A Christmas Day video message from Bishop Julian M Dobbs
A Christmas Day video message from Bishop Julian M Dobbs
Reformation Day | October 31, 2017
In what author Diarmaid MacCulloch calls, “An Accidental Revolution,” Martin Luther spoke out 500 years ago today!
On October 31, 1517 the opening shot of the reformation was fired. The protestant reformation had begun! The reformation sought to re-orient Christianity upon the original message of the Bible: Scripture alone, faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.
We celebrate this ‘reformation anniversary’, not because 500 years is a long time, nor because Martin Luther was the herald of a new doctrine. We celebrate this ‘reformation anniversary’ because first and foremost the reformation was about recovering the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ and being passionate about the bible.
Scripture alone, faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone, to the glory of God alone remain the foundations of the Christian message to the world.
As Martin Luther came to believe 500 years ago, the Bible still insists that a transformed life is only ever possible though repentance and faith in Christ alone.
Jesus says, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11.
O God, by whose grace your servant Martin Luther, kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and a shining light in your Church, turning error into truth and arrogance into humility: Grant that we also may be aflame with the same spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light; that your Church on earth may more closely resemble your heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
The United States of America seems to be in such turmoil over so many issues:gun violence and gun control
the poor and marginalized
political leaders who are bickering with each other
international engagement with rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran
a hostile media towards anything considered to be Christian and biblically based
the place of historical statues of American leaders
All of these (and many other issues) cause such serious polarization in our society and even among evangelical Christians in the Church.
Some might ask, “Where is God amidst all of these challenges and issues?” Why does He not engage more directly? How could a loving God let so many innocent people be killed in Las Vegas? These are good questions to ask and we go to the bible, the word of God, to find the answers because in and through the bible, God speaks his word to us.
Where is God when difficulties arise?
He is where He has always been ruling and reigning on the Throne of Grace in heaven. The prophet Habakkuk asked similar questions, when in his day, a powerful force rose up against the People of God. Habakkuk said,” O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? [Hab 1:2-3].
That was quite a thing for Habakkuk to say. He was in effect, charging God with sitting on his hands and doing nothing.
Almighty God replied, “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him” [Hab 2:20]. God said that even though Habakkuk though he was doing nothing and that he was silent, He was in fact right where He should be – in his holy temple, ruling and reigning according to his time and his purpose.
To believe this requires faith in the Living God. In fact in Habakkuk’s prophecy God encouraged Habakkuk and us that “The righteous will live by faith.” [Hab 2:4].
The word faith, as a noun, only occurs twice in the whole of the Old Testament. The noun ‘faith’ in the Old Testament always means ‘faithfulness’. It is used of a husband and wife who stay together for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, until they are parted by death. The second time it is used is when Moses is praying and his hands are being held up ‘in faith’ by Aaron and Hur.
In the midst of difficulties and challenges, when God seems silent and remote remember, “The righteous live by keeping faith with God.”
The only faith that saves, is the faith that hangs on and every time this phrase is used in the New Testament it means exactly that (take a look at Romans 1, Galatians 3, Hebrews 10).
Are there other practical things Christians can do in response to the evil and suffering in this world?
Yes…. three practical things that all begin with the letter ‘P”
Christians are taught in the bible to pray for their leaders and those who govern. The liturgies of the Anglican Church have a strong heritage of regular public prayer for those in authority. Here is an historical Anglican prayers which has been adapted for us in the Anglican Church in North America:
Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure conduct. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Sometime we need to partner with other Christian and serve our communities, “with no strings attached” meaning that we take the gospel to our community through humble acts of service. This is happening all across our diocese where congregations are feeding the hungry, ministering to those in prison, caring for those in hospital and helping the vulnerable and marginalized.
The 1799 work “Sermons on Several Occasions” by Reverend John Wesley contained a homily on “The Law Established through Faith” with the following guidance, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Neither is love content with barely working no evil to our neighbour. It continually incites us to do good: as we have time, and opportunity, to do good in every possible kind, and in every possible degree to all men.
