yourself”. Jesus is essentially mocked for claiming to be the person that He is. The Truth is mocked for claiming to be Truth. 

The other sees his own sin. He makes no excuses, no rationalizing of his actions. He sees his own inability to save himself. He sees the stark Truth, that Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ, is being killed unjustly. And he asks Jesus to remember him, to look with pity upon him. 

So the choice stands before us all. Will we acknowledge our sin, our crimes against a Holy and Righteous GOD or hurl insults at the Chosen One of God? There is none righteous, no not one. 

God have mercy on us. 

________________________

Luke 23: 32-43 (ESV) 
Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.  And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.  And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!”  The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine  and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”  There was also an inscription over him,“This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”  But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”  And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

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