Written by Fr. Dale Minor - The Reclaim Ministry
Okay, I admit it, I am a bit discombobulated. I had plans for this morning. This is the day I meet with a small group of men for breakfast. We don’t do much; we are old men, and we mostly eat and tell stories about the way things used to be, while embellishing them a bit to make our adventures seem more exciting than they were. But, this is our ritual it is what we do. Then, the governor of our state has the nerve to order a shutdown of all restaurants. What a terrible disaster, a wrong, an affront, … okay it is an inconvenience at best.
For a few weeks now, I have been watching things unfold in our country as the news about the COVID-19 virus spread, and I perceived that the news media and politicians were using fear tactics to sway public opinion one way or another and it angered me. I kept remembering the warning from President Franklin Roosevelt at the start of World War II, -- “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” -- and believed that we were seeing a real demonstration of that truth. And I still believe it to be a fair warning for this time.
But as I have also watched and experienced the words and actions of the citizens of our country, even those in my immediate surroundings, I am dismayed by the level of intolerance we have for one another, and our totally out of balance reaction to what has really, for most of us, been nothing more than an inconvenience. So we have to stay home a bit more. How many of us have hoped and prayed for a day off, a day which was not full of planned events? So, we have to skip a couple events we would have liked to have attended; so we have to endure a little slower pace. How many of us have begged for “just a little peace and quiet?”
Now, I know I am preaching to the choir here, as I am having just as much difficulty, and at my point in life, the truth is that I really have very little I absolutely have to do. I have all the food and supplies I am going to need for a while. I have heat and water and all these electronic gadgets that allow me much more access to the world than I either need or want. Yet I am fighting the dis-ease of being inconvenienced, of not being able to do what I want, when I want to do it. You see, it is really about pride. It is about the pride of thinking we are in control, that we able to direct our every situation in every moment.
But look around at the panic that is going on. Just visit a store, any kind of store, and see the results. People are panicking over a bare shelf in a store. AND NO ONE CAN CLAIM TO BE IN CONTROL WHEN THEY ARE IN A STATE OF PANIC.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-8)
Most likely you are familiar with this scripture. It may be among your favorites. It is just one of many which calls us not to worry about the matters of the world, but to put our trust in God. If nothing else, once we engage in an exercise of prayer and supplication to the Lord, we will find it very difficult to remain upset by the these mostly very minor
interruptions to our routines, and perhaps even find in them an opportunity to do some of those little things that we always said we were going to do someday. Maybe today, is your “someday?” Give thanks for the opportunity this is presenting you.
Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. “ (Mt. 11:28)
Written by Archbishops Ben Kwashi and Foley Beach
GAFCON Chairman Archbishop Foley Beach and General Secretary Archbishop Ben Kwashi issue a call to prayer and fasting for this Sunday, 22 March, interceding against the spread of COVID-19 across the globe, swarming locusts in East Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, and famine and hunger in regions of Africa.
In these days where global fear and anxiety are on the increase due to the pandemic spread of the Coronavirus, and the exponential growth of locust swarms and famine, we look to our Sovereign Lord God for refuge, consolation, intervention, wisdom, cure, and provision.
We know from Scripture and experience that God acts differently when we pray. We believe that He not only hears our prayers, but that He uses people like our leaders, scientists, and medical professionals to accomplish His will. We pray that God would grant them wisdom, insight and strength in these coming days. We pray that in this time, people will call on Jesus in their pain, suffering and worries and find the rest and hope that only He can provide.
We call on Anglicans around the globe to join together in the Holy Spirit, in prayer and fasting this Sunday, 22 March 2020.
Let us pray and fast for our nations:
“Return to Me with all your heart,” says the Lord, “with fasting, weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts, not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Who know whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him. Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast.” - Joel 2:12-15
Let us pray:
Eternal God, whose son Jesus Christ bore our grief and carried our sorrows, hear us as we pray for those in distress:
the hungry and the homeless;
the incapacitated and the handicapped;
the mentally afflicted and depressed;
the sick and the dying;
the aged, the lonely, and the bereaved.
Help us, O Lord, who offer these prayers, to bear the sufferings of others as we seek to minister to them in your name, demonstrating your love and bringing your grace to bear in their lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Increase, O God, the spirit of neighborliness among us, that in peril we may uphold one another, in suffering tend to one another, and in homelessness, loneliness, or exile befriend one another. Grant us brave and enduring hearts that we may strengthen one another, until the disciplines and testing of these days are ended, and you again give peace in our time; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. BCP, 2019 #44, page 659
Faithfully in Jesus Christ,
Archbishop Foley Beach, Gafcon Chairman
Archbishop Ben Kwashi, Gafcon General Secretary
Written by Archbishop Foley Beach - Anglican Diocese of North America
A letter from Archbishop Foley Beach calling for a day of prayer and fasting regarding COVID-19.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The President of the United States has called the nation to a day of prayer regarding the coronavirus this Sunday, March 15.
As a Province, let us join in this effort, whether from Canada, the U.S., or Mexico.