Sometimes, some Christians, will be required to petition civic leaders to change policies that are impacting our nation and the world. During the previous administration, I wrote to the president about his administration’s policy of engagement in Syria which was having a direct impact on Christians in the region, many of whom were being killed and others internally displaced. The president disagreed with my position and request, however I believe that I had been given a responsibility to raise this serious matter with him. Not all Christians can petition leaders and we have to be prayerfully strategic over which issues the church engages, however sometimes it is right and important for some Christian ministers to engage in this way.
Let us all remember, no matter where we live, that God speak to us through the bible and tells us that it is righteousness that exalts a nation.
May each of us live faithfully in the will of God, that we are salt to the earth and light to the world.
As I write this article, I am traveling across North America with the Primate of all Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh and his 10 member entourage, visiting CANA congregations, worshipping with the faithful and strengthening the ties that bind faithful Christians together across nationality and continent.
North of the U.S. border in Canada, I have met with small groups of faithful believers in remote towns and cities. In Dallas, Texas it was a joy to be received by a congregation in CANA West diocese and then to worship in Indianapolis in a congregation of the Anglican Diocese of the Trinity.
During this tour, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh met with Archbishop Foley Beach, signaling the close ties between the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and the Anglican Church in North America. Both archbishops serve the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, both are members of the GAFCON Primates Council and both are committed followers of Jesus Christ.
Participating in the relationships and observing them first hand has reminded me of the biblical concepts of interdependence and mutuality. Christians need other Christians!
Writing to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul says, [we need each other] to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. [Eph 4:12]
Paul’s word for equipping is interesting. It is the same word used in Matthew 4:21 where torn fishing nets are being repaired, again the same word is used in 1 Thessalonians 3:10 where it refers to supplying something which is lacking, Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may restore [prepare / equip] whatever is lacking in your faith. This is significant because those who belong to Jesus are all personally gifted by Him with different grace and yet, we are not so perfectly gifted that we do not need fixing up and restoring and preparing and equipping.
Christians need other Christians, and this is one of the great strengths of the Anglican Church and it is reflected in the local congregation [parish], the local diocese [CANA East] and the wider Anglican Church [GAFCON].
The fundamental declarations of CANA East underscore our mutual belief and relationship with one another in CANA East and with other faithful Anglicans around the world:
1.We are united by a common faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and a commitment to the trustworthiness of the Holy Scriptures.
2.We believe and confess Jesus Christ to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no one comes to the Father but by Him.
3.We receive the doctrine of the Jerusalem Statement and the Jerusalem Declaration issued June 29, 2008.
4.We acknowledge the doctrine of Reformational Anglicanism expressed in the Thirty Nine articles of religion and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as faithful expressions of the teaching of Scripture providing the standard for Anglican theology and practice.
These statements unite us with millions of faithful Anglicans around the world (over 20 million in the Church of Nigeria alone). But we need each other and God’s gifts in all of our lives to enable the Church to fulfill her mission to proclaim the gospel to all the world.
How wonderful it has been over the two weeks of this North American tour to experience Canadian Anglicans, American Anglicans and Nigerian Anglicans worshipping Jesus together in the renewed unity of biblical Anglicanism in the 21st century.
Christians need other Christians!
Solvitur ambulando cum deo [it is solved by walking with God].
Bishop Julian Dobbs
Thursday July 20, 2017
Bishop Dobbs announces three new regional archdeacons in CANA East.
The Venerable Richard Lafferty will serve as archdeacon of the Mid-Atlantic.
The Venerable Will Wilson will serve as archdeacon of the newly created Archdeaconry of the Chesapeake.
The Venerable Jay Cayangyang will serve as archdeacon of the North East.
The regional archdeacons of CANA East serve as the senior clergy on behalf of the bishops of the diocese. Each archdeacon has responsibly for clergy in a specific geographic region and undertakes to: pray for the clergy, spouses and families in the archdeaconry, make regular pastoral contact with each clergy person, annually visit each congregation in the archdeaconry, regularly update the bishops regarding the clergy and congregations in the archdeaconry and serve at diocesan gatherings such as installation services, ordinations, etc.
Bishop Dobbs also announced that Archdeacons Don Helmandollar and Alan Crippen will retire as regional archdeacons and serve with Archdeacons Gauss as archdeacons and advisors to the Bishops.