Friday, July 22, 2011

Is Jesus Enough?



Things I love; my mom, apple pie, baseball, Fourth of July parades, my truck, fishing, Harley Davidson’s, my wife, and my kids. Not in that order of course. I just wanted to get that out there so there were no doubts about where I was coming from as I write this blog article. Having said that, none of these things are my first love. I am a Christian, and my first love is Christ and He in all the fullness of the Trinity is the only one worthy of my worship. Yet here is my struggle, on Mother's Day, Father's Day, Memorial Day, Veteran's Day, opening day (baseball, or fishing) or even the Fourth of July I am afraid that we forget who our first love is. I am afraid that sometimes we forget why we gather to worship and for whom we have gathered to worship. In my experience on certain Sunday' a year Jesus is forced to share the center stage of our hearts for our worship. As a pastor I always struggle with planning worship on these Sunday's, I struggle with trying to find a balance between worshiping our God and honoring our veterans, mothers, fathers, children etc.

The easiest thing to do would be not to worry about it, but even in the free church movement we have an expected liturgy, unfortunately much of our expected liturgy on these Sunday's has more to do with cultural concerns than Christ. Very seldom (a.k.a. never) do I get a complaint that our services didn't honor Christ enough but hardly a Mother's Day, Veterans Day, or Fourth of July goes by that I don't hear, "Pastor, I was disappointed we didn't do more for our veterans, mothers, founding fathers, etc." I always want to ask, "wasn't Jesus enough? If all we had to offer was Jesus would you still come?" I never do though. I never do. Instead I re-read Exodus 32 and begin planning my vacation days, (Mother's Day. Memorial Day, Fourth of July, etc.) So what do you do? How do you deal with this in your churches? What advice would you give another Pastor? Is this even an issue for you?

I look forward to learning from you,

Brian

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"The Lord's Supper," by Dr. Henry Spaulding

Since Dr. Spaulding's last entry stirred such frenzied and passionate discussion, I thought that with his permission, I would post this essay for discussion here as well. Blessed Triduum!

ARTICLES OF FAITH #13: "THE LORD'S SUPPER" by Dr. Henry Spaulding


Article XIII - The Lord's Supper
17. We believe that the Memorial and Communion Supper instituted by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is essentially a New Testament sacrament, declarative of His sacrificial death, through the merits of which believers have life and salvation and promise of all spiritual blessings in Christ. It is distinctively for those who are prepared for reverent appreciation of its significance, and by it they show forth the Lord's death till He come again. It being the Communion feast, only those who have faith in Christ and love for the saints should be called to participate therein.
Exodus 12:1-14; Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:17-20; John 6:28-58; 1 Corinthians 10:14-21; 11:23-32
Article XIII affirms regarding the Lord's Supper:
· It is an essential New Testament sacrament
· The sacrament declares the sacrificial death of Christ (through which believers have new life)
· It is for those who are prepared for reverent appreciation
· It is the way the believer shows forth the Lord's death until he comes again
· It is only for those who have faith in Christ

Article XIII has received considerably less attention in the Church of the Nazarene when compared to the debate on Article X and perhaps even Article IV. Partly, this is the case because we have not really practiced the sacrament regularly. Too often when we do take the sacrament it is little more than an add on or insert into worship. Perhaps, the main reason for this has been the fear of being too formal or liturgical. There are probably other reasons for the lack of emphasis upon the Eucharist in the history of the Church of the Nazarene. For example, an emphasis upon the Lord's Supper might require that we conceive of heart holiness in a fundamentally different way. We would need to think of holiness as less a single event than a lifestyle defined by practices larger than our willing. The focus would be less on the moment and more on the quality of life emerging from the practices of the Christian faith. This does not to suggest that we need to de-emphasize the moment, but it does infer that holiness is more than "a" moment.

