Mothers’ Day

Posted by ajenkins on July 26, 2013 under Good News, Jerusalem, Jesus, Sabbatical | 2 Comments to Read

Today was Mother’s Day at Saint George’s College. We spent the day just in the outskirts of Jerusalem at Ein Kerem and Bethlehem. While in Ein Kerem we visited the Church of the Visitation where the angel visited Mary and told her she was to be a mother. “Let it be to me according to your will.” Isn’t that the response God would ask of us all? Our typical reaction is, “yes according to your will, but….” The greatest thing about submitting to God’s will for us is  that He knows what’s best for us and will never ask anything of us that would do harm. I love the great phrase from one of the prayers in Morning Prayer. “In whose service is perfect freedom.” To “let it be according to your will” is to find perfect freedom. Yes, it sure may stretch you, but it will also comfort you and provide for you.

Following the Church of the Visitation we then visited the Church of John the Baptist. While there a group of Hatian Christians were also visiting and began to sing in the shade under the trees surrounding the church. Amazing! Glorious! I wanted to join in but it was in French. No matter, the worship was blessed.

From Ein Kerem we traveled to Bethlehem to the Church of the Nativity. Now you can be sure this holy spot is on every pilgrim’s tour in the Holy Land. And they were all there today. No matter, the wait, it was still an amazing moment to go through the gate of humble access (that’s a low door) and then descend below the altar of this Franciscan Church to the small grotto that has become the traditional site of our Lord’s birth. The place is wonderful, but remember, it is the people who are holy. Their reverence was inspiring.

Tomorrow we travel to the Sea of Galilee, the Mount of the Beatitudes and the Church of the Multiplication. I have been chosen to preach at our worship service tomorrow evening. Preaching by the Sea of Galilee. What a personal moment. I can’t wait.

While we have been here in Jerusalem the Moslems have been celebrating the Holy Month of Ramadan. Today was the third Friday of Ramadan, the holiest day. There were 200,000 Moslem pilgrims in Jerusalem. Yikes. You can’t imagine the traffic jams and the people jams. I guess the Holy Land isn’t always so holy.

Good Night from Jerusalem.
With my love and prayers for you,
Arthur

Holy Land. Holy People.

Posted by ajenkins on July 24, 2013 under Devotionals, Good News, Jesus, Sabbatical | 2 Comments to Read

Today, Tuesday, was a recovery day for us after 24 hours of travel and the 7 hour time change. This gave Kay and myself the opportunity to go into the Walled City. Entering the Old City through the Damascus was quite an experience. Entering the gate while thinking of the Psalm 122 was most moving. “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord. Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!” Wow, and my feet were standing within her Gates. Even with that wonderful moment, it was also a bit disconcerting that upon entering the Holy City we had to fight way through the Souk. That’s the market. While winding my way through the very narrow labyrinth of streets filled with shops and shopkeepers hawking their goods, the Holy City seems far from Holy. Then I walked out of the dark street and into a sun filled courtyard and stood before the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I will not try to fully describe our brief time in this very holy place. Yes, we were drawn first to go up the very narrow, steep steps to the Rock of Golgotha. There, just as other pilgrims, I could crawl down, under the altar, and reach through to touch the rock upon which Jesus was crucified. What a moment of humility and thanksgiving. Because we were alone and not with some tour, we could tarry. I use that word because it fits. We tarried, just as Jesus asked the Disciples in Gethsemane. We sat. We prayed. We talked. We looked. We rested. We soaked. We than went around to the Holy Sepulchre. I must admit the power and the holiness of this spot was a bit diminished because it was inundated by such crowds. It was hard to get even a moment at the place where Jesus Christ burst froth from the grave. Thankfully I will have several more opportunities to visit the Holy Sepulchre during this class and following.

With all that the Holy site contains, Golgatha, the Tomb, the Resurrection, I have to tell you the holiest moment I had was at the rock that is called the Stone of Anointing. This stone commemorates the slab on which the body of Jesus may have been lain so that it could be anointed before burial. Please understand. It is only hopeful that this may be the very stone upon which Jesus was laid. But, as I stood and watched the people come to kneel and pray, as they came to place objects on the stone to be blessed, as they knelt and touched it with their lips and their prayers I realized the holiness was not in the rock. It was in the people. Then hesitantly I too knelt and kissed the stone and touched it with my forehead and the holiness invaded me. I stayed their too long. There were many who wanted a moment at this place. Yet, I couldn’t leave. Thanksgiving. Sacrifice. Redemption. Joy. Life. Hope. These were just a few of the many words and emotions that poured over me. I didn’t touch the heart of Jesus. He touched me.

