The Three Streams Church

Posted by ajenkins on May 15, 2013 under Uncategorized | Read the First Comment

A number of years ago at Saint James our hearts were captured by a Biblical vision of the Church. It is called a Three Streams, One River vision.

Three Streams…is derived from Psalm 46:4: There is a river whose streams make glad the city (people) of God…” I pointed out that “glad” can be translated  “whole.” God has provided these streams to bring His people into wholeness — a reality that Ezekiel saw when he noticed that, growing beside the river of the water of life, were trees whose leaves were for the healing of the nations.  Ezekiel 47:12
One observes that three great streams have flowed throughout the history of the Christian Church. (We can also find evidence of them in the Old Testament.) The apostle John identifies these three streams in his first letter. In 1John 5:8, he says There are three witnesses — the Spirit, the water, and the blood — and these three agree.

Some of us come from “the Spirit,” or Pentecostal stream. Others identify more with the “water,” with its emphasis on the washing of the Word and personal cleansing. This is the Protestant — the biblical and evangelical — stream.

Others of us come from the “blood” or Catholic stream, with its emphasis on the sacramental. The differences and even struggles which may arise between us often reflect our inability to understand another “stream,” where we feel less at home.

John says that, though these three witnesses are distinct, they are in complete agreement! What do they agree about? They are unanimous about the person of Jesus Christ: who He is, why He came, and what He has done for us. Those witnesses agree because, together, they create a brilliant composite picture of Christ. None of them can manage that completely on their own.

So the three streams agree on the substance of our faith: the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet though their witness is in perfect agreement, there is a dynamic tension between them.

The three streams – Catholic, Protestant, and Pentecostal – have always been present in the Christian Church. They are complementary, intended by God to flow together. Tragically, they are usually separated. Churches which major in a specific stream typically reject – and often criticize – the others.
What, then, will a “three streams, one river” church look like?
Here is a brief summary of the distinct approaches adopted by each stream in just six areas:

Standards of Orthodoxy
A “three streams” church won’t separate faith from works. It will be passionate about calling people to a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ through repentance and faith. But it will not be tempted to see that as an end. The goal is also to call people into a life of obedience to Jesus by sacrificial service “to the least of these my brothers.” Our vision statement captures that truth. We are called to “Proclaim God’s Grace in Jesus Christ.”

Music and Worship
All the great kinds of music which Paul mentions in Ephesians 5:19-psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs-will be welcomed and balanced in a “three streams” church. Each has its own unique place: “psalms” – liturgical music to enhance the liturgy; hymns, which express the grandeur and majesty of God and which are rich in doctrine and biblical imagery; and “spiritual songs” – music which arises spontaneously out of, and gives expression to, what God is saying and doing to His Church now. Spiritual songs usually have a relatively brief shelf-life. They feel dated after a few years. At our Sunday celebration – a “three streams” service – we employ all three genres.

Authority
Our Anglican model of authority is hierarchical. Clergy have spiritual authority over their congregations. Bishops have spiritual authority over clergy. A “three-streams” church receives and respects that authority. But it will expect those in authority to recognize the spiritual giftedness of the congregation, and to call all its members to the work of ministry. A “three streams” congregation knows the utter futility of engaging in ministry without the empowering of the Holy Spirit. It will pray for its leaders to be freshly and powerfully anointed, so that their leadership will manifest the presence and power of Christ.

Structure
The Catholic preference for top-down, centralized structures speaks of the need for spiritual oversight, and submission to the authority God has placed over the church.
The Protestant preference for bottom-up (lay-initiated and -led),  diversified (shared power) structures insists that the congregation be trusted  with real responsibility, and be given a sense of ownership for the life and mission of the church.
The Pentecostal preference for spontaneity speaks of a burning desire for life – and a recognition that structures in themselves cannot bear fruit.
These three, apparently incompatible, approaches are mutually consistent. Each needs the others. The first, by itself, leads to authoritarianism; the second to anarchy; and the third to chaos.  We will hold these three structure preferences in cohesion with our Team based organization.  This method of organizing, administering, and encouraging our shared ministry recognizes the episcopal authority of the bishop imputed to the Rector, while relying on the ministry of all believers in ministry team participation and discerning and employing the Spiritual gifts of the congregation.

