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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday 2015

We cancelled our Ash Wednesday service this year (2015) for several reasons. For those who want to have an Ash Wednesday devotion at home, here is some of what we were going to do tonight. I hope you find it helpful.  In Christ, Robert

Here is a video which captures the whole of the service; we were going to view it (5 min.) at the end as we prepared to leave.



Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church
ASH WEDNESDAY SERVICE

February 18, 2015

    Tonight’s service will be mostly silence, scripture, and prayer.  Use this time to shut off phones, turn away from text messages, lay aside schedules and work and projects.  Try to slow down and enter quietly into the presence of God in order to consider “Who am I?” “Who is God?”
    Tonight’s service is a service of penitence.  It is about coming before God in all our frailty, weakness, and sinfulness; it is about humbly asking, “Lord, have mercy.”  Prepare your hearts and prepare your minds, for God is here.


Call to Worship    Isaiah 6:1-7

1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”

God’s Word to Us    Who is God?    Job 42:1-6
1 Then Job answered the Lord and said, 2 “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. 3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ “Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” 4 ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ 5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; 6 Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.”
Prayer of Recognition - finish these sentences from Job 42 in your own words as you pray.
  • I have heard of you, but now I see you…
  • Therefore I retract and I repent…
God’s Word to Us    Who is Jesus?    Hebrews 5:5-10
5 Neither did Christ presume to set himself up as high priest, but was set apart by the One who said to him, “You’re my Son; today I celebrate you!” 6 In another place God declares, “You’re a priest forever in the royal order of Melchizedek.” 7 While he lived on earth, anticipating death, Jesus cried out in pain and wept in sorrow as he offered up priestly prayers to God. Because he honored God, God answered him. 8 Though he was God’s Son, he learned trusting-obedience by what he suffered, just as we do. 9 Then, having arrived at the full stature of his maturity and having been announced by God as high priest in the order of Melchizedek, 10 he became the source of eternal salvation to all who believingly obey him.  (The Message)
Prayer of Identification - pray and ponder quietly as you identify with Jesus
  • Cried out in pain and wept in sorrow…
  • What he suffered…
  • Jesus’ trusting-obedience…
  • My disobedience…
-------------CONFESSION AND REPENTANCE-------------

God’s Word to Us    Who am I?    Ps. 24:3-5; Romans 3:23
    Psalm 24:3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive a blessing from the Lord And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
    Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
Prayer of Confession (read together)
Most merciful God, to whom all hearts are open, to whom all desires known, from whom no secrets are hid, we confess and acknowledge our wickedness:  we have robbed You of Your glory; we have not loved you with our whole being; and we have worshiped idols made with our own hands.  Against you have we sinned.  (Silent reflection)

We confess that we have not loved our neighbors; we have not served them; we have hidden the truth of your grace from them in our deeds, we have clung to things that bring us good, rather than sacrificing for our neighbor’s good.  (Silent reflection)

Father, for the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, forgive us and renew us.  Strengthen our love and desire for you in these coming days, turn our hearts to You that we may delight in Your ways.  Amen

-------------IMPOSITION OF ASHES-------------
Scripture    A Sign of our Penitence    Genesis 3:19
19 By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”
Imposition of Ashes
Please come forward down the center aisle as you are ready.  Pastor Robert will put the sign of the cross on your forehead using a mixture of palm ashes and water.  Spend the time before, during, and after in prayer and personal confession to God.  Return not to your seat of solitude, but to the first few rows that Pastor Robert will indicate.

---------THE GOOD NEWS OF GOD’S GRACE IN JESUS CHRIST---------

Scripture    One Like Us Who Saves Us   
Hebrews 4:14-16
    14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Psalm 113:5-7
    5 Who is like the Lord our God, Who is enthroned on high, 6 Who humbles Himself to behold The things that are in heaven and in the earth? 7 He raises the poor from the dust And lifts the needy from the ash heap…
Prayers of Thanks and Intercession (open)
Benediction


