Saturday, July 31, 2010

St. David's News and Notes, July 31. 2010

This week's email is a bit late. So if it's not useful as preparation for tomorrow's worship, I trust the following introduction and review of Bible Study method will be helpful every day as we "read, mark, learn and inwardly digest" the Holy Scriptures (BCP, p. 236)

As introduction or, for many of you, a reminder, of stable approach to reading the Bible, please watch a short, six-minute, You Tube video on inductive Bible Study.

This short video introduces the three steps of Observation, Interpretation (or Meaning), and Application. These three steps are what I use as my basic method each time I approach the Bible, whether in sermon preparation each week, or in my devotional readings each morning at prayer.

Following the Bible Overview by Matthias Media, I tend to summarize the steps as: Context, Observation, Meaning, Application.

Context: What in the Bible am I reading: a psalm, a story (narrative), a letter (epistle)?

Focus on the words on the page asking: Who, What, Where, When, How and Why?

Meaning (or interpretation):
What do these words in their context communicate? What does this mean?

In light of what the Bible says, what do I do?

This method can be a little cumbersome to learn. But I've found that once it becomes a habit of your basic approach to Bible study, then Bible study becomes much more enjoyable and practical.

The Sunday readings are:
Ecclesiastes 1:12-14; 2:1-7, 11, 18-23
Psalm 49:1-11
Colossians 3:5-17
Luke 12:13-21


This Wednesday our Bible study following the 6pm Mass will cover the NT book of Philemon (a short, one-page letter from St. Paul). We will use this short letter to discuss and practice the Bible study method discussed above.


Fr Greg+

Friday, July 23, 2010

St. David's News & Notes, July 23, 2010

In reading Ecclesiastes for the study that we're doing at St. David's right now, I ran across this passage.

"Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing; it benefits those who see the light of day. For wisdom provides protection, just as money provides protection. But the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves the life of its owner" (Eccl. 7:11-12, NET).

The obvious, and striking, question that I immediately asked myself was: Since wisdom and money are both useful, but wisdom is more advantageous, do I give more of my attention to money or to wisdom?

Please notice that I'm not saying (and the Bible is not saying) that money is bad. It's only saying that wisdom is more useful than money for preserving the life of it's owner.

Practically speaking, I probably spend more time each month accounting for and making plans with and about money than with and about wisdom. Much of that accounting and planning is good and necessary. The challenge that I felt was this: Will I at least consider matching the time and effort I give to gaining and accounting for money with the time and effort I give to gaining and accounting for wisdom?

And an immediate follow-up to this question is, What would this look like?

In the letter of James we read, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him" (James 1:5, ESV).  So we can get something, wisdom, that is more useful than money when it comes to preserving the life of its owner, and all we have to do is ask God. All we have to do is pray in humility (i.e. recognizing that we lack wisdom, which means we can't be proud). And we must pray in faith.

Praying in faith simply means trusting that God is generous and wise; it means trusting that he will give us the wisdom we ask for and that he has the wisdom to give us. As James continues, "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways" (James 1:6-7, ESV).

We Christians have something better than a money tree. We have a wisdom fountain. As we prayed last Sunday, "Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen" (Book of Common Prayer p. 231, emphasis added).

This Sunday the sermon will focus on prayer, which is our access to the wisdom fountain. My prayer, as I prepare for Sunday, is that we will assemble for worship confident in our access to something more useful than money, God's wisdom. I also pray that we will intend to practice a realistic, daily plan to collect and live on his wisdom, as surely as we collect and live on the money that he allows us to use for a season. Money is temporary. God's wisdom is eternal. And our loving heavenly Father is the giver of both. What a great God we serve.

The lessons for this week are:
Genesis 18:20-33
Psalm 138
Colossians 2:6-15
Luke 11:1-13

Our Wednesday evening Bible study following the 6pm Mass will conclude our reading of Ecclesiastes, covering chapters 10-12.  Also, our St. Augustine's Prayer Books are in. We are suggesting a donation of $15 per copy.