Friday, April 15, 2011

"Baptism" by Dr. Henry Spaulding

My district publishes a weekly "E-Zine." Over the past several weeks it has included an essay on each of the Articles of Faith by Dr. Henry Spaulding, Provost of MVNU. With his permission, I am posting this essay for discussion here:

ARTICLES OF FAITH #12: "BAPTISM" by Dr. Henry Spaulding


Article XII - Baptism

16. We believe that Christian baptism, commanded by our Lord, is a sacrament signifying acceptance of the benefits of the atonement of Jesus Christ, to be administered to believers and declarative of their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior, and full purpose of obedience in holiness and righteousness.

Baptism being a symbol of the new covenant, young children may be baptized, upon request of parents or guardians who shall give assurance for them of necessary Christian training.

Baptism may be administered by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion, according to the choice of the applicant.


Matthew 3:1-7; 28:16-20; Acts 2:37-41; 8:35-39; 10:44-48; 16:29-34; 19:1-6; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-28; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:18-22


Article XII - Baptism affirms:

  • Commanded by our Lord
  • Sacrament signifying acceptance of the benefits of the atonement of Jesus Christ
  • To be administered to believers
  • Declarative of faith in Jesus Christ as savior
  • Declares the intention of live obediently
  • Symbol of a new covenant
  • Young children may be baptized if parents give assurance of Christian training
  • Can be administered by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion

The Christian tradition teaches that God created the world from nothing out of His love. The God worshipped in the Church was not and is not content to be alone. God's love sought an object and the most intense love comes to rest with the creature with a human face. God and humankind walked together in full fellowship until that creature with a human face decided to ignore the finitude that partially defined him. So the creature whose telos was to be perfected in the love of God went astray. The vast wasteland that the world became was defined by a disordered love. The sickness is so great that even the attempts to love are twisted into evil in one way or another. Into this sickness and darkness a light has come to deliver us unto life. The practices (sacraments) are a part of the way that this deliverance reaches to every aspect of life. According to L. Gregory Jones, Duke University, "baptism is a training in dying - specifically to sin, to the old self - so that people may be raised to newness of life. Further, this new life is given its shape by the Kingdom that Jesus announced and enacted" [Embodying Forgiveness: A Theological Analysis, 4]. Baptism is at the deepest level a means of grace. In fact, baptism is an instituted means of grace in the Church of the Nazarene.


The means of grace or the Christian practices are the habits of faith that begin to shape the world for the Christian. This means that it is in and through the waters of baptism that new life comes to those who believe. According to John Wesley, "By 'means of grace' I understand outward signs, words, or actions, ordained of God, and appointed for this end, to be the ordinary channels whereby he might convey to men, preventing, justifying, or sanctifying grace" [John Wesley, "The Means of Grace," Wesley's Works, 5:187].


Augustine, the fifth century theologian, defines a sacrament as visible word. A sacrament is a sign of a sacred thing in that it conveys grace, strengthens faith, enhances unity with Christ, and offers reassurance of God's promise toward us. The sacraments are tied into the life and work of the Church. The sacraments mediate God's grace. Human beings are sign-makers, that is, we sing, write, and draw. Because we are self-transcendent beings, we lift our eyes beyond the immediate to the transcendent. The Christian faith affirms that God's grace can be located both in the immanent and the transcendent. This is the genius of the gospel. Human beings live with our feet on the ground, but with the sense that we participate in something more. The sacraments and the sacramental are means of grace.


Dr. Rob Staples, retired theologian from Nazarene Theological Seminary, sets forth the criteria for defining the sacraments in the Protestant tradition: a) instituted by Jesus, b) necessity of a physical sign, and c) biblical word of promise. Staples adds "The sacraments were practiced mainly because Christ had commanded them, but also because they were a part of the Methodist heritage" [Outward Sign and Inward Grace: The Place of Sacraments in Wesleyan Spirituality, 22]. John Wesley captures a measure of this in a sermon titled "On Zeal":


