Tuesday, August 23, 2016

From Inn to Church

The Ark of Salvation
Most of the times, when I read Luke 10: 23-37, I always think that the message is just about becoming a good Christian like the Samaritan. There are many layers to this passage. I would like to point out just one today, which is the place where the Samaritan took the wounded man. He brought him to an Inn. The word Inn has been defined as “an establishment that provides accommodations, food, and drink, especially for travelers.” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/inn)

The Greek word for Inn is Kataluma which means a place of lodging, where people to a break from their journey; a place to refresh; a place of comfort.

The "inn" mentioned in Exodus 4:24 was just the halting-place of the caravan. Later on, places like this were erected for the accommodation of travelers. In Luke 2:7 Kataluma is a place for loosing the beasts of their burdens. It is "guest-chamber" in Mark 14:14 and Luke 22:11 .

Now, please pay attention to this, in our gospel, Kataluma is more than just a halting place. This place, this Inn had an "inn-keeper," who attended to the needs of the travelers.

What does this Inn represent? This is what we call ecclesiology, meaning the theology as applied to the nature and the structure of Christian gathering that we call Church.

So Jesus is using this parable to teach us what the Church is called to be: a place of healing, a place of safety, a place of refreshment, a place of maturity.

Now, please allow me to quickly go over three aspects of the church as an Inn. 

1. Aspect of being a Hospital. The Good Samaritan brought the wounded man to the inn, which represents the church. The church is the hospital for sinners. It is the place where people are reconciled with God and other people. We can only answer broken relationships by developing new, healthy relationships in their place. This is why the church is so important.
2. Aspect of being a place of teaching. I used to think that the church could just give without calling people to join the church; that the church could be involved in some social projects (hospitals, schools, orphanage, etc.) I now believe that’s not the only thing the church is called to do. We cannot really help the wounded without developing relationships with them. We need to keep a bond with them. This requires a place where people can learn about God and begin to develop a network of stable and healthy relationships with God’s people. It is the place where they learn a new sense of their own identity and learn how to function more effectively in the world. This requires the church.
3. Aspect of being a place where gifts are used for maturity. The Good Samaritan committed himself to the wounded man, but he did not do everything. He brought him to the church, where the gifts of other people could minister to his needs. This shows that the church needs both external missionaries who go out and bring others to the people of God and internal missionaries, who minister to those who are brought to church. I challenge everyone of you to discern where your gifts fit into this mission.

But all this is NOT about making us happy. It’s not just about us. It is for us to be able to love our neighbor as ourselves and to do a true and laudable service to God.

Peace and blessings!

Fr. Thierry

"For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay??? (Habakkuk 2:3).

Saturday, August 13, 2016


Are You Ready For An Audit?
In five weeks we have covered several doctrines of Christian responsibility including duty, Sonship, gifts, and stewardship. This week we explore gifts of the Holy Spirit and the expectation of their righteous use.

CONCERNING spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues. But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
 “I would not have you ignorant.”  Our baptism requires more than the rite, we are charged with understanding what is expected of us as Christians. In the Apostolic age, just as today, new converts were taught to renounce the Devil and evil as well as their duties in faith and obedience.  The Corinthians had been led astray from the Apostle's teaching (1 Cor 11:2) and Paul calls them to remember Jesus' sacrifice is the high price of the gifts they received at baptism. We cannot claim ignorance as an excuse in the higher standard of the New Covenant. Let's take a closer look at what we receive and our obligation to make the best use of these gifts.

The first great gift is faith itself-- “for no man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost.” There is no higher gift and belief provides the full and best use of God's gifts. Belief is made possible by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost.

The dispensation of gifts by the Holy Spirit are divinely apportioned according to the needs of the Body (the Church). The discovery and responsible use of gifts are matters to work out among the community of the faithful. The Church and gifts have the same Source and the gifts are provided for the faithful to perpetuate both faith and Kingdom. 
There are different endowments—”diversities of gifts.”
There are different tasks—”differences of administrations.”
There are different ways of working—”diversities of operation.”
Different people according to the will of the Holy Spirit. Our present culture tends to impose an egalitarian read on verses such as 1 Peter 2:9.  Peter no way implies an equal dispensation of operations and administrations. That notion that all have the same administrations, etc., has to be projected on the text. The New Covenant did not abolish the Old but perfected it's differences of operations and administrations. There are deacons, presbyters, and the office of bishop-- administrations in context of the priesthood of all believers. There are gifts of speaking in tongues and interpretation, prophecy, teaching, and yet not all receive these gifts, but it is one Spirit that is the source... one giver of grace to all that we may serve each other and Him. 