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Round-Up

2014 has been a full year. In my 12th year at Good Shepherd, we undertook a sanctuary and youth building renovation project; I was fortunate to be invited on a ministerial trip to Scotland; I tried to establish some new patterns of regular writing and recording (music); I continued to try to incorporate regular exercise into my life. Challenges included two beloved church staff leaving (and trying to cover their vacancies for most of the 4th quarter), the renovation campaign (did I mention that already?), and maintaining regular health and exercise...did I also mention that? :)

Some highlights of preaching, writing, travel, health, etc... follow:

Sermon Series: "It is Written"
I don't always preach in series, but when I do, I often enjoy the cumulative effect of building on a theme or digging deep into a topic. Early in the year, having read an article about some "Red-Letter Christians"* who found Jesus' teaching at odds with other scripture (whether Paul or the Old Testament), I did an extended series looking at a number of places where Jesus quoted the Hebrew scriptures and used them as the basis of his own teaching and ministry. It was a fascinating study for me and the congregation seemed to get a lot out of it as well. (*Note: this view does not describe all so-called "Red-Letter Christians"; some, like Tony Campolo, simply want to take Jesus seriously and use this designation to point to all the things Jesus did say... turns out, though, for the critics of the Old that those red letters also encompass pretty much the whole scope of the Old Testament being spoken out of Jesus' mouth.) That study led right into Acts for Pentecost, and I just stayed there all summer with the "Into the World" series (link).

Individual Sermons: three sermons stood out as "most downloaded" as well as most meaningful to me. They all were part of the series mentioned above (and really framed that whole series), but did more even than track the theme of Jesus' use of Hebrew/OT scripture. All coming from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, these represent much pulling together of my own thinking and real-life experience (in ministry and as a human being). The accompanying graphic (included here) captures much of it, but I commend these sermons to get a sense of what developed.
Also, see the short overview of all three (also with links) on my blog HERE.

  1. "The Space between Truth and Grace" (Matthew 5:17-26)
  2. "Fulfilling the Word: Vows" (Matthew 5:27-37)
  3. "Fulfilling the Word: Neighbors and Enemies" (Matthew 5:38-48)
Testimonies: this was a year of meaningful testimonies shared in and with the church; some are included below; I started to note "this is amazing!" next to them, but they are all amazing and really significant testimonies of God's goodness!
  • Mark Katibah (audio link, 5 min) - "How have you seen the goodness or greatness of God through our church? (shared on Nov 9 for "Church Matters, pt. 1"; page link)
  • Shannon Klar (audio link, 23 min) - "What does it look like to encounter God's goodness and greatness and be changed?" (shared on Nov 16 for "Church Matters, pt. 2"; page link)
  • Ray Ball (audio link, 7 min) - as part of our Christmas "Behold the Lamb of God" concert, I asked Ray to share part of his testimony to illustrate God's deliverance
  • Bentley Ball (audio link, 12 min) - as part of our Christmas "Behold the Lamb of God" concert, I asked Bentley to share part of her testimony to illustrate what it is like to wait on God (both the faith and the struggle)
Scotland Reflections (index): a ministerial trip to Scotland proved to be one highlight of the year, particularly as related to theological/personal/ministry reflection. The main part of my blogging this year was thoughtful reflection on my time in Scotland, particularly around themes of change, culture, and community.

Music: one of the goals/habits I cultivated in 2014 was trying to regularly write or record music; I called this "Sundays for Singing," trying to post something each Sunday. I certainly didn't generate a post weekly, but it did get the wheels turning again. Here are a few unpolished examples:
  • "Temple Song" - about Jesus overturning the tables in the Temple in John 2; first guitar-arrangement of this original piano song with my friend, Gerrit Dawson; please excuse the "Christmas jammies"
  • "Say Something" - a radio cover my daughter wanted to do; it was a blast just singing/playing with her!
  • "Friend of Sinners" - a worship song by Red Mountain Music to a text by Augustus Toplady; another highlight because my daughter played drums with me
Health/Fitness - Just a few benchmarks to mark where I am. Still running and walking regularly, though I've put some weight back on this year. (here are last year's data)
  • Jan-Dec: approx. +20 lbs :(  ...but still down 30 from pre-2013
  • 340 workouts in 253 hours
  • 204,000 total calories burned
  • 655 mi. running + 470 mi. walking = 1125 total miles
  • Longest Run: 13.1 mi. (in 2:24:21)
  • Fastest Runs: gonna beat these all in 2015!
    • 1mi: 7:54 min/mi - a slight uphill... 7:27 going the other direction... so prob should average those together :)
    • 5k: 9:38 min/mi (not sure why this is slower than the 5mi except that I only tried the 5k route a handful of times and have run the 5mi course a hundred or more times)
    • 5mi: 9:02 min/mi
    • 8mi: 10:47 min/mi
    • 10mi: 11:10 min/mi
    • 13.1mi: 11:00 min/mi