In a Christian believer love sits upon the throne which is erected in the inmost soul; namely, the love of God and man, which fills the whole heart, and reigns without a rival. In a circle near the throne are all the holy tempers; - longsuffering, gentleness, meekness, fidelity, temperance; and if any other were comprised in "the mind which was in Christ." In an exterior circle are all the works of mercy whether to the souls or the bodies of men. By these we exercise all holy tempers, but these we continually improve, so that all these are real means of grace, although this is not commonly adverted to. Next to these are those that are usually termed works of piety; - reading and hearing the word, public, family, private prayer, receiving the Lord's Supper, fasting, and abstinence. Lastly, that his followers may the more effectually provoke one another to love, holy tempers, and good works, our blessed Lord has united them together in one body, the Church, dispersed all over the earth; a little emblem of which, of the Church universal, we have in every particular Christian congregation. [Wesley's Works, 7: 60-61].


The sacramental emphasis of the Methodist heritage distances it from a religion defined purely by subjective aspiration. The practices of the Christian faith are grounded in history and link the particular faith of a community with the broader contours of the work of God. Staples defines a particular dilemma associated with the combining of this Wesleyan heritage with the American holiness tradition, "The dilemma of the American holiness movement of the 19th -century had roots in Wesley's own theology and practice, as he struggles to harmonize this high churchmanship and his evangelical experience. In turn, the American holiness movement passed the dilemma on to its late-20th-century offspring" [Staples, 25].


Staples argues for a sacramentalist vision which is "the theological perspective that sees the physical as potentially the vehicle of the spiritual. It is the view that God can work the spiritual through the material" [Staples, 63]. This vision of the world calls for a renewed emphasis upon the material. Perhaps, this sacramental vision will lead to a genuine spirituality grounded in the ancient practices of the Church and not the subjective aspiration of isolated believers. Staples voices this vision in the following:


The sacramentalist knows that everything we are and have on this pilgrimage from womb to tomb belongs to God. We are but stewards of whatever portion of planet earth's crust has been entrusted to us. Idolatry is not something that only the ancient Canaanites practice; we engage in it whenever we forget that everything we have is a gift. One function of sacraments is to help us remember. In short, baptism and Eucharist, when all their remarkable nuances are appropriated by the religious imagination, stand as sentinels guarding the priceless treasure of the created world whose essential goodness was declared by the Creator himself in the very beginning [Staples, 114].


According Robert Jenson, "Yet true membership in the church is a sign visible only as the baptism that signifies it. That I am numbered among the elect is visible only as my washing in the triune name; no amount of church activity will make it certain nor any amount of vice quite certainly disprove" [The Works of God, 252].


According to Staples five interrelated but distinguishable means present themselves for baptism:

  • It is the mark of our inclusion in the new covenant that Christ established.
  • It is the symbol of our identification with the death of Christ.
  • It is the symbol of our participation in the resurrected life of Christ.
  • It is the symbol of our reception of the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of Christ.
  • It is the action through which we are part of Christ's body, the Church.

Biblical Material

The practice of baptism is highly significant in the Bible. Part of the significance is tied up with the confession of the risen Savior. Baptism is administered in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38; 10:48; 8:16; 19:5; 1 Cor. 1:13- 17).


The ministry of John the Baptist is important to the NT understanding of baptism. His baptism was closely related to proselyte baptism. Some have asserted that it was the same thing, but important differences existed. In proselyte baptism the rite is self­ administered. The baptism of John was administered by John to others. The proselyte baptism was only for gentiles, while John baptized both Jews and Gentiles. Proselyte baptism was more ceremonially oriented, while for John the emphasis was on morality. John was conscious of bringing in a new age for he took up the moral fabric of the prophets and the Messianic hope and welded them into a combination that has profound significance for the Christian faith.


Throughout history, the theologians of the church have understood the importance of baptism, Barth says, "Baptism testifies to a man that this event is not his fancy but is an objective reality which no power on earth can alter and which God had pledged Himself to maintain in all circumstances" (The Teaching of the Church Regarding Baptism, 9). He says further, "Its potency lies in the fact that it comprehends the whole movement of sacred history" (10).