Theological Emphasis
The Charismatic Renewal succeeded in bringing back the forgotten Holy Spirit into the Church. “Three streams” churches will make generous room for the Holy Spirit. They will welcome the manifestation of all the spiritual gifts. They will emphasize intuitive ways of knowing Truth, not restricting these to the rational and cognitive.
But they will never divorce the Spirit from the  Word-preferring manifestations of the Spirit to disciplined Bible study and biblical preaching (in fact, the Word should judge manifestations); or creating false dichotomies between spontaneity and freedom on the one hand, and program and structure on the other. Neither will they divorce the Spirit and the Word from the Father, who creates order by keeping Word and Spirit in dynamic tension.

Key Aspect of Christ’s Salvation
A “three streams” church will receive and love Jesus Christ as the scriptures reveal him to us through his incarnation, sacrificial death, triumphant resurrection, and glorious ascension; through the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost; and through His promised return. It will never prefer His divinity over His humanity, or His miracles over His command to love and serve others.

Recovering the True Meaning of Repentance

Posted by ajenkins on May 1, 2013 under Anglican Events, Devotionals, Good News, Reformation, Repentance, Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

By: The Rt. Rev. C. FitzSimons Allison
This past Advent my wife asked what I was going to preach about on the coming Sunday.
“Repentance,” I replied. “Oh gosh!” she replied wearily, “I wish you’d preach on something cheerful.” One can easily understand why repentance is not considered a joyful subject! The dictionary defines ‘repent’ as “self-reproach for what one has done or failed to do,” “conduct as to change one’s mind regarding it,” or “to feel remorse.” The brilliant novelist E. M. Forster claimed that, “of all means to regeneration, Remorse is surely the most wasteful. It cuts away healthy tissue with the poisoned. It is a knife that probes far deeper than the evil” (Howard’s End, Ch. 41). One could expect such a negative view of remorse from Forster’s known failure to trust Christian forgiveness. How-ever, we should not overlook the unfortunate truth in his observation.It is especially important when we acknowledge that our secular culture increasingly shares with Forster a hope bereft of divine forgiveness, where mere regret sadly replaces repentance.

I contend that the Greek word used in Scripture to express repentance distorts the true biblical meaning of the crucial term: Repent. The Greek word that is used is metanoia, meaning to change one’s mind, whereas in every context in Scripture ‘repentance’ is not a change of mind but a change of heart. The difficulty lies in the fact that the Greek language has no word for change of heart—no metakardia. Swahili has no word for atonement because there had been no experience of atonement. So Greek, bereft of Israel’s revelation concerning change of heart, is left with a superficial hope, only a change of mind, metanoia, no metakardia.

This failure to appreciate the deeper dimension of human nature was abetted by the teaching of Socrates and Plato, who insisted that knowledge produces virtue. They identified goodness with knowledge, saying that to know the good is to do the  good. Vice and evil are simply the result of ignorance.

Such belief is radically different from that of Scripture: “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately corrupt,” and “If I… understand all mysteries and all knowledge, but have not love, I am nothing” (I Cor. 13: 1, 2). Love comes not from a change of mind but a change of heart. “Rend your hearts and not your garments” (Joel 2:13); “The Lord is nigh them of broken hearts” (Ps. 31:18); “The wise in heart will heed commandments” (Prov. 10:8); “The heart of men is set to do evil” (Eccles. 9:13); “receive the heart of contrite ones ”(Is. 57:15); “Blessed are the poor in heart for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). In fact, it takes nine columns of Cruden’s Concordance to list the texts regarding heart, but one column is sufficient to include all the verses regarding mind.

