You are cordially invited to Holy Trinity’s second annual Resurrection Ball. This year the Ball is back and has brought a friend along. The friend’s name is “Living the Trinity,” a Saturday conference with Pastor Doug Jones of Moscow, Idaho fame whose most recent exploits center around Scribblative Agincourting and Sabbath House. This year’s Ball is also a benefit for Piedmont Women’s Center, Greenville’s ministry to the unborn and crisis pregnancies. Come out and support this important work.
Archives For Holy Trinity
Next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the season of Lent. As is our custom, we will be having an Ash Wednesday service Wednesday evening at 7pm at the church building. Please plan to come out for a service of prayers and psalms and meditation as we begin the season of Lent together as a community.
As we begin our celebration of Lent, it would be helpful to outline what it is we are doing and equally important to state what we are NOT doing. Recovering traditions and the rich heritage in the Christian Church is truly a great gift, but we must also recognize that our fathers in the faith have stumbled in various places. Our job is to study and recover the riches and leave behind any of the dross. We also need to recognize what our particular temptations are likely to be as we do so. Surely some of you are completely new to the whole idea of celebrating any seasons of the church calendar, much less Lent.
As with other seasons of the church year, we utilize these times throughout the year to learn from the Scriptures and the wisdom of our fathers in the faith. In particular, we direct our prayers and devotions in a concentrated way toward the spiritual warfare that we are called to wage at all times. Lent is the forty days (not counting Sundays) which lead up to Holy Saturday, the day before Resurrection Sunday. During these weeks, we look back to the repeated themes of trial, testing, and sanctification found in the forty days and forty years motifs throughout Scripture. Ultimately, we look to the faithfulness of Jesus under temptation, we look back to his willingness to suffer for us and for our salvation, and we consider his resolution to accomplish the calling that his Father had put before him.
But Lent should not be thought of as a time to wallow in sins or doubt one’s salvation. Some traditions of the Christian Church have tended toward this, but that is not our intention. Rather, it is an opportunity to be reminded that we have been called to battle, summonsed to take up our crosses and follow our risen Savior as faithful disciples. We do not pretend that Jesus has not risen from the dead, nor do we pretend that we are lost or on the verge of being overwhelmed by sin and death. On the contrary, this season points us to the reality of the cross and resurrection as the only firm reason for believing that we are more than conquerors, that death has been swallowed up in victory, and that we endure all our struggles, battles, and trials for the joy that is set before us. We face the various “wilderness” experiences of our lives fully confident of victory, salvation, and the Promised Land. In this sense, Lent should be celebrated much like Advent. It is a season of preparation and expectation. It is of course fully fitting to add prayers, fasting, and other elements to your celebration of this season as a family. But your celebration should be just that, a celebration, a remembrance of forgiven sin, salvation accomplished, the glorious hope that is ours in Christ, and a renewed committment to follow in the steps of our King. And remember that every Sunday, every Lord’s Day, continues to be a miniature Easter, and if anything, your Sabbath tables should only be more glorious, more joyful, and more festive like a slowly growing roar ready to errupt on Resurrrection Sunday.
As we take upon ourselves the ash of Ash Wednesday and remember that we are ‘but dust and it is to dust that we will return’, we do so with joy and expectation, eagerly awaiting the resurrection of our bodies and the renewal of the entire world. And far from making this life irrelevant, this gives our day to day duties and activies deep and abiding meaning. Your life now, your children, your spouse, your hobbies, and all that you do and say is part of the world that God is remaking and redeeming. We serve the God who constantly spreads a table for us, even in the presence of our enemies, constantly reminding us and assuring us that He rejoices over us as his people and promises to be God for us. And truly, if God is for us, who can be against us?
The Christian Almanac records that June 29 is remembered by the Church as the day the apostle Paul was beheaded with a sword in the city of Rome. Some place his execution as early as 62 A.D. and others as late as 67 A.D. Nevertheless, from the earliest times in the Church, this day has been celebrated as a feast day in honor of both Paul and Peter, who tradition also remembers as being executed in the city of Rome. For many centuries, boys born on June 29 were given the name Peter or Paul, and more often than not, both names! In many ways Peter and Paul are remembered and honored as symbolizing the foundational figures of the Christian Church after Christ. Peter is remembered for his great confession of faith declaring that Jesus was the Son of God. He is also honored as a prominent leader in the early Church in Jerusalem and later in Rome. Paul, an apostle born out of due time, as he describes himself, is honored as the greatest early missionary. His ministry to the gentiles of the first century laid the foundation for an early church that would grow and fill the entire Roman Empire. Paul’s pastoral efforts also gave us a significant portion of the New Testament found in the many letters he authored to the first Christians and which are still a major source of encouragment and instruction for the Christian Church today.
