January 7, 2011
From the Rector’s Desk
I feel that somehow when we weren’t looking the New Year crept up on us. Things were busy with holidays, and family connections and travel, etc, and then there it was. 1-1-11. Like new numbers on an odometer, catching our attention, signaling that we’re suddenly in a new and different place, reminding us again that we’re journeying–on the move, whether we notice or not.
The second Sunday of Christmastide brought us scriptures that were remarkably in tune with this sense of journey. For those who may have still been ‘on the road’ for the holidays I want to offer a brief recap.
Jeremiah was a prophet that proclaimed both exile and return, judgment and hope. He was called to the role of prophet as a young man, and is known as the weeping prophet because of the words of repentance he had to bring to a people that were not open to hear it. He grieved over this, and tried to abandon his calling, but God’s mercy was there to sustain him. Jeremiah was complicated. I think he would have fit well into the realities of our 21st century lives.
In Jeremiah 31 he offers an ebullient word of hope to those far from home—that God will bring the exiles back, and they will know bounty and joy and dancing, and God’s presence. It’s a powerful picture to those exiled that there is such a thing as a journey home, and God himself will lead them. In response to this word of consolation they are to worship, and live as if they are already in the desired place.
”Sing aloud with gladness… raise shouts for the chief of the nations… proclaim, praise and say The Lord has saved his people, the remnant of Israel” (Jeremiah 31:7). For Jeremiah worship lies at the heart of the people’s restoration, and their negligence of it a key factor in their road to exile. Giving proper attention to the worship of God orders our journey, and gives life, power and joy to the things we are called to do for him. For us as a community, a part of Christ’s body, proper worship fills, encourages and directs us in the journey of knowing and loving God. 2011 must be a year of worship, as all years must be.
In our Gospel reading (Matthew 2:13-18) we meet the Holy Family as they flee to Egypt in order to protect the life of the young Christ, sought out by Herod in his murderous rage. Joseph and Mary had to trust God as they embarked on a journey that I’m sure they would rather not have had to make. They became refugees for the sake of the Gospel. This is a part of the Story that often doesn’t get much attention, but is very telling, and it connects us to the millions in our world who are far from home, sent into dire circumstances by war, famine, persecution, or hope for better opportunities. Teresa of Avila observed that ‘God is on the journey, too’, and will be with us in the coming year as we journey, perhaps along paths we would rather not take. Trusting God lies at the foundation of journeying well.
As we journey with God we will be called to trust. We won’t always go where we want to go—we won’t see the wisdom in certain directions and turns and detours on our journey—but like Joseph, we will have to trust.
Thirdly, we saw in our scriptures last Sunday that we don’t journey alone. Our movement in God is accompanied by all those we are in holy relationship with—our brothers and sisters in Christ. Jeremiah’s words of comfort were not to individuals but to a people—those called together to be God’s very own.
Jeremiah paints the hopeful picture of home—where those who were dispersed throughout the world will come together… and be made a people again. They will be gathered from the farthest parts of the earth… the blind, the lame, those expecting children… they will be led back home… to wholeness… they will be radiant.
Jesus knows the isolation of exile, as well—he came out of Egypt, as a refugee, brought back with his family once the danger had passed. But the Holy Family knew what it was to be cut off. It’s why these two passages of scripture speak so powerfully to each other.
When we are separated from each other, or divided, we are turned toward exile, because that’s what exile looks like. Our society divides… and we learn to live that way for self protection, not understanding that in our journey as a Christian community it will make us weak and lifeless. Our world tells us it’s a sign of strength… but it will kill our spiritual vitality. The promises are to a people—and it is as a people that we will come to the promised land… that we will come home. We journey together, or really, not at all.
If you would like to pursue this further I encourage you to listen to the podcast of the sermon online. As we journey this year, we journey in worship, in trust, and together.
It’s a great joy and honour to be with you in the Lord’s work at Redeemer. May he bless all that he calls us to in the coming months.
With trust in the Lord of the Journey,
COR@9’s New Season
For many of us, the Old Testament feels less accessible than the New Testament, full of “begats,” bloodshed, and strange rules. However, it is impossible to grasp the significance of the Gospels or the New Testament without having a good foundation in the truths of the Old Testament.
