The pastoral office is one of the most critical in Christianity. Historically, however, Christians have not been able to agree on the precise nature and limits of that office. A specific area of contention has been the role of women in pastoral leadership. In recent decades, three broad types of arguments have been raised against women’s ordination:
nontheological (primarily cultural or political), Protestant, and Catholic. Reflecting their divergent understandings of the purpose of ordination, Protestant opponents of women’s ordination tend to focus on issues of pastoral authority, while Catholic opponents highlight sacramental integrity. These positions are new developments and new theological stances, and thus no one in the current discussion can claim to be defending the church’s historic position.
Icons of Christ addresses these voices of opposition, making a biblical and theological case for the ordination of women to the ministerial office of Word and Sacrament. William Witt argues that not only those in favor of, but also those opposed to, women’s ordination embrace new theological positions in response to cultural changes of the modern era. Witt mounts a positive ecumenical argument for the ordination of women that touches on issues such as theological hermeneutics, relationships between men and women, Christology and discipleship, and the role of ordained clergy in leading the church in worship, among others.
Uniquely, Icons of Christ treats both Protestant and Catholic theological concerns at length, undertaking a robust engagement with biblical exegesis and biblical, historical, systematic, and liturgical theology. The book’s theological approach is critically orthodox, evangelical, and catholic. Witt offers the church an ecumenical vision of ordination to the presbyterate as an office of Word and Sacrament that justifiably is open to both men and women. Most critically Witt reminds us that, as all Christians are baptized into the image of the crucified and risen Christ, and bear witness to Christ through lives of cruciform discipleship, so men and women both are called to serve as icons of Christ in service of the gospel.
Witt is to be commended for his groundbreaking methodology that exposes how both Catholic and Protestant theologians support male leadership by interpreting key passages in ways that esteem women as inferior to men―a view at odds with the entire canon. In doing so, Witt also reveals how this longstanding, but failed interpretative path also promotes a distorted worldview that devalues women simply because they are born female.
— Mimi Haddad ― CBE International
Theologian, ethicist, and skilled reader of biblical texts, William Witt sets forth a refreshing, intentionally theological defense of the ordination of women. One might have thought this question settled. Indeed in many churches of the enclave of Protestant bodies it is, either yea or nay. But Witt steps back to examine the scene and delineates a number of positions, kinds of approaches, and types of arguments. Witt’s ecumenical examination into the subject of the ordination of women is respectful, learned, and convincing. A creative step forward.
— Kathryn Greene-McCreight, author of Feminist Reconstructions of Christian Doctrine
church connected.Church Social gives congregations a safe place online to communicate, share information, and manage membership.
Wed, 19 December 2018
Do your church leaders want to use you or equip you? Pastor and cultural architect, Dave Gibbons, joins Skye for a conversation about the future of the church. Having experienced everything from fundamentalism, to the seeker megachurch, and urban multiethnic ministry, Gibbons has an interesting take on where things are heading. Hint—its about launching people not institutions. Phil and Skye also discuss Andrew Sullivan’s new article in which he argues that America’s new religion of “progress” is an empty shell that has made our politics worse. Plus, scientists are implanting mice with human mini-brains. What could possibly go wrong? And Phil tries to convince Skye not to learn golf.
How do you shape a community. Its clearly not just the didactic teaching.
Generation Z is looking for something authentic that engages with them. They can get good shows other places.
Is there a fallout from this model? How am I going to get people in the nursery?
There is going to be suspicion of white, non-diverse churches.
There needs to be people who don’t have charisma.
Younger people are looking for individualized, authentic, customized communities. They are suspicious of am industrialized model.
They need to be a hub, resource center. Discipleship.
Your motivation is to love them. You don’t have to worry about saving them.
People sense that their pastor is more interested in using them than in loving them.