Baptism has traditionally been administered in a threefold manner. The Didache says, "Baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". A little later we read Justin Martyr saying, "For in the name of God the Father and the Lord of the universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they receive the washing of the water" (The First Apology of Justin, 183). Martin Luther agrees, "we are thrust into the water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost" (Treatise on Baptism, 56). This bases the meaning of baptism in the Godhead and locates the source of salvation history.


The practices of the Christian faith are visible habits that engender faith. The sacraments are means of grace, that is, through them we receive the gift of grace. Baptism is the name given to the practice of the Christian faith. The practice of baptism relieves the Christian from reducing life to willing.


Next week we will look at the other instituted sacrament of the Church of the Nazarene - The Lord's Supper.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Communion Bread Recipes

The previous post has been up -- and dormant -- for awhile. Here are a couple of communion bread recipes I have received, that you all might enjoy.


CAESAREA THINS

1 ½cups Warm Water
3Tablespoons Oil
3tablespoons Honey
1Tablespoon Salt
¼cup Buckwheat Groats or cracked wheat
3 ¾to 4 cups Unbleached flour

In a bowl mix the first five ingredients together. Add half of unbleached flour and beat well. Mix in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that will clean the sides of the bowl and can be gathered into a ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead 10 minutes.* Divide into four pieces. Roll each piece out as thin as possible and transfer to an ungreased cookie sheet. Use a pizza cutter to score the shapes and sizes you want (I personally make the strips about a 1/4 wide by 1 1/2 inches long).
Bake in a preheated 375degree F. Oven for 3 to 5 minutes or until the edges are brown.

Best wishes - in Christ,
Roger Hahn


+ + + + + + +


LUTHER SEMINARY COMMUNION BREAD

Sift dry ingredients (important!) together three times:

2 c whole wheat flour
1 c white flour
1 & 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 & 1/4 tsp salt

Stir in 4 tsp oil. Set aside.

Mix wet ingredients together until dissolved:

3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp very hot water (minimum of 180 degrees F)
3 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp molasses

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well. Dough should be slightly sticky. Do not knead.

Divide into four balls and flatten each into a 1/4 inch thick disk.

With a knife, score the top of each loaf into eight pie-shaped sections, so that the sections can be more easily broken off while serving. Alternatively, you could score a cross onto the loaf.

Lay the loaves on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and brush the tops of the loaves with oil. Bake an additional 5-8 minutes. Let cool.

Yield: four 8 oz. loaves. Each loaf serves 60-70 people, depending upon the size of the piece given. The loaves freeze well.


Friday, March 04, 2011

John Wesley and Apostolic Succession


One of the "controversial" claims made by the Rev'd Dr Peterson at M11 was that only ordained clergy can/should consecrate the elements. This came up today in a conversation I had with a friend of mine who is a student at Neshota House Seminary. His argument goes something like this:

1) Wesley understood that the church, to be the church, must have the sacraments;
2) Wesley understood that to have the sacraments, the church must have ordained priests;

3) Wesley understood that to have priests, the church must have bishops in Apostolic Succession to ordain priests.
4) When the church would not send bishops, Wesley was faced with a dilemma: (a) don't have the sacraments; (b) allow lay-persons to consecrate the elements; (c) appoint Methodist "superintendents" to ordain clergy so their can be a priesthood to consecrate the elements.

5) Wesley chose (c) and engaged in theological/exegetical gymnastics in order to get around Apostolic Succession in order to provide a priesthood in America to celebrate the sacraments.

Follow?

6) The end result of Wesley's breaking of Apostolic Succession is the loss of a Methodist priesthood and ultimately a loss of a truly sacramental church.

Here is his final claim:

7) If Wesley would have been able to foresee the result of his circumventing of Apostolic Succession, he would not have done so.

His argument is quite interesting and could be discussed at a number of points (please feel free to do so). My questions regard his conclusion: Is #6 a fair critique? Did Wesley's move away from Apostolic Succession (in the Traditional Anglican/Catholic/Orthodox understanding) lead ultimately to the present state of sacraments in the Methodist churches? Do you think Wesley would have done things differently at this point if he had it to do over again? Why or why not?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

Rev. Brent Peterson PhD on "Worship & The Sacraments"

Here's part one of the video I shot of Brent's M11 session (which actually picks up about half way through the formal part of his presentation - I was about 20 min. late due to a lunch meeting).


