April 22, 2014

Easter Sunday - The Resurrection Validated the Covenant of Jesus

Easter is the celebration of one of the most important events in human history. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ was God’s cosmic yes to all the teachings of Jesus. Jesus taught that he was the long promised Messiah of Deuteronomy 18.18 and Isaiah 52 - 54. He proved his authenticity by healing miracles and prophesying His own death and resurrection. Jesus taught that God was making a new Covenant of forgiveness. This Covenant offered forgiveness of sins through repentance and faith in Jesus sacrificial death. It did not replace but did supersede the Old Testament Covenant of Moses.

1. This sounds too good to be true
It is hard for modern scientific people to believe in miracles. Many have sadly bought into the great lie of modern liberalism which has deconstructed the Bible and questioned everything supernatural. There are three reasons for believing the resurrection story is historically true. First of all the specific details about the linen bandages and napkin suggest an eyewitness account as opposed to a made up story. Secondly the non-heroic confusion and misinterpretation of the Disciples also suggest this is real life rather than fiction. But the biggest reason for belief is the changed lives of the people who were there. This small group of people who had known and seen the risen Jesus went on to change the world. They went fearlessly to horrible deaths with joy on their faces as they witnessed to the intervention of God in history

April 19, 2014

Priests of the Caribbean: Fr. John and Lucille Gishler in St. Vincent

Santa from Canada and Fr. Brooker
We arrived in our Companion Diocese of the Windward Islands in November to be in place for Advent and the beginning of the Church’s liturgical year. They really celebrate things here so Advent begins with a huge gathering (1,200+) of the eight parishes in an outdoor stadium with all the clergy in full vestments and the Bishop celebrating the Eucharist. I was able meet the clergy, address the gathering and present a special purple cross, blessed by Bishop Kerr-Wilson to Bishop Friday. Bishop Friday loves to joke and noted that he was already wearing a cross so this might be a double cross.

Blessed Is He That Comes In The Name Of the Lord (Palm Sunday Readings)

Palm Sunday is a special time for me as I was ordained a priest twenty-two years ago on Palm Sunday. I chose Palm Sunday because it is a celebration of Jesus love and faithfulness to God in a difficult time. Jesus is the model for how to get through a difficult time on faith. On Palm Sunday we celebrate Jesus humility and faithfulness in overcoming opposition and saving His people. Our Lectionary Readings have now been revised to replace Palm Sunday with the “Sunday of the Passion” – which most people observe on God Friday. My preference is to maintain the old order and focus on this one brief celebration of Jesus as Lord and Saviour overcoming obstacles to ministry and riding victoriously into Jerusalem

1.     The Isaiah Reading reminds us that Jesus had to ‘set his face like flint’
·         Words jumped out at me as the choice all Christians must make in our time
·         We all risk opposition when we declare our faith or take a stand on issues
·         My parents opposed my call
·         Jesus challenged the religious authorities of His time
·         Jesus challenged and opposed Satan
·         Jesus went against his family
·         Jesus was betrayed by His disciples
·         Nice guys don’t get crucified

2.     Jesus came “in the name of the lord”

April 4, 2014

Jesus Calls Us From Death To New Life (Lent 5 Readings)

\The readings are all about calling people from a state of potential spiritual death to a state of new spiritual life. Ezekiel is given a vision and instructed by God to prophesy and bring the bones of dead soldiers back to life. Paul teaches us to apply this wisdom to our own lives by contrasting the lives of people who are spiritually dead in their sinful nature; with the lives of people who have found a new spiritual life guided by the Holy Spirit. In the raising of Lazarus we see a dramatic example of Jesus calling someone He had a relationship of love with; from death back to physical life. These Readings encourage us to examine our own relationship of love and faith in Jesus as we go through our Lenten preparation for Easter.

1. Ezekiel is learning to follow instructions
God is teaching him. He is asked to do something that seems impossible. It is a test of faith. Ezekiel is learning to trust God and be guided by the Holy Spirit. He is also learning about the desire of God, the power of God and the glory of God.

  • Desire of God is that all people will have life and live in daily, personal relationship with God – right-relationship = righteousness = holy = unpolluted by disloyalty, rebellion and sin
  • Ezekiel sees that He has the power to do this – to bring what was dead to life.
  • Resurrection of the soldiers reveals the power and glory of God and gives us all hope
  • Outward physical sign of the inner spiritual grace of our own resurrection – definition of sacrament / how we explain the invisible spiritual dimension          
2. Paul contrasts those controlled by the sinful nature with those guided by the Holy Spirit