Blessings to you all,

Fr Greg+

Friday, July 16, 2010

St. David's News & Notes, July 16, 2010

Blessings to you all this very summery Friday.

Since it's too hot to go outside, why not stay inside a read? May I recommend this short article by Dallas Willard called, Why Bother with Discipleship?

I'll also take the time here to remind us all of the the basic ideas and questions behind the Sunday sermons right now. These will continue to frame my teaching and preaching for the next several weeks in a focused way. I appreciate your patience and interest as we continue this series. And I hope you will find this teaching as helpful as I have in my life.

As we come to the subject of sermons (why have them?), and the Bible (why read it?) and Church (what is it? and why go?), we might ask this fundamental question.

Who is your teacher? And what does your teacher teach? All of us have a teacher, maybe several of them. And we'd better make sure our teachers our good ones.

Well, quite obviously, I'll say that Jesus is the best one there is. There is another short, helpful article by Dallas Willard titled, Who is Your Teacher? that may help you see my point (well, Dr. Willard's point). I've found this article very helpful in presenting a sound view of Jesus, and revealing how much I value (or undervalue) Jesus' authority as a teacher of real life in the real world.

The next four questions are also from Dr. Willard. I've found them in teaching and his books, particularly Knowing Christ Today, from which they are taken.

These are all questions that we answer each day, usually subconsciously. Bringing to our conscious mind these questions and our answers to them helps us reflect on them and, if necessary, make needed corrections.

Question 1: What is real? What is reality? The answer is of Jesus is: Reality is God and his kingdom. And the kingdom is, in the simplest terms, where God is active, where what God wants done is done.

Question 2: Who is well-off, or blessed? The answer of Jesus is: Anyone who is alive in the Kingdom of God, that is, anyone who is interactively engaged with God and with the various dynamic dimensions of his reigning. Such engagement with God is an eternal living, an eternal life (cf. John 17:3).

Question 3: Who is truly a good person? A really good person, as Jesus teaches, is anyone who is pervaded with love: love for God who first loved us and who in his Son taught us what love is (1 John 4:9-11).

Question 4: How do you become a really good person? You place your confidence in Jesus Christ and become his student in kingdom living. In other words, you learn from him how to live in the kingdom of God as he himself did.

I'll keep unpacking these questions and showing how our lessons in Luke specifically address them (1) because Jesus is a good teacher and (2) so is St. Luke who wrote an authoritative record of of Jesus' life and teachings so that we can "have certainty regarding the things [we] have been taught" (Luke 1:4).

The readings for this coming Sunday are:
Genesis 18:1-14
Psalm 15
Colossians 1:21-29
Luke 10:38-42

Our Wednesday evening Bible study following the 6pm Mass will cover Ecclesiastes chapters 7-9.  Also, our St. Augustine's Prayer Books are in. We are suggesting a donation of $15 per copy.

Blessings to you all,

Fr Greg+

Saturday, July 10, 2010

St. David's News and Notes, July 10, 2010

Blessings to you this fine week of . . . well . . . "the season after Pentecost" as the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) says, or "the 6th week after Trinity" as the 1928 Prayer Book says, or "14th week of Ordinary Time" as the Roman Catholic liturgy says.

I always get a kick out of the phrase "Ordinary Time." It sounds so plain. But then, if you put in a blender and mix it up with our traditional Anglican language, "After Trinity," and our revised 1979 BCP language, "after Pentecost," then the word "Ordinary" doesn't seem quite so . . . ordinary.

Our participation in the love of the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit is what is revealed by the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The revelation of God as Trinity is what we celebrate the following week on Trinity Sunday.  This means that at Pentecost, we're caught up in that fellowship of love who we call the Trinity, who is the One God from whom all creation flows. So if life in that love is "ordinary" (which it is for all baptized) then our Christian definition of "ordinary" is quite extraordinary.

In other words, we are loved beyond our understanding of the concept of love. And that speaks not of the smallness of our minds, but of the greatness of our God.

