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

HE LEFT A MARK AND IT IS GOD’S MARK

Posted by ajenkins on May 1, 2013 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

A GOOD FRIDAY DEVOTIONAL

Posted by ajenkins on February 5, 2013 under Devotionals, Jesus, Just A Thought, Repentance, The Parish | Be the First to Comment

I WILL GIVE YOU A NEW HEART
Protection. Sometimes it seems as if all of life is about protection. Finding safety in the midst of danger. How can I protect myself from all the violence I see in the world today. In the world? Hah! How about protection from the violence and murder in our cinemas and even in our schools. There seems to be a new incident of senseless revenge-filled murder every day. While this is horrible and frightening, this violence seems to pale in comparison to the danger we experience daily through the judgment, the hurtful words of others. How can I protect myself from the hurts of others? Either I have to face them or ignore them. Facing them is too frightening, too dangerous. I’ll just ignore them. That’s it. I’ll just harden my heart towards them.
God recognized the hardness of heart of His people. He recognized that their only means of protection, of coping was to harden their hearts and to become desensitized to the horrors and dangers that surrounded them and even that which was in their own hearts. He spoke through the Prophet Ezekiel and gave them a great promise.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you…”        Ezekiel 36:26
Good Friday represents so many things to me. It reminds me of our Lord’s taking my place in the punishment I deserve. It reminds me of the price that must be paid for restoration – restoration to God, my Creator; restoration to those whom I love and have hurt; restoration to those for whom I don’t care; restoration to myself, my conscience, my life. Good Friday represents so much honesty.
Most personally and regularly, Good Friday breaks my heart. Jesus enduring the Cross for me breaks my heart. It breaks my heart to heal my heart. No matter how much I know or how hard I try, I still harden my heart as a means of coping with the hurts from others. I too easily demonize and diminish the people who hurt me. I think, “They don’t matter.” or, “If they only knew what I know.” It is in the moment of Christ’s dying proclamation, “Forgive them, they know not what they do” that His compassion and love for people convicts, breaks and restores my stony heart. Jesus gives me a new heart. A heart for people. A heart for life. A heart for Him.

What Is The Gospel

Posted by ajenkins on February 24, 2011 under Devotionals, Good News, Jesus, Sermons and More, The Parish | Be the First to Comment

During Lent we will continue our study and sermons on the fundamentals of life and the Christian Faith. We will be using a small book entitled, What Is The Gospel, by Greg Gilbert.

Why will we ask and investigate such a fundamental question as this? Surely, everyone knows what the Gospel is? Why even non-Christians know what the gospel is. We use the expression, “That’s the gospel truth” all the time. Everyone knows what the gospel is.

Sadly, this is not true.

The gospel is being challenged today at almost every major point.  When it comes to God, people no longer think of Him as holy and righteous, and it has become almost axiomatic to reject the idea that He judges.  What we have instead is a sort of affable, but kind of clueless grandfather who wishes we’d do better but understands that of course nobody’s perfect.  Not only so, but people also shy away instinctively from the understanding that we are sinners who are liable to God’s judgment and condemnation.  We tend to think of ourselves as more or less good people, with a relatively minor infraction here or there.  Even many evangelicals have, deliberately or not, started to shy away from talking about sin as rebellion against God, instead saying that the human problem is really one of disintegration, meaninglessness, and broken relationships. The biggest challenge to the gospel, though, I think, is a strong tendency to make its center something other than the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross cannot be shoved over to the side or replaced with something else (like cultural transformation, or the promise of a new heavens and new earth, or social justice).  As Paul said, the gospel that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” is not just important.  It’s not even just very important.  It is of first importance.

Have We Lost The Cross?

As I look around at books being published by evangelicals, even books that claim to be explaining the gospel, the more I see authors getting exciting about things other than the death of Jesus on the cross in the place of his people, taking the punishment for their sin.  There are two things that are particular dangers for evangelicals in this area.  First, there’s a tendency simply to shove the cross out of the center of the gospel, to say something like, “Yes, yes, of course the cross is important.  But we need to understand that what the gospel is really about is…” It could be “God’s purpose to remake the world” or “God’s invitation to us to join him in bringing about his kingdom” or “a declaration that Jesus is Lord over all” or any number of other things.  So the center of the gospel becomes something other than the cross. That is a misunderstanding of the gospel.  Second, there’s a tendency to re-think or re-understand the cross as something other than Jesus dying in the place of his people, taking the punishment they deserved for their sin.  So, often you’ll read or hear someone saying something like “At the cross, human culture and human systems reached their lowest, most evil point.  All the oppression and violence that humans could muster was flung at Jesus, and he absorbed it all and defeated it!”  What’s missing there, of course, is any understanding that what Jesus really absorbed on the cross was God’s wrath for our sin.  It’s why Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” and not, “O culture, O culture, why have you turned against me?”