Because the Greek language had no word for change of heart, Greek translation gives prominence to the mind. This was bootlegged into Christianity, resulting in a Greek rather than a Christian understanding of repentance. It is not enough to change one’s mind. Our hearts must be changed, changed not by knowledge but by love.

Following this mistake the meaning of faith or belief (pistis) tends to be relegated to the mind and not, as in Scripture, more deeply to the heart. One can intellectually acknowledge the existence of God, but that is a far cry from the trust of God in one’s heart.The latter results in action whereas the former can rest in mere passive acknowledgement.

Much of the historical misunderstanding in the relation between faith and works stems from teaching that faith (pistis) is a matter of the mind instead of its being a trust of the heart that, as true faith, inevitably leads to works. Professor Ashley Null has taught us that “what the heart desires, the will chooses and the mind justifies.” This, he tells us, is his paraphrase of Philip Melanchthon’s writings that so influenced Thomas Cranmer and can be seen in his Prayer Books. Knowing that the will is but an agency of the heart, Cranmer saw the virulent vanity of Pelagianism. Unless the heart is enticed, evoked, and changed, it is vain to exhort the will. The Gospel itself is the means by which the heart is changed by the message of a gracious God. Unless the heart is moved, the will cannot be effectively engaged.

It is particularly evident in the parable of the prodigal son that repentance in the pig-pen is a low level of repentance, an insight of the mind. “I can do better as one of my father’s servants.” But true repentance, a change not of mind but a change of heart, occurs when the prodigal son experiences the undeserved, initiating, costly love of his father. Similarly, Cranmer’s absolutions in both Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer (1928) show that true repentance comes after, not before, absolution. The grace of unearned and undeserved absolution speaks to the heart and results in the fruit of the Spirit.

There is no Socratic reliance upon the mind as the means of virtue and obedience in Cranmer’s prayer books. His use of Psalm 51 in the penitential office, “make in me a clean heart, O God…, a broken and a contrite heart, shalt thou not despise,” his responses to the Decalogue, “incline our hearts to keep this law,” and the reception of Holy Communion, “feed on him in thy heart” show clearly that Cranmer’s incomparable use of Scripture for the biblical meaning of repentance indicates a true metakardia even though there is no such Greek word.

When Dr. Null’s work on Cranmer was published by Oxford University Press, it was promised that the whole title would be on the cover. Unfortunately it was not. One has to turn inside to the title page to find it: Thomas Cranmer’s Doctrine of Repentance: Renewing the Power to Love. Given the general and
understandable attitude toward the term ‘repentance’ the sub-title badly needs to be up front. Many of us feel that repentance is good for other people, but understanding that repentance renews “the power to love” makes us realize a dimension that all of us seek. “Renewing the power to love” rescues the remorse in repentance from destructive possibilities. Sin is a deeper matter than merely breaking a rule or law. It is always radically personal against others, against self, and against God. No self-hate, self-damage, despair, or the accumulation of sacrifices—the fruit of mere remorse—can rectify or redeem sin.

God’s absolution is no mere acceptance. It is God’s grace squeezing into the bastion of our hearts through the crack of remorse. This is the repentance (metakardia) that renews the power to love.

The Rt. Rev’d C. FitzSimmons Allison is the 12th Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina and lives in Georgetown with his wife Martha.