This Sunday, let’s pray and fast for our nations:
Let us remember the words God gave to Solomon:
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV)
In Christ Jesus,
The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church in North America
Written by Kathryn Kircher - Heartland Church of Fort Wayne
“Isn't this the One who opens blind eyes? Why didn't he do something to keep Lazarus alive?" (John 11:37 The Passion Translation.)
Those nasty "Why?" questions. I'd stopped asking them. I had decided it was an expression of trust in God if I didn't even go there. I figured it would be better just to accept what has happened—I wanted to avoid making accusations like the one Lazarus' friends expressed here. Besides, there seldom seems to be an answer. . . . at least not one I can comprehend. These "Why?" questions seem so fruitless.
. . . and futile.
. . . and painful.
So when my friend, Judy, passed away a couple of months ago after a dreadful battle with cancer, I didn't let myself entertain the "Why?" questions, even though her death took me by surprise. I really thought she was going to beat this thing and return to the grace-filled, fruitful life of compassion that she was known for. But I didn't want to sound like Lazarus' friends, so critical and reproachful. So my "Why's?" went unasked.
But then I remembered: just a few verses earlier, Jesus had clearly told His disciples what was going on. When they thought Lazarus was just sleeping, He told them straight out: "Lazarus is dead. And for your sake, I'm glad I wasn't there, because now you have another opportunity to see who I am so that you will learn to trust in me." (vs. 14-15 TPT)
It struck me: What if I've been avoiding the "Why?" questions when Jesus actually wants to share some insights with me like He did with His disciples here? What if He is actually providing another opportunity to “see who He is” and extending an invitation to “learn to trust in Him.”
We’ve all got our own “Why?” questions. And maybe it's actually okay for us to ask them. Maybe the process of asking and listening will draw us deeper into Jesus' heart as we seek to grasp some of His motivations. Maybe we'll actually get some answers—and possibly even some peace—in places where we’re unsettled. We’ve all got our "Why's?" and Jesus doesn't seem to be offended by them. In fact, He's probably glad that we’re asking—that we want to hear what's going on in His heart.
So let’s ask.
Is there something that's going on in your life that just isn't making sense? Have you experienced a painful loss recently? How do you feel about asking Jesus the hard "Why?" questions? Is He extending an invitation to you to ask Him some of these questions?
Thank You, Lord, that You welcome us to ask our “Why?” questions. We’re grateful for the invitation to wrestle with you about the things that trouble our hearts. Please help us to see who You are and trust You a little more in the process. Amen.
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - The Reclaim Ministry
As we enter into this first week of the Lenten season in the church, we may find that many Christians, indeed many churches, are tempted to ignore this most important season within the ecclesiastical year. There are many reasons why this may be true but I suspect that one major cause is that we just don’t want to be reminded of the ways in which we have given in to temptation and of our need to repent.
Temptation is a fact of life. It has been from the beginning. Genesis 3 tells the story of how Satan, having entered a serpent, tempted Adam and Eve to the point of establishing sin as a fact of human nature. Yet being tempted, in itself, is not the sin. The sin comes when we entertain the temptation. It comes as we
cooperate with our enemy by grasping ahold of the tempting item or situation.
In truth, we not only grasp for things tempting but we seek them out. The entertainment world survives on our desire to pursue the temptations in our lives. In fact, the economy of the world runs on the knowledge that we can and will be tempted to buy and possess anything which can be presented to us as “must have”, must do, must see, and must try.
Yet, God’s word fully explains the nature of the temptation; that its overriding purpose is to destroy us. The Apostle John explains sin as existing in three basic forms. “For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. – is not of the Father, but of the world.” (1 John 2:16)
Two direct and major encounters God’s people have had with Satan in the Bible involve these three temptations. In Genesis 3:6, Satan presented a counterfeit description of that which God had said was forbidden fruit, persuading our first parents that the fruit was “good for food, (lust of the flesh) pleasant to the eyes, (lust of the eyes) and able to make one wise.” (the pride of life.) Then, in Luke 4:1-13, there is the story of how Satan chose a time, when Jesus was fasting in the wilderness, a time when he thought the Son of God would be most vulnerable and promised him three things. “Food, “turn the stone into bread, (lust of the flesh) promised him authority over all the kingdoms of the world, (lust of the eyes) and tried to persuade Him to demonstrate His power by throwing himself down from the pinnacle of the temple.” (pride of life.)
While these temptations worked on Adam and Eve, they did not work on Jesus. Satan has not given up; he daily works on God’s people using the same three methods as John had stated and he has found ready participants in all people, even in God’s people!
Part of the problem seems to be that we like to see how close to the temptation we can get without, we think, actually succumbing to it. This is a dangerous game. All a person has to do is to hang around with those consistently tasting of the
forbidden and, chances are, they will one day stick their finger into the pie. And it can be a very addicting pie indeed.
Each year we are given this season of Lent to call our attention to the sin in our lives and to remind us of the remedy for it. We should not ignore it. Rather, we should do all we can to live the discipline it demands. It can pull us back from the brink of temptation’s chasm.