We will use the Gospel, the Cross, Jesus’ Substitutionary sacrifice and God’s Word to answer some of our questions of God and life. “Why did God allow this to happen?” “Now, what do I do?” If God is good, why ______?” “If God is all-knowing, why should I bother to pray?”

Why not take another look at the Cross? Why not take another look at Jesus? Why not take another look at the Gospel? It might just change your life – eternally.

Breaking News: Diocese of South Carolina Postpones Convention

Posted by ajenkins on February 10, 2010 under Anglican Events, The Parish | Be the First to Comment

Bishop Mark Lawrence, our Bishop released this letter today

Full Text of Letter

Arthur’s February Letter

Posted by ajenkins on February 4, 2010 under The Parish | Be the First to Comment

On Wednesday, February 17, 2010, we will enter into one of the most important seasons of the church year—the “40 days” of Lent. The word “Lent” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘lencten’ or spring, the time of year when the days begin to lengthen. Lent is one of the most important seasons of the church year because it is a time of penitence, an introspective period during which we take stock of our lives and our relationships to discover and change what we must to prepare for Easter and experience the spiritual renewal that comes when we engage in this type of activity of faith. So, during Lent we each follow the example of Jesus by sacrificing our own will to the purpose of God. We sacrifice, not to win God’s favor, but to gain the attention of our soul, our body, and our spirit. What will you sacrifice?

During this season one is encouraged to make a special effort in one’s piety and faith life. We often do this as we give up something or add some spiritual discipline. Often what one surrenders is a physical sacrifice, i.e., chocolate, smoking, sugar, over-indulgence of any sort and more. Also, I pray you have heard me invite you to give up something eternal, i.e., gossip, anger, blame, or retribution. You may remember that last year I committed to give up sarcasm. I failed terribly and at the same time I succeeded wonderfully. I fell into my default habit of sarcasm daily, but I was certainly made sensitive to it. Dear God, help!

The spiritual discipline of sacrifice or giving something up for Lent is useful and commendable. This year may I also encourage you to add something to your life, your daily routine for this season. I encourage you to add THE TRIANGLE, THE TRINITY OF LIFE. This year, just for a season to try it out, add the Trinitarian lifestyle, Jesus’ lifestyle of UP, IN, and OUT.

UP – LOVE GOD – BY WORSHIP & PRAYER

There are several opportunities to live UP with God. Sunday worship, daily prayer, prayer groups, and more are just a few of the ways to live in acknowledgement of God’s authority over your life. In addition to theses opportunities consider joining the group that will focus on “creative worship arts.”  This will be a time for us to explore our creativity and discuss how we can worship God though our artistic gifts, and then practice them!  Come all you who sew, knit, paint, draw, carve, photograph, scrapbook, etc.  The first meeting will be used to decide an appropriate meeting time and what project(s) we will accomplish in this season of lent. Now this may even be fun. Joy.

IN – LOVE PEOPLE – BY FELLOWSHIP, DISCIPLESHIP and ACCOUNTABILITY

There also are several opportunities to live IN with fellow disciples. There are Sunday equipping groups, Home Life Groups,

OUT – BUILDING COMMUNITY – BY SOCIAL OUTREACH, EVANGELISM and MISSION

If God is nudging you to add on “reaching out” for your Easter preparation, then join this group. The OUT Group will form to find a place of love and service to our neighbors on Ferguson Road. We don’t have a project for you. We expect that as you join these folks and maybe the Bible Study that Amy Case and Paul Mitchell attend every Tuesday on Ferguson Road, that God will make it evident how Saint James may participate in their life and they in ours. There are lots of ideas. Come and add yours.

SHROVE TUESDAY or MARDI GRAS (Fat Tuesday)

Tuesday, February 16, is the final day before the Lenten fast. This day is variously recalled in the celebration of Carnival (“farewell to meat”) that is concluded on “Fat Tuesday” or Mardi Gras, and in Shrove Tuesday’s pancakes (consuming the eggs, milk and fat not allowed during the fasting of Lent). “Shrove” Tuesday refers to the ancient practice of being “shriven” (confessing and receiving absolution) in order to begin and keep a holy Lent. Don’t miss the famous Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper offered by our Men’s Groups. It is terribly hedonistic and indulgent, a fine confrontation to the need of a simpler time such as Lent.