Any comments on this, other than unbridled support and agreement?!  Let's discuss.  There's already been some lively discussion over at NazNet.

As soon as it's finished uploading, I will post the Q & A, which is where he made some of his most provocative points (perhaps not too provocative to those who frequent this blog, but to some they would be).

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Items of Interest

Just a few random updates I thought I'd share (since I've lapsed back into being a lousy blogger lately):
  • If you're coming to the M11 Conference in Louisville, Kentucky next Monday-Wednesday, be sure to drop in to Brent Peterson's session on "Worship and the Sacraments" on Tuesday 2/22 at 2pm (session 2 in room 218). I'll be the guy (or one of the guys?) sporting a bowtie and will look forward to connecting with some liturgical/sacramental Nazarene friends after Brent's session.
  • I'd also like to have some extended conversation over dinner Tuesday evening (venue TBC) - our own informal "learning conversation" as it were. One thing I would like to discuss with those present is trying to put some flesh to the idea of some kind of retreat/gathering/conference/symposium. If sufficient interest is there, we'll start planning for 2012.
  • If you haven't checked out the Nazarene Liturgy Project yet, go get registered now. Once you've done so, vote on what domain we should register for the project in the poll on the right hand side of the page.  Some of you know that we had a go at this a couple of years ago using a wordpress blog, but it just didn't get much traction, so thanks to Michael Scarlett and others for resurrecting the effort.
  • New to the "Honor Roll" - Catalyst: A Church of the Nazarene is a new start church pastored by Jonathan Sprang and Levi Lowry, both Trevecca pals of mine. Catalyst is a decidedly contemporary in how they worship and "do church," and yet they value the Christian calendar and follow the RCL from Advent to Pentecost.
  • Check out Jonathan "CatchyLecty" blog, which I added to the blogroll and "resources" page, for lectionary based resources for contemporary worship.
  • I've been collaborating with Heather Daugherty who directs Trevecca's Center for Worship Arts on a Trevecca Worship blog and their forthcoming certificate program in worship arts. You'll want to keep an eye on the Center as it develops, especially as they put on great events like this one.
Peace to you. ~b

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ready to Surrender

As a Christian and as a pastor, worship is important to me. How we worship, why we worship, when we worship, the ways we worship, and what/who we worship are all important to me. Yet, so often these things are not important to the others I am talking to. Often times when talking about worship with pastors and leaders the conversation is reduced to "How many were there?" and "How moved were they?"

When I talk about the need for a renewed worship, people respond with discussions of transitioning from "traditional music" (hymnal) to "contemporary music" (everything published after the hymnal). Or I hear statements like I did a couple of weeks ago with a group of pastors, when one pastor stated publicly, "I actually quit going to worship for a period of time before becoming a pastor. I mean, I understood why we worshiped but I just didn't have anything in common with the church people. But now that we have a "cowboy church" I just feel such a great sense of unity."

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Being Anglican in the Evangelical Church

I was asked by my DS what it was like being an evangelical at an Anglican seminary. My response: "A lot easier than being an Anglican serving an Evangelical Church."
We both chuckled.

More seriously though. We talk about liturgy around here quite a lot. The love of liturgy and sacraments is what gives us unity. But we often talk (at least I do) in the realm of idealism. What about the world of reality? I have been working to introduce some liturgy to my congregation. We have moved to weekly Eucharist. I wear an alb and stole. We do corporate written prayers and read the Psalms responsively. But it is starting to feel like I bit off more than my people can chew.

So my question is this: what might liturgical / sacramental worship realistically look like is a small, evangelical, holiness church? My only stipulations are these:

1) Four-fold shape
2) The Eucharistic liturgy remain largely in tact
3) The liturgy ought to be the same each week

What would such a service need to look like to capture the essence of liturgy and to be accepted by a "typical" Nazarene congregation?