I would encourage you to remember these two giants of the faith, two saints and martyrs who followed Jesus their master with such faithfulness and courage. Hebrews 12 says that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, and it is a great comfort and encouragement that among that great cloud stand Peter and Paul, fathers and brothers in the faith, who now stand directly before God offering their prayers and praise. May God give us grace to follow in their steps, and may we honor them as mighty warriors of God.
The lessons for this Sunday will be Exodus 13:1-22, Galatians 3:23-4:7, and Luke 8:26-39.
This Sunday is the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost.
The Christian Almanac records that on June 22, 431 A.D. the Third Ecumenical Council began in the city of Ephesus, on the west coast of modern day Turkey. This council was called to deal with yet another controversy related to the nature of Christ. One of the central debated points was whether or not Mary, the mother of Jesus, might be rightly called “Theotokos,” that is, the “God-bearer.” The term was not meant to imply that the second person of the Trinity originated with Mary, but rather, it asserted that Mary truly bore in her womb God in the flesh. It insisted that from the moment of conception, the person of Jesus was both fully God and fully man. Nestorius and his followers taught, on the other hand, that the person of Jesus was merely human until a certain point when God came to dwell within him in a unique way. Cyril of Alexandria, following in the footsteps of Athanasius the Great, contended for the orthodox faith by insisting that the person who was born of Mary, lived a perfect life, died on a Roman cross, and rose again on the third day was really and truly God in the flesh, the second person of the Trinity incarnate. Jesus was not merely an inspired or God-filled man; he was God as a man. He was Emmanual, God with us.
We often look back on these controversies and wonder why they matter that much. We get confused with all the foreign sounding names and dates and places. But we must recognize that these great events mark God’s faithfulness to His people, the Church, preserving for us the gospel of grace. If Jesus the man was anything less than God himself, then how can we be sure that God is really for us? How can we know that we have really been reconciled to God? Thanks be to God for faithful men like Cyril of Alexandria who clung to the Scriptures and refused to compromise with those who preferred reason and logic and philosophy to what the Word of God clearly taught. May God give us the faith to do the same.
Our lessons for this Sunday will be from Ex. 12:21-51, Gal. 2:15-21, 3:10-14, and Lk. 7:36-50.
The Christian Almanac records that on May 4th, 1873, Father Damien, a Flemish missionary, joined the lepers of Molokai Island in the Hawaiian archipelago. The courageous minister sought to transform the little colony of outcasts and the horrible conditions of the settlement known as Kalaupapa which was surrounded by high walls to contain those infected with what today is known as Hansen’s Disease. Where disorder and chaos had reigned, Father Damien brought a measure of order, discipline, and beauty to the suffering community. He served not only as their pastor, but as their physician, lawyer, and friend. Eventually Father Damien contracted the disease himself and after 16 years of ministry, he died. In 1995, the church set aside May 10 as an annual memorial feast day in honor of Father Damien’s sacrificial ministry and service to the lepers of Hawaii.
While this sort of ministry may seem extreme and even fool-hearty, it is really nothing short of what we are called to. Jesus clearly says that if any man wants to save his life, he must lose it, and if anyone wants to follow Jesus, he must take up his cross and follow Him. Who are the hurting, the outcast, and the needy in your life? May God grant us the grace to follow Father Damien, even as he followed Jesus.
Our lessons for this Sunday will be from Exodus 8, Acts 13, and John 13.
Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked — But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors. (Is. 53)
We went down to Charleston Tuesday and Wednesday this week. We visited Folly Beach Tuesday afternoon, stayed the night in the tent at St. James’ Island State Park, and spent Wednesday exploring the historic city of Charleston.
Interestingly, the Palmetto Tree is the state tree of South Carolina. SC is the “Palmetto State.” The Palm Tree is prevelant down near the coast (I’ve only seen a couple up here in Greenville). The story goes that some general during the early days of Carolina settlement defended the shores of Charleston with a battery built out of Palmetto trunks. Apparently, they work so well that during one battle canon balls were actually deflected off the trunks of these hearty trees, the canon balls were promptly retrieved and faithfully shot back at the enemy. It’s all history after that I suppose.