Beginning January 16th, COR@9 will begin walking through the first “half” of the Old Testament. A team of teachers, led by Professor Dana Harris, will lead us in an exploration of major themes in the Old Testament so that we might get a better grasp of the story of God and his people, the story that is now our story too. Please join us as we jump into Genesis, beginning 9 a.m. on January 16th. You might just find that you come to love the Old Testament too!
Something for the Journey this Year
Check out this new book from Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro. “Common Prayer: a Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals” brings us prayer and liturgy that speak across traditions. Here’s a brief sample:
Lord of Resurrection
may we be raised into the rhythm
of your new life,
dead to deceitful calendars,
dead to fleeting friend requests,
dead to the empty peace of
One of my favorite things in life is a story. Long car rides, sitting by the fire, or a hike in the mountains are all atmospheres that lend to the telling of stories. Over the holiday, Todd Murphy shared a story with me of how God worked in his life to bring their family to Chicago-land and to Redeemer. I’m so grateful he chose to share this story. His testimony reminded me of God’s sovereignty and provision when we can’t seem to make sense of why things happen the way they do. Stories are a way of inviting each other into one another’s lives, remembering, celebrating, encouraging and learning.
For the next few months during CoR@9 the Youth will explore the stories of people’s lives. Some people who we see every Sunday at Redeemer, but whose stories we may not have had the chance to hear. Others are the stories of ancient people, those of the Old Testament. As we study and interact with the stories of various Old Testament people, we will continually engage with the reality of the world we live in and discover how these people can speak into our experiences.
All Jr. High and High School students are encouraged to participate. We’ll begin next Sunday, January 16th. Dan Becker will join us to share his story.
Other Youth Invites:
— This Sunday, January 9th, join us for breakfast at Starbucks to hang out and catch up. We’ll meet in the youth room at 9am and drive over together.
— High School Girl’s Dinner in Evanston: We simply hang out over dinner and talk about joys, frustrations, friendships, God, and whatever is going on in life. All High School Girls are welcome: Wed nights from 6-8.
— We’d love all youth to help provide snacks for coffee hour on Sunday, January 30th
Contact Kari for more info: firstname.lastname@example.org; 847-778-8026; or Facebook
The vestry is an important group of leaders at Redeemer that prays, discerns, and provides oversight to temporal matters of the church and serves as a council of advice and support for the Rector and staff. There are several openings on the vestry to be filled at our upcoming annual celebration. Vestry candidates will have been at Redeemer for at least a year, be actively engaged in the life of the church, and in agreement with our belief and mission.
To nominate persons to serve on the vestry please speak with our Rector or one of our current vestry members.
Celebrating God’s Faithfulness
We give thanks to God and to his people as we celebrate meeting our budget needs in 2010. We’re so grateful to the many gifts and sacrifices made so that we could complete our year ‘in the black’ and look forward to continued effective ministry in the new year. Thank you for your prayers and generosity. We’ll be sharing more specific information during our Annual Celebration on January 23rd.
AMiA in the River City and Other Beginnings
While Chris Marchand and family were with us last month he gave us an update on the new work they are helping to plant in Peoria, Illinois. Next Thursday, Greg Lynn, who is partnering with Chris and Elisa in this outreach will be ordained a deacon by Bishop Doc Loomis at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Peoria. Please pray for this new mission venture, and for Greg and Chris.
We also pray for Deacon Robert Lancaster, who spent a year with us at Redeemer, and who will be ordained to the Sacred Order of Priests on January 23rd in Huntsville, AL. Robert will soon be transitioning to Vancouver , WA to serve as priest with the Abbey, a new AMiA church plant, where the leadership includes Thom and Emily Blair.
We welcome Ella Massel Truong, born on Monday, January 3rd to Jennifer and Frank Truong. Ella bounced into the world at 21 inches, 7 pounds, 13 and a half ounces. Everyone is well.
Please Pray for
— our leadership (Rector, Staff, Vestry) as they discern vision and direction for this coming year
— for Pastor Amanda as she undergoes sinus surgery on Friday
— for St. Michael’s, Bishop Mbanda and the Shyira Diocese
— Carolyn and Craig Williford (Trinity President) in the recent loss of their son