I pray for you all, for a holy moment of your own. Here in the Holy City, I experienced it. The holiness doesn’t reside in the place. It resides in the people. You too are holy. Always remember “the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of Glory.”
With my love,
Arthur
Philippians 1:3

Good Night from Jerusalem

Which Sabbatical? How To Choose?

Posted by ajenkins on July 20, 2013 under Devotionals, Jesus, Just A Thought, Sabbatical, The Parish | Be the First to Comment

As I begin this last day of preparation and packing for the next stage of my three month sabbatical I am amazed and thankful at how this has all come about. The evidence of God’s guidance and sovereignty is overwhelming. One of the hallmarks of the Twelve Step Programs is the trust that “God can do for you, what you can’t do for yourself.” That has been so evident in this journey of choosing which sabbatical am I to take? When one begins with a open season of time and a blank slate the possibilities are endless. At first this seems attractive. Then it becomes overwhelming. The question initially seems to be this. Where to go? What to do? What to study? Then I recognized that is not the primary question. The primary question is, “For whom is this sabbatical?” Is it for me? Is it for the people off Saint James? Is it for God? Is it for shared ministry? Of course the answer to all these questions is yes. Then prayerfully I came upon a more basic question. Is this sabbatical about mission or study? Do I spend this time on a mission to serve others? Or do I go and study and learn more about mission and ministry? As I made the choice to travel to Jerusalem and the Holy sites of Israel I began to feel a bit selfish. I had to wrestle with the possibility of being a missionary tourist.

As I made my decision to take a study sabbatical and not a missions sabbatical I had to answer the question of the why of my sabbatical. These are the questions first mentioned above. For whom is this sabbatical? I would love to be going on a mission in this sabbatical. It would feed my soul. With that, my decision to take a study sabbatical comes from God’s leading and the desire to be more useful and useable to the faithful of Saint James to lead them to a life of missions. There are too many of us, Christians all, who spend our time studying about our faith and never enter the mission of our life-in-Christ.

I am going to Jerusalem and Israel at-large to be renewed, to be challenged, to be inspired. I also go for Sabbath Rest. All of this is for one purpose and mission. That is upon my return I may lead you, my friends, family and faithful of Saint James on a life of mission. We are on a mission you know.

With God’s help I will live out Saint Paul’s parting mission for the Christians of Ephesus. “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

Arthur Has Left The Building

Posted by ajenkins on July 4, 2013 under Good News, Just A Thought, Sabbatical, The Parish | 2 Comments to Read

I can hardly believe the time has come for me to leave Saint James for a season. The sabbatical that all of you have so graciously granted me has arrived. I am both excited and appropriately hesitant. I am excited for all the possibilities and adventures that await me. I am hesitant due to all the possibilities and adventures that await me. You understand – it’s called the unknown.

Sunday, June 23rd is my last Sunday at Saint James. During the first several weeks of July I will take some personal time to prepare for the heart of my sabbatical and see my family. I must be a good son and go see my mother who lives in Raleigh, NC. She turns 90 soon and mostly is doing quite well. She had a real slump of health issues the past several months, but has rebounded somewhat is has some renewed quality of life. While I’m gone I certainly covet your prayers for her – Mildred Jenkins.

Also during this personal time I hope to take a motorcycle trip. I know, I know. Remember my reply whenever I’m asked, “Where do you go on that thing?” I always say, “Nearer my God to Thee.” In addition to this there is lots of preparation, a little packing and at least six books I am to read before arriving in Jerusalem.

On Sunday, July 21st, I hope to return to Saint James for the 10:30 worship that Louise and Andrew may send me out with the commissioning of the Holy Spirit and with your prayers. Please know how much your support will be needed that we all might realize the potential of this trip. This Sabbatical is not just as a vacation for me or a time of study and reflection. This can be a renewal from which all of us may benefit. I hope to return filled with memories, moments, places and people that will have impacted me, the Holy Scriptures and the prayer that it will bear much fruit in my teaching, preaching, leadership and pastoral care. I can’t wait to go and I can’t wait to return – to you.

While in Jerusalem I will take two courses of study at St. George’s College. Founded in 1887, St. George’s College and Cathedral is the oldest ongoing Anglican presence in Jerusalem and is the seat of the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

The first course I will take (the one for which Kay is joining me) is the entitled The Palestine of Jesus. It is a 14 day study tour of Holy sites and class room work with both academic and devotional aspects.

The second course I will take at St. George’s is a offered for the first time this year. Its title, The Children of Abraham. This Course will focus on the three Abrahamic faiths:  Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and their theologies, histories, relations, and common heritage in the Holy Land.  The course will cover aspects of the following elements in the theology of the three traditions:  Israel; Covenant; election; Promise; and Faith; and will focus on convergence and divergence in the relations between the three religions. I can’t think of any topic that has greater impact on God’s story through the Hebrew Nation and greater implications for today’s geopolitical issues, cultural issues and faith issues. Again, I can’t wait.