HE LEFT A MARK AND IT IS GOD’S MARK

Posted by ajenkins on under Just A Thought, The Parish | Be the First to Comment

Saint James’ Epistle, Newsletter for May

Southerners, especially Charlestonians know the expression about the difference between a Yankee and a **** Yankee is that the latter doesn’t go back North. For the last five years we have had one of those Yankees. In fact, it may be worse. Bruce McDonald has not only been a Yankee that didn’t go home, but he is a Canadian that didn’t go home. And for that, I am thankful to God.
For the last five years Major Bruce McDonald, Canadian Army Retired, has been our Senior Warden, the Rector’s Warden at Saint James and he has left just a good and Godly mark that I will be forever thankful to him and for him.
Now first, let’s be honest about the means God used to draw Bruce to Saint James and the ministry we all share. It was love. Yes, love of God and from God. But also it was love – of a beautiful blond across the aisle. Some years ago when Bruce was visiting Saint James and his friend Bill McDaniel, they were at worship when Bill said, “Hey, what about the blond across the aisle?” Eventually Bruce and Rosalyn, the blond, married and began life on James Island and at Saint James. Now isn’t that just how God works? God uses love of all sorts to get His work accomplished.
As Bruce had been a lifelong Anglican and had served and even been part of planting a church in Canada, God and we, of Saint James quickly recognized that here was a leader for “such a time as this.” Bruce was chosen for fulfill an unexpired vestry term and then reelected, therefore serving five years as our Rector’s Warden on the Vestry.
During his tenure Bruce has left not only his mark, but he has left God’s mark.
Bruce has continually told me how he doesn’t like the finances, math and budgets of the business side of church ministry. Yet, it was Bruce who recognized the possibility and importance of our using endowed funds to payoff the mortgage on the Ministry Center, making Saint James, not only debt free, but positioned for ministry. That not only made it possible for us to balance the budget, but gave us all the incentive to do so. Bruce also reorganized the Vestry, creating a Finance Team which worked with the Endowment Committee to make decisions and recommendations for the Vestry’s approval, thus freeing the Vestry to be a more vision oriented, ministry minded group. For someone that doesn’t like finances and budgets, that’s leadership.
Bruce continues to leave God’s mark on our Diocese. Bruce currently serves on the Diocesan Council, basically the vestry of the Diocese. Last year he was elected to the Ecclesiastical Court of the Diocese. This Court is formed to be the judges and jury of any charges which may be brought against the clergy. Thankfully there have been none recently. Bruce has also just been selected by our Bishop to serve on a Diocesan Communications Team who will help us respond to all the news articles and spin currently in the local and national media and international blogosphere. Again, Bruce left God’s mark, a man for such a time as this.
There is much more to say to bless and embarrass my friend Bruce, but I must have a personal note here. It was Bruce, along with the Vestry and thirteen sacrificial and generous givers who have made my sabbatical possible. Bruce along with our People’s Warden Virginia (another blessing) who asked a few folks to contribute to the sabbatical fund in order that the expense not use the precious resources we have for ministry. I am going to Israel for two months for education and renewal that I pray will bless us all. Bruce is still leaving God’s mark. Bruce continues to be a valued friend with that curious and sarcastic wit of his. I love him.
Lastly and most importantly, Bruce takes seriously James’ admonition (the brother of Jesus), “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them… And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well…” (James 5:13) Many times Bruce has called on me to join him, to go pray for someone who is sick. The results have been miraculous, even to the point of one our members who was certainly close to death. Bruce continues to leave God’s mark. Thanks be to God.
Arthur
1 John 4:19

Rector’s Annual Report Annual Meeting for Ministry, 2013

Posted by ajenkins on under Anglican Events, Faith At Home, Just A Thought, Regeneration, Sabbatical, The Parish, Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.”    Acts 20:28

TO BE AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF JESUS CHRIST
by
LOVING GOD.     LOVING PEOPLE.     BUILDING COMMUNITY.

THANKSGIVING

We continue to be a congregation of Thanksgiving. I know you have heard my refrain, “Let your thanksgivings overwhelm your complaints.” As there is always something about which to complain; by faith, there is also always something for which to give Thanks. Remember, we call the prayer of consecration at the Holy Communion, “The Great Thanksgiving.” I pray that you have been blessed and awed by the thanksgivings offered. For me these thanksgivings are humbling and encouraging. The testimonies to God’s goodness and action in our lives are to many to mention. We have joined the thanksgivings of our brothers and sisters-in-Christ for everything from birthdays to the birth of a child or a grandchild to the answer of prayer for healing from cancer, resurrection of a marriage and new faith and life. Yes, people have come to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Yes, I start this report with thanksgivings because expressing our thanks and recognition to God is changing who we are and our life together.