Using an analogy of the body let's investigate-

GIFTS OF THE HEAD: “Wisdom and knowledge.”  There are those who are given special insight in each generation to use their intellect for the benefit of the body such as teachers and apologists (those that argue for the faith to the unbeliever).  Paul employed his gifts of philosophy on Mars Hill as an apologist to convince the Greeks and taught in the synagogue.  Those that carefully study history can test the soundness of doctrine as there is one source of wisdom, knowledge and grace; discerning the Holy Spirit in uniformity as God does not contradict himself from one age to another.  Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.

GIFTS OF THE HANDS: Manual labor was not beneath our Lord and he chose fishermen to be among his apostles. Working with one's hands in service to the Body is indispensable. Philanthropy, healings, building sanctuaries, are just some examples of such gifts.  Such people may not be preachers or teachers but their contribution is still vital to the function of the whole.

GIFTS OF THE HEART: Ministers, prophets, evangelists -- those that guide souls exercise the holiest power of God discerning the condition of the human spirit and the Spirit of God.  Again, not everyone has the same gifts as some are skilled in the hands and others in the head but lack gifts in this category.  Yet these gifts are for the individual only as member of the Body which is the Church. The individual doesn't receive a gift for himself but for the community of faithful.  Each person must recognize and respect the gifts of others.  Envy and coveting is forbidden as the community is working as a whole through diversities of gifts for the same Lord who will reward our labor and humility.

AND when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.  And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. And he taught daily in the temple. ~S. Luke 19. 41--

We end with the lesson of Israel abusing all that it has received by profaning the Temple- the very witness of national stewardship.  The popular happy clappy Jesus peddled on TV is dispelled with a sobering examples of compassion and judgment.

Jesus returns to Jerusalem, the holy city of peace, only to find spiritual blindness and ignorance and he weeps.  So many of God's blessings have been received by Israel and they still forget their obligations as stewards. He sees them for what they are in spite of their gilt facades and fine clothes and weeps for their spiritual poverty.  He weeps for the coming doom in a future of godlessness and the coming divisions in his Church; the vineyard we are left to manage and have profaned.
 We may not wait for the final judgment, but must be ever “judging ourselves that we be not judged.”  ~P. M. Scott
And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein.  Jesus is filled with wrath and sheds no more tears as Israel is caught unexpecting by the Master's return. There is no excuse for ignorance as the Temple is the seat of the Covenant where the nation of Israel offered sacrifices and received absolutions and its misuse provokes harsh judgment.

We must strive to make sure the Church doesn't fall into the same terrible mistake of greed and selfishness or we will face the same judgment when he returns and he won't be weeping. Imagine, if you will, that it is our spiritual blindness, forgetfulness, and poor stewardship that draws his scourge as he purifies the Church of sin. We have no excuse.

The Take-Away:

Paul's words from next week's lesson are instructive here: "for which ye received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you.."  Our adoption by baptism requires stewardship of body, spirit, and all the things with which have been entrusted to us. Being good stewards is our obligation-- our new and higher standard that encompasses ourselves, our faith community, and even our Nation.
Let's pray these scriptures that we are acceptable as persons and in our petitions:
LET thy merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of thy humble servants; and, that they may obtain their petitions make them to ask such things as shall please thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We hope you enjoyed this lesson* and will consider joining us for Christian Education at St. Athanasius next Sunday as we continue our study with 'not our sufficiency, but the sufficiency of God.'

Peace of Christ,

John Dixon
St. Athanasius Anglican Church

For further reading: Psalm 145; 147; 144; Ecclesiasticus 1:1-10; Jeremiah 26:1-7. 10-15; Genesis 32:22-31; St. John 8:25-36; St. Matthew 23:34; 2 Corinthians 4:7

Sources: The Holy Bible; *The Harmony of the Collects, Epistles, and Gospels by P. M. Scott D.D.; Ancient Christian Commentary; Book of Common Prayer; Sermons on the Epistles and Gospels by Isaac Williams.

Blog (news and archives)

(Check out our new site)