During the interim between these two courses, from August 6th through September 6, I will live with Rabbi Natan Ophir in his flat. I met the Rabbi on an internet site; Airbnb. Basically it is an internet bed and breakfast system. After corresponding for a time he agreed to host me for the month between courses at St. George’s.

Obviously I am excited at the possibilities of being a resident for a time in Jerusalem and the interaction I will be able to have with this Rabbi and professor at Jerusalem College of Technology. He grew up in Philadelphia, emigrated to Israel in the mid 80’s and received his PhD from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1993. Dr. Ophir is also a knowledgeable guide of the Holy Lands. I am looking forward to the discussions we can have and his directions as to the places to go in Israel.

This extended length of time in Jerusalem, Israel and beyond will allow me to move from being a tourist to the life of a pilgrim. The faithful have been making pilgrimages to the Holy Land for thousands of years. A pilgrimage is always made seeking Holy revelation. The tourist takes a tour, but the pilgrim takes time. I am going to the Holy Land not just to see the sights, but to hear from God. Speak Lord!

Arthur,  John 10:27, Acts 20:28

Rector’s Annual Report Annual Meeting for Ministry, 2013

Posted by ajenkins on May 1, 2013 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

Why I’m Going To Tel Aviv

Posted by ajenkins on February 19, 2013 under Good News, Just A Thought, Sabbatical, Sermons and More | Be the First to Comment

“Why Tel Aviv?” To understand the answer to this question and the importance of this city for the Kingdom of God one must look at its past, present, and future.

Tel Aviv-Yafo is a city composed of both the ancient and the modern. Yafo (Jaffa, Joppa), the southern part of our city, is almost 4,000 years old and was, for centuries, the main port city on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Tradition tells us that one of Noah’s three sons, Yefet (Japheth), founded the city of Yafo.  Later, the famed cedars of Lebanon were shipped through the city on the way to Jerusalem in order to construct the doors of the Second Temple (Ezra 3:7). This port city was seen as such a strategic location, the gateway to Jerusalem and to the east, that it was conquered multiple times throughout history by various empires: Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Turkish, and even by Napoleon. In addition to its economic significance, Yafo frequently served as a military beachhead, the land that is captured first to take the rest of the territory.

Yafo also has a great biblical significance, as a gateway for messengers of God’s love and redemption. The Prophet Jonah was called by God to go from Yafo and bring His mercy to the Assyrian people of Nineveh (in modern Iraq). This is the example in the Bible that shows God’s love for people who are not Jewish. Similarly, in the book of Acts, Simon Peter, after raising Tabitha (Dorcas) from the dead in Yafo, sees a vision to take the Gospel to the gentiles for the first time. Almost immediately, he is led to Caesarea and preaches the good news to Cornelius and his men (Acts 9-10).

Tel Aviv, Israel’s modern and secular city, was founded in 1909 on the sand dunes north of Yafo. By the 1930’s the city had become another Mediterranean metropolis, designated “The White City” for its sandstone facades and Bauhaus architecture. In 1948, Israel declared its independence in Tel Aviv and supplied food and ammunition to Jerusalem in the War of Independence. It is currently Israel’s center for commerce and trade, high tech, and the military; but is widely known for its avid nightlife, white beaches, sports, and café culture. With an inner city population of 400,000 and a greater area population of 3.3 million, the Tel Aviv region contains more Jews per capita than any place on earth.

And yet with its biblical past and its abundance of modern life, most of Tel Aviv remains in darkness, spiritually dead. Though Jewish by blood and culture, the majority of people has little faith in God and has turned to the occult for guidance and spiritual food. In the book of Joshua, the area of Tel Aviv was allotted to the tribe of Dan.  Sadly, they later gave up their inheritance to the Philistines, moved north, and turned to idolatry. This idolatrous spirit continues to pervade the modern city with its large homosexual population and rampant materialism. While the number of Messianic Jews is increasing, only 0.2% of the Jewish population of Israel believes that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah.

Our hope is in the Lord and He is preparing the harvest. Tel Aviv-Yafo is still a spiritual gateway; as God sent the Gospel from this city we pray that it will return here and form a spiritual beachhead for His Kingdom to take the rest of the country. In Psalm 87: it says, “the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob,” and Tel Aviv-Yafo is one of these gates. May the Lord open up these ancient doors and transform our city to truly become His “White City;” the gateway to Jerusalem.

“Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.” Psalm 24:9