SHARE OUR SACRIFICE

Our stewardship, our Christian giving during 2012 was marked by the Share Our Sacrifice request. It reminded us of the power of Biblical solutions over financial solutions. It reminded us that as the Body of Christ we look for family solutions and not business solutions. It reminded us that as the Body of Christ we are an organism and not just an organization. Several of you have asked me why we didn’t continue that request this year. My answer continues to be two-fold. First, we did continue it. I asked you to simply add your increased sacrifice to your tithe. That’s what Kay and I did. The second part of the answer is that your Staff doesn’t have anything more with which to sacrifice. We sacrificed to  make a point, that is, if we all share in the giving there is very little sacrifice in it. Have you experienced the joy and peace of tithing, of giving intentionally to God and this ministry we share? Try it.

PREPARATION FOR A NEW ASSISTANT RECTOR – WE’VE DONE IT!

We’ve done it and I am so proud of you all. We have prayerfully and I think, faithfully called a new assistant pastor. The Rev’d Andrew Williams and his wife, the Rev’d Jill Williams and their two sons, Jude and Joshua will join us this Summer. Andrew will join us for his first Sunday on June 9th, the same Sunday our Bishop, Mark, will be with us. Jill may need to stay in Massachusetts for a time to sell their home and finish up some of her own ministry within the Diocese of Western Massachusetts. Andrew will bring a new energy and perspective to our clergy staff. Andrew thinks about car seats and soccer matches, while I think about reading and naps.
This new method of ministry transitions has been blessed and encouraged by our Bishop. In the past it was traditional and understood that no assistant could or would move into the leadership role upon the senior pastor’s retirement. This made for transitions that always depended on bringing someone from outside the parish family, outside the ministry organization to become the new spiritual leader. While this was done carefully, prayerfully and with a discerning search committee, it still was often marked by great change by not fully knowing what you were going to get. By growing up the pastoral leadership from within our ministry and life together will not miss a beat. But that is why we are bringing Andrew into our clergy staff now instead of 7 years from now. With God’s help and your understanding this next seven years will be a fruitful season of life and ministry at Saint James.

LOUISE WELD

As we prepare joyfully to welcome Andrew to our church I want to be very clear about my plans and prayers for the ministry I share with Louise Weld. I want you to keep her. I want you to give of your tithes and offerings that we might be able to keep Louise on our staff for as long as she can and will serve. Yes, I want us to allow Louise to have a more part-time ministry as she wishes at the same time recognizing that we need her. Louise and her ministry is impacting us at Saint James and also our Diocese. She is about to play a major role in the understanding of women’s ministry and ordination as we reorganize our diocese. She is a symbol of the fullness of ministry that is to be shared by men and women, husbands and wives and parents. I fully believe that Louise and I, clerics male and female, perfect and imperfect, represent a small part of how the Kingdom of God, the Jesus Culture and the Body of Christ works. That representation is important for our Diocese at this critical time.

FAITH AT HOME

Building Faith by building families of faith continues to be the vision and goal of our staff and myself. I recognize this contradicts many of the teaching, standards and expectations of our society and even many of the practices of the church in the past. Just one of the lies that continues to be propagated by society is that you, the parents, have very little influence over your children. This is such a sad lie and completely opposite of Biblical truth and God’s created order. God has given parents power and authority over their children’s hearts. And, as we often say by quoting Dr. Rob Rienow, “IT IS NEVER TOO LATE.”
We are starting to see some of the fruit of this dramatic shift in how we teach and make disciples and how we structure our ministry. I want you to know that many parishes in the Diocese are copying Saint James. Our invitation for fathers to pray over their children at baptism, confirmation, graduation and more is being used across the diocese and more. The Rev’d Mark Holmen, of Faith At Home Ministries is sharing this idea and more across the country. To God be the Glory & Honor.

