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Ad Clerum 4.13

Ad Clerum 4.13

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Published by frstephensmuts
Bishop Michael Gill
Bishop Michael Gill

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Published by: frstephensmuts on May 04, 2013
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02/01/2015

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 Ad Clerum 4/13 May 2013
1
 
Ad Clerum 
The Season of the Ascension Number 4/13
Dear brothersI greet in Our Lord’s most Holy Name and thank you for all the work and disciplineshown over the Easter period. As the Psalmist says,
“prosper thou the works of our hands; O prosper thou our handiwork.” 
May the fruit of your labours be seen withinyour communities as your people grow in maturity of spirit and a full knowledge of God.As we enter the Season of the Ascension, we remember that Our Lord Jesus Christ hasindeed gone before us to prepare a place for us, that where He is we may be also. It is ablessed promise, and one that gives us the Christian Hope upon which we anchor ourlives.One of the comforts available to any Christian is the knowledge that Jesus is seated atthe right hand of the Father, bearing the wounds of His blessed Passion, and constantlyinterceding for us. His glorified body carries the scars of life; he is a
real 
Saviour, and notsomeone remote from daily stress and suffering. Can there be a greater source of hopethan that for us or for our people?
 
 Ad Clerum 4/13 May 2013
2
The Priest as preacher
There are two things required of any Christian preacher, clergy or lay.The first is the primary purpose of preaching, and that is the salvation of souls by thepreaching of Christ crucified, as you have doubtless done over this Holy Week andEaster. The second is preaching for the feeding of the Flock of God with something of real substance; that preaching begins as we enter the green period of the Church Year,in the Season of Trinity.
“Whoever calls upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call onHim in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall he preachexcept he be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach thegospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” [Rom 10:13-15]
There is a balance that needs to be established within each preacher and each parish. If we batter our people with a message of salvation and conversion, week after week, wewill soon lose the interest of those who desire to grow beyond the basics. However, if we begin with matters of fasting, prayer and other spiritual disciplines, we will have
‘put the cart before the horse’ 
and the fundamental groundwork of salvation may not havebeen laid. The difficulty we face is getting through to all of our people all of the time.
 Preaching for Salvation:
I am sometimes concerned that we feel that we cannotperform this basic preaching function within a Traditional Anglican context. Nothingcould be further from the truth! We are obliged to bring salvation to all people, andfailure to do so would be to render our Priesthood meaningless. A Priest can neverbecome a mere “dispenser of sacraments”, as some have called us, as our ministry isprimarily one of revealing the Grace of God to all people. What can be more powerfulthan a man of God, in Holy Orders, filled with the zeal of the Holy Ghost for the salvationof souls? Equally, nothing could be emptier than a clergyman placating those who arewithout the fundamental knowledge of Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord.Here then is my first challenge. Preaching is not always from a pulpit; it is often in thehomes of our people, or somewhere totally ‘unchurch’. We are frequently told to
“think outside the box”;
I am asking you to think
“outside the church”!
 
 
 Ad Clerum 4/13 May 2013
3
All our Christian heroes were people at work amongst their communities, and I think wecould benefit greatly by following their example and stepping outside in search of thelost. This will need courage, certainly, and there is the risk of rejection or ridicule…..butwe have witnessed Our Lord Jesus Christ deal with both those realities in Holy Week.The entire ministry of Jesus was done on the move, engaging individuals andcommunities where they lived and worked. The churches that have shown sustainedgrowth over many years have been those engaged in traditional door-to-doorevangelism, and those who truly know the families and needs of their people.The second challenge I put to us is this. Should someone come to us and throwthemselves at the mercy of God in real repentance, how would we cope? It is a seriousfailing that many Christians would have no idea how to handle such a person in need. Asa Priest, this should be a normal situation, the leading of another to a new life in Christ,and then guiding them in the path of Christian maturity. Are we always ready to meetan anxious enquirer after salvation?There is a third challenge I lay squarely before you. Are you sufficiently familiar withyour New Testament Scriptures that you would be able to show a would-be convert theverses that will lead that person to Our Lord? The Book of Common Prayer is wonderful,and it is a treasure for our church…..but, the Word made Flesh is found in the pages of Holy Scripture. If your answer to my challenge is “Yes”, then I am pleased; if not, whathave you been doing all these years?I hope that I have been able to shake us up just a little? I urge us all to make thepreaching for Salvation the primary part of our Priestly ministry.
Preaching to feed the Flock of God:
The Apostle Paul rebukes the people of Corinthwhen he says
“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as unto spiritual, but as untocarnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with solid food; for to this time ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now were ye able.” 
 
[1Cor3:1-2]
 Here is our most difficult balancing act, to move those who have believed away from aconstant visitation of beginnings, into a situation of mature Christian growth, and thatwithout offending any who have come to worship. Part of this process is moving thepreacher himself, for if we are not careful we can find ourselves stuck in a
Repent!
 
Repent! Repent!
cycle of preaching. This change of focus will require a thoroughknowledge of our people, and consummate skill in both our preparation and address.What are the things that one would need to address in order to facilitate this‘movement’ from child-like Christianity to a robust life of Faith that is able to withstandthe assaults of the world, the flesh and the devil? Let us explore just a few together:
 
Developing within our people a rhythm of daily prayer and Bible study, and theemphasis of the importance of a ‘quiet time’ with God. I should imagine youwould have to supply reading material – it is readily available.
 
The emphasis upon regular worship, and in particular partaking of the Sacramentof Holy Communion. Exposure also to Prayer and Bible Study Groups.
 
Understanding what Holy Communion is and does for the believer. This wouldinvolve teaching Masses on the Sacraments.
 
The need, not only for repentance, but for a ‘new creature’ to emerge, free fromold sins.

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