I suggested in the sermon on Sunday that at least one layer of meaning in the waving and strewing of palm branches during the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was the Feast of Booths where Israelites built make-shift tents out of big leafy branches and palms. The Feast was meant to recall the wilderness wanderings, reminding Israel of how God had preserved them between the deliverance from Egypt and their entry into the Promised Land. Palm Sunday seems like a fitting corollary to that Feast where Christ as the son of David enters to destroy and rebuild the temple in his own body; he comes to rebuild the tabernacle, the booth of David in his own death and resurrection. Palm Trees are of course famous for their residence at every desert oasis picture you’ve ever seen. A Palmetto Tree reminds us of the garden while we are still in the wilderness.
Palm Sunday reminds us in the midst of treachery, in the midst of the trials of life, in the midst of the Passion of life of where we are going, the Promised Land ahead of us, the Promised Land even brought forward in time (to use NT Wright’s phrase) to us here and now.
As we remember and celebrate our Lord’s death this Good Friday, I want to remind you to RSVP for the Resurrection Ball next Saturday, April 14th. If you have already done so, I salute you and thank you.
To wet your appetites and spur you on to love and good works, let me tell you that we are excited to be having Kathy and the Leftovers as our live music for the evening. This Old Time band consists of a fiddle, old time banjo, guitar, banjo uke, and bass. Kathy and the Leftovers won first place in the UpCountry Folklife Festival back in 2003 and their fiddler won first place in the fiddle contest at the same festival.
Furthermore, we have Mr. Blake Saunders hailing from Bristol, Virginia down to call our dances for the evening. For those of you wondering how Trinitarian Christians “boogy down,” this courageous man will be calling such dances as the Grand March, the Virginia Reel, the Gay Gordon, the Pat-i-cake Polka, and the Fairfield Fancy, with a waltz or two thrown in for good measure. We plan to do a few of the dances twice so that you can have the satisfaction of enjoying a dance and not just learning the steps.
Did we mention the Hors d’oeuvres, Psalm singing, hearty homebrewed beer, and sweets to keep your spirits light? Bring your children, your parents, your siblings and friends, this event is for the whole family of the Triune God.
There is limited space. So please get your name down on the list so that we can plan accordingly. Sign up. You know it’s the right thing to do.
This ain’t about chicks and bunnies.
This ain’t about springtime.
This ain’t no phoenix myth.
This is about the world made new
when the Lord Jesus walked out of a grave
2,000 years ago.
Thus we must party.
Thus we must dance and boogy down.
Black tie invited, Jane Austen attire–even better.
$15 for individuals,
$25 for couples and families
Live music, Hors d’oeuvres, Psalm singing, brewed libations, and copious amounts of peeps.
Bring your children, bring your parents, bring your friends: This is an event for the whole family of the Triune God.
When: 6pm April 14, 2007
Where: The Davenport
230 Trade Street
The Christian Almanac records that on March 21st, 1685 Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenarch, Thuringia (modern day Germany). Bach was a master composer who is remembered for his artistic brilliance as well as his diligent labor. After the 45 years it took to compile and organize the fruit of Bach’s labors, his musical compositions filled some sixy volumes, all work done while filling the occupations of organist, conductor, musical director of church services, and teaching lessons to boys. Throughout his life, Bach received no widespread fame or fortune. He faced the struggles of the death of his first wife, death of children, difficult financial circumstances, not to mention various conflicts with church officials and eventual blindness. Nevertheless, Bach’s prodigous productivity proves a life of faithfulness and diligence. When asked about his work, he replied, “I worked hard.” And from his labor came some of the best-crafted and most lovely music in music history. “The Saint Matthew Passion,” “Mass in B-minor,” “The Brandenburg Concertos,” and hundreds of other pieces were written and crafted throughout his life. But it would be some 80 years after the master artisan’s death before his music would gain renown, influence, and fame proving Bach’s conviction that honest work is blessed simply by being done before the Lord and for his glory. And thus he always noted at the end of every composition, “Soli Deo Gloria,” To God alone belongs all the glory.
May God give us diligence in our labors and bless us as we work before him and for his glory.
The sermon text for this Sunday will be Exodus 5, and our other lessons will be from Phil. 3:8-14 and Luke 20:9-19.