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The Sign of the Cross – renewing another ancient practice

“In all our travels and movements, in all our coming in and going out, in putting on our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting our candles, in lying down, in sitting down, whatever employment occupies us, we mark our foreheads with the sign of the cross…”  (Tertullian)  The sign of the cross is another of those ancient spiritual practices that many (myself included) have picked up like the proverbial baby that was thrown out with the bathwater.  To read more of the history and meaning, check out this web article from Christianity Today by Nathan Biersma.

Why Do They Do That?

Great feedback from the teaching Sunday, March 4. The church is to be a “missional community” that practices the love of Christ in an authentic way.  Loving Jesus and loving one another will  lead to meeting needs around us. That in turn will lead to people naturally asking (as they did in the days of Chistian compassion in the  Roman plagues,) “Why do they do that?”

Two people have since told me of folks asking this exact question in response to seeing Christians taking compassionate action.  DO YOU HAVE A STORY LIKE THAT?  Let us know in ways that bring more thanksgiving to God.  (see 2 Corinthians 9)  In case you missed the teaching, it should be up on audio at the Christ Church archive page.

Resources for Lent – Prayer of Ephram the Syrian

This is an amazing prayer used through out Lent, especially by the Eastern church.  In our Ash Wednesday services, I read from a commentary on this prayer.  I urge you to read it and reflect prayerfully on it. I’d suggest beginning your daily time with God in this prayer. 

O Lord and Master of my life!  Take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk.  But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.  Yea, O Lord and King!  Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother;  for Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen

    Link to the commentary

For daily Scripture readings, see here. These are also available through the Christ Church office and website.


The Jesus Prayer

In our recent service of prayer at Christ Church, we taught a version of what is called the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Other versions would be, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us.” I have been using this prayer for several years now as a form of “praying without ceasing” – repetition that is not of the “vain” or meaningless variety (Mat. 6). (click here to see the transcript of the service.)

N. T. Wright has adapted and expanded this to a Prayer of the Trinity. Here is the article from that gives more background and suggestions for prayer. Check it out!

Also, here is a link to an article that goes into more detail on biblical basis and practice for praying the Jesus Prayer.

Scott McKnight of North Park University has an excellent blog that has tons of great theological discussions and links to many Prayer traditions that we can learn from.

What is a ‘Missional Church?’

After preaching on A New Vision of Community (October 23, ’05) I came across this excellent article that goes into greater depth on the meaning of the church as a  “Missional Community”.
So what is a missional community? How is it different from church as we know it in modern Evangelicalism? Probably the best place to begin is with a general definition. A missional community is a group of Jesus’ apprentices who so trust his brilliance and mastery of life, that they learn from him how to be like him for the sake of the world. Through this apprentice/master relationship, the community journeys together to become the fullness of God and thereby become a finite earthly expression of the infinite Tri-Community just as Jesus was in his earthly life. A missional community is about becoming by grace what Christ is by nature. As the community experiences this, wherever the community members live their daily lives, they are learning how to easily, naturally, and routinely embody, demonstrate and announce God’s life and reign for the sake of the world around them.
to read the whole article, click here.

One Sentence Summary

In a recent Christ Church sermon, I quoted this sentence that summarizes the Biblical Story. It comes from the International Bible Society paperback edition of the TNIV Bible, God’s Story.


The Bible as 6 Act Drama

We all have a need to increase our Biblical Literacy. This is more than knowledge for the head. It is part of the ongoing joy of spiritual formation – being transformed into the likeness of Christ. Fall and winter, 2006-07 is a major series to help us better see and understand God’s Big Picture – what we’re calling The Story We Find Ourselves In. The phrase is not original with me, but it captures the need to truly live in the Biblical story as a Compassionate Counter-cultural Community. We will teach the Bible as a Drama in Six Acts: Act 1 – Creation, Act 2 – “Fall” or Rebellion, Act 3 – Israel, Act 4 – Jesus, Act 5 – The Church, Acts 6 – The Renewal of all things.

A great book to study along with this series is one I used for the class I taught at URI – Biblical Thought.  The book  is The Drama Of Scripture. This link will take you to a helpful website where the authors have posted articles and resources to get the most from the book.