ANGLICAN EVENTS

Last year I told you that “we have been living as a step-child within The Episcopal Church (TEC) for the last eight years.” Well, now that has ended. To quote our Bishop, The Right Reverend Mark Lawrence, “we have moved on.” During this past year charges of abandonment of communion and judgments of inhibition and deposition were brought against our Bishop. Knowing that if our Bishop were removed we would not be allowed to chose another, our Diocese left TEC. I have been asked by many times, “where are we going?” My answer has been and continues to be, “No where.” We are not realigning with any Anglican entity at this time. We will simply remain the Diocese of South Carolina. Remember, we were a Diocese before there was a TEC and we are one of several dioceses who formed TEC. Obviously and sadly this will all decided in court. Again, I remind you that your leadership, the Vestry and many parish elders have made wise, faithful and effective preparations for whatever may come.
Meanwhile, we continue to keep the main thing, the main thing. That is the worship and ministry of our Living Lord, Jesus Christ. For me, that is most clearly expressed in the Apostle John’s words in his first letter. “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also my have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.    1 John 1:3

THE DIOCESE AND THE STANDING COMMITTEE

The next several years will be significant and historic for our Diocese. Because we are now an Anglican Diocese, no longer restricted by TEC traditions or canons, we can and will reorganize ourselves and reclaim some of the Biblical ground that has been lost. Just one small but profound example of that is membership. Canonically speaking, TEC has defined a member for the last many years as “one who attends church and receives communion at least three times a year.” Doesn’t that seem like a pretty meager definition of membership? I have been blessed and challenged to be elected to the Standing Committee of the Diocese for the next three years. As a member of the Standing Committee I will be on the forefront of our reorganization and identity as a Biblically based church and a member of the Anglican Communion.

SABBATICAL

I can hardly believe that my sabbatical is almost here. I must bear witness to you of God’s grace and provision in this. The timing is certainly providential. Yes, I admit I have wanted, even needed a sabbatical for many years. Please remember, a sabbatical is more than a rest or a vacation. It is more importantly a time of renewal, education, reflection and ministry direction. I can’t imagine a better time than this as we all plan for the future and I as I consider the direction and importance of my waning years of ministry with you. The place is also providential. Obviously I had considered possibilities and places for a sabbatical for years. Thoughts, daydreams, listening to other pastors who had traveled here and there and focused on many differing areas of study and ministry. And then, as this sabbatical became a real possibility the door just opened to Jerusalem, Israel and the Holy Land. Two courses of study at St. George’s College and then a month with a Rabbi living with him in his flat (that’s what they call an apartment). I will literally be able to cross that line from being a tourist to be a resident of Jerusalem, even though just for a short time. I will be able to leave the tours and structured itineraries and go to some of the Holy Places and just be. One of the several things the Lord has put on my heart is to go the the Mount of Olives, take with me the list of members of Saint James and pray for you each by name. I can’t wait to name you, your family, your children before the Lord in that place where our Lord prayed, “Make them one as we are one.” John 17:22. Also, the finances have been providential. Last year, Bruce and Virginia, our Wardens, sent out a request to some of the members of Saint James and they graciously funded my sabbatical. I am so grateful and humbled by their generosity. Also, I am blessed that this didn’t take away from the ministry budget and resources we so carefully steward at Saint James.
My greatest prayer for my sabbatical is that it will not be all mine. My prayer is that this will be a time of ministry review, renewal and reflection that will bless, encourage and guide us all. I can’t wait to  return with stories, revelations and places to share.

Lastly – FIFTEEN years  (I write this every year to remind us both)

I am coming to the end of my fifteenth year with you as your Rector and Pastor. I remind us both of this because being a long-term pastor is so important to me. I believe when God calls pastors to the ministry He calls us to the same commitment as when married. God calls us to monogamy. When Kay and I talked and prayed about returning to Saint James in 1998 we both knew that this was not a stepping stone, but God’s invitation to be part of Saint James either until I retired or was told to leave. For me, what we do and share together will be my life “well spent.” That is a blessing to me as I pray it is to you.

Arthur
Ephesians 3:14-21
Prayer BCP, pg. 562 & 563, bottom of the page