Monday, December 22, 2014

hiatus

Sorry for the hiatus! We've been without a music director or admin assistant since September and writing blog posts is one of the things that got squeezed out of my schedule.  :(

I hope to do an end-of-year round up and then be fully staffed sometime in January and back to posting! I'll be on the road teaching and leading in several retreats and conferences in January and hope to reflect on those.

In the meantime...

MINISTRY OPENING: We are looking for a Director of Music Ministries. Please take a moment to read this description of our very special and unique church and share the link with anyone you think might be a good fit. We are looking for the right person of faith to share our vision for worship and music - we'll work out all the other details! E-mail music.search@gspc.net with resumes or for more information.

Monday, September 15, 2014

::SCOTLAND ROUND-UP::

The trip to Scotland was not only enjoyable and wonderful in and of itself; it also occasioned significant reflection, as demonstrated in a number of blog posts. Here is an index of those posts.

Friday, September 12, 2014

family connections

It took going to Scotland to fully realize a vision back home.

A couple of years ago I I overheard a wistful conversation in the restroom between two older pastors. They were talking about the "old presbytery" and how everyone knew each other better. And not only each other, they also knew each other's families - spouses and children. I remember pondering at the time what that might look like in our large and spread out metro presbytery, and what effect those kind of relationships might have on the character and challenges of our particular group.

As I reflect on my 12 years in this presbytery, I think I have done a good job at seeking out and cultivating relationships with other pastors. But that takes intentionality (and reciprocity); getting to know each other's families is another order of relating altogether. So, while I had once imagined it, I had not experienced such a thing or its blessings.

And then I was invited on this Scotland Connection trip: 12 pastors, mostly from NC and the region. And we were encouraged to invite spouses, not only for the week-long conference, but to plan time before or after. While my spouse was not able to come, the great majority did come with husband or wife. One couple even rounded out their honeymoon with the time in Scotland!

What I did not anticipate (and if I had, I probably would have worked very hard to make it possible for my wife to come) was how meaningful it was to get to know my colleagues in the context of their family relationships. Over the course of the week, I think I had meaningful conversation with just about every person on the trip, and the glimpse you get into a person's faith and life in family relationship is so much richer and complete than the typical sighting across the presbytery meeting or committee table. Even those colleagues whom I know fairly well are known primarily in our role as fellow presbyter and pastor.

To interact with those same colleagues as husband, wife, father, or mother - was an unexpected treasure. Even those of us who came 'single' shared photos and stories of families and loved ones back home. To share in meals, travel, jokes, weather, and much more in the shared context of faith, ministry, and life was so wonderful. To share in one couple's 10th anniversary with a time of worship and prayer together was profoundly moving. To share deep stories of faith-formation and even rekindle old friendship was surprisingly poignant. All of it was, as one friend put it, sacred.

...which brings me full circle to the presbytery. At least 6-7 of the colleagues from the Scotland trip are in my presbytery. I know that whether we work on committees together, worship together, or debate one another - we will do so in the context of a shared experience and deeper relationship. I light up when I see them across the room. I want to hear how their families are doing. It seems to me that this is how it should be in the church, whether our local churches or the large connected gathering we call the presbytery.

I wonder if there are ways we can cultivate those kinds of experiences and relationships in the presbytery moving forward. I think it would significantly refocus our conversations, our ministry and mission, and our life together. That's a vision I plan to hold out and hope for!

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