I want to tell you all that this Sunday we will pray together a portion of what may be my favorite Psalm, and is certainly the most influential Psalm for me, Psalm 25. I began to engage Christianity in my early 20's, not because my parents told me so (which they did and that was a good thing), but because I believed it just might be true (which is a better thing). I found Psalm 25:3-4 and wrote the verses on a note card, taped them to the dashboard of my car, and memorized them. "Make me to know your ways, O Lord; Teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me; for you are the God of my salvation. For you I wait all the day."

I have to say now that I had no idea what I was getting into. But God's ways and His paths are the best thing that I have ever committed to, or ever will, or ever could.

So I hope you don't mind if I repeat myself.

I am loved. And, my friends, you are loved. More than our capacity to know what we're getting into. So, by all means, let's get into it. Get into the love of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

To help us grow in the grace, knowledge, and love of God, the readings for this week are:
Deuteronomy 30:9-14
Psalm 25
Colossians 1:1-14
Luke 10:25-37


St. David's - Our Wednesday evening Bible study following the 6pm Mass will cover Ecclesiastes chapters 1-3 and 4-6 if we can get to them. We had a great discussion this week, which only scratched the surface of the beginning of the book. Read what you can of chapter 1-6 of Ecclesiastes and come and join the fun. Also, our St. Augustine's Prayer Books are in. We are suggesting a donation of $15 per copy.

Blessings to you all,

Fr Greg+

Thursday, July 1, 2010

St. David's News & Notes, July 1, 2010

Our series in Luke continues this week with the calling of the seventy-two (ESV) or seventy (RSV) disciples.

Which was it and why do different versions have different numbers?

For much more information
here is a teaching video on the subject of the transmission of the Bible.

Here's is a short summary of the issue from the
ESV Study Bible with my additions in brackets (and emphasis added):
"Should the presence of textual variants [i.e. seventy, or seventy-two disciples in Luke 10:1], then, undermine the confidence of ordinary laypersons [and their ordinary priests] as they read the Bible in their own language? No—actually, the opposite is the case. The abundance of variants is the result of the very large number of remaining New Testament manuscripts, which itself gives a stronger, not weaker, foundation for knowing what the original manuscripts said.

"In addition, modern Bible translation teams have not kept the location of major variants a secret but have indicated the ones they think to be most important in the footnotes of all “essentially literal” modern English translations [such as the RSV, NASB, & ESV], so that laypersons who read these footnotes can see where these variants are and what they say. The absence of any such footnote (which is the case with far more than 99 percent of the words in the English New Testament) indicates that these translation teams have a high degree of confidence that the words in their English translation accurately represent the words of the New Testament as they were originally written.

What Is at Stake?

"The most significant textual variants certainly alter the meaning of various verses. And where the meaning of verses is changed, paragraphs and even larger units of thought are also affected to some degree. At times, a particular doctrine may not, after all, be affirmed in a given passage, depending on the textual variant. But this is not the same thing as saying that such a doctrine is denied. Just because a particular verse may not affirm a cherished doctrine does not mean that that doctrine cannot be found in the New Testament. In the final analysis, no cardinal doctrine, no essential truth, is affected by any viable variant in the surviving New Testament manuscripts. For example, the deity of Christ, his resurrection, his virginal conception, justification by faith, and the Trinity are not put in jeopardy because of any textual variation. Confidence can therefore be placed in the providence of God in preserving the Scriptures.

"In sum, although scholars may not be certain of the New Testament wording in a number of verses, for the vast majority of the words in the New Testament the modern English translations accurately represent what the original authors wrote, and therefore these translations can be trusted as reproducing the very words of God."

The Scriptures that we will hear together on Sunday are:
Isaiah 66:10-16
Psalm 66
Galatians 6:1-18

Luke 10:1-20

Our Wednesday evening Bible study following the 6pm Mass will cover Ecclesiastes chapters 1-3.

A few final reminders: Please keep each other in your prayers as we travel and enjoy our summers. Please be faithful in your regular Sunday worship when you are in town (and even on the road, if possible). And please make the effort to stay faithful in your giving, especially over the summer months.

Blessings to you all,

Fr Greg+