Church planting -> People planting
Just have meaningful conversations, love them, trust the spirit
Good morning, Church. Good to be here with you this morning and experienced with you what God is doing here in our midst and to those of you that are connecting online. I trust that you’re experiencing his presence as well, and we’ll experience what he’s yet wants to do in our time together. Merry. Merry Christmas to you. I didn’t have a chance to share that with you before I trust you had a merry Christmas, then are looking forward to a great new year. You know, Jesus Christ, as your Lord, you have reason to anticipate a great new year ahead of us. I I’m really expectant. In light of what may yet be ahead of us in this year twenty nineteen, I really believe that it’s going to be a breakthrough year. I’ve had lots of confirmations that God’s wanting to break through in some great ways. In twenty nineteen Austin, bless you. And you’re going on May the Lord breakthrough ahead of you on, and I just wanted to share that on January nine. There’s going to be a breakthrough here in our county, where YWAM is going to have their first tract of ground in Lancaster County for awhile. Lambaste here in Lancaster County. So January nine, we’re going to be a part of be part of a commissioning, a time of inviting what God wants to do here through the sending ministry of YWAM, I really believe for God to come through in great ways. This morning we were challenged by the story of Daniel. Daniel lived in a dark day was not an easy day, but Daniel postured himself and the Lord through many great ways. Through the move of his holy spirit in and through Daniel, there was breakthrough. There was awakening that happened through many different experiences, through signs and wonders, beyond ability to describe that cat that catches our attention. Yet today, with fire not touching and leaving unscathed, the people of God, the lion’s mouths being kept closed signs and wonders in amazing ways that awakened even Nebuchadnezzar, the most powerful man of that day to the reality that there is a living God in the same God that shut the lion’s mouth and quieted The power of the fire is living among us. Yet today, and even yet today, as we as we hear our living post Pentecost were living in a day that the Lord was very clear that he has pouring out his spirit in our day, which I mean which I believe is, is for us to anticipate that whatever God has done through mighty men and women of God in the Old Testament, we can anticipate Just as much, if not more, in our day as we live in the day of the Lord pouring out his spirit. This morning, I’m gonna be bringing a message that has been burning in way for least seventeen years. It’s only this year that I’ve been at a place that I feel like I’ve been released to be able to, to share this this message. And Nevin and I were talking about it several months ago, and he invited me here this last day of this last Sunday of twenty nineteen. Well, in the outset of a new year to bring and share this message. As you say in two thousand won, there was a group of US leaders in LMC that we’re sensing that we need a breakthrough. We need the Lord to lead and come through in our church or we’re in trouble. We need More of what he wants to do. We did experience him in greater ways, or away is a church or in trouble. And there was a group of us to start gathering once a month as a prayer gathering. There was many seventy people that came together and you heard some of this story, but I’ll be sharing more of it because it’s still this morning. We got just still unfolding and as we gather there in the conference center, thinking about the church thinking about our congregations thinking about what God wants to do, We said, Lord, show us, Is there anything standing in the way of you pouring out your spirit again over your people, the Mennonites, over your people, the Anabaptists? You have done it before. Is there anything standing in the way of you doing it again? And as we cried out to the Lord, we went into small rooms and small groups and came back and shared our findings as we listened to the Lord and in answer to that question, and as we shared our findings, we put him up on a white board, and as we looked at it, we said, Whoa, is there something developing here that we need to pay attention to? And as we analyzed it more carefully, we we outlined it as a as, uh, an answer to our prayer that there are some strong holds over us as a church over us as a Mennonite, people over us is Anabaptist that have been affecting us, and we define these these strongholds in several different areas in several different ways.
- And one of them was a fear of sharing our faith. Way recognized that that was not true at one time of the Anabaptist people. In fact, they were so bold, so courageous and sharing their faith that they were being burned at the stake. But while there are others still sharing their faith in the midst of that happening, it didn’t shut him down and inquired him until a certain day it wore down, and we became known, particularly here in America as the quiet of the land. So we recognize that has a strong
- We recognize another stronghold as being having a fear of being too open to the work of the Holy spirit, of fear of the work of the Holy Spirit. So we pondered that one for a while.
- We also recognize the stronghold of of having a facade of peace, where we portray that we are people apiece. While we have many unresolved issues and lots of unforgiveness within us in such a way that we’re not able to to experience that realm a piece where God inhabits and and his praises come forth from as we as we prayed about this as we studied our Anabaptist history over sometime who came to this place of realizing that this fear of sharing our faith has some roots back in our old land in Switzerland, in the area of Zurich, where the persecution persisted for two hundred years and a war down. This courage and boldness in such a way, and we realized that there was never any forgiveness that was shared between the people group. So the perpetrators of the persecution and the recent and the victims of it there were they never came together. And as we sought the Lord on this, we recognize this profound understanding that’s not just true over a body of believers, but it’s true and each one of her lives. It’s true in her own families that unforgiveness is a seed bed for the enemy strongholds that where unforgiveness persists, were on forgiveness exists. It opens us up to allow the enemy to come in and established his headquarters establishes operating power in our lives. And we recognized that something has to happen in we, you know, some of the story of how forgiveness was processed there with the Lutheran Church. Their forgiveness was process with the state Reform Church, and that was quite a journey. But then we have this question in front of us. What about this sense among us? What about this? This prevalence of a fear of the Holy Spirit when we are a people that claim to be believers in the Trinity? Is that right? I think that’s our understanding of Scripture. Our confession of faith is very clear on that, that that we believe in the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. And yet, as we think about our own life and experiences, it seems as though they’re there is there is something. Maybe it’s not with you, but it’s has been prevalent across the church that we recognized in our study of the culture of the Mennonite church for for five hundred years, ever since the Reformation, the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit of believe since Pentecost and Weah’s Ah, Anabaptists were very much a part of that. In fact, if you listen to people in in Europe, they would say that the Anabaptists were really the hosts of the power of the Holy Spirits. Outpouring of the Reformation leaders of churches and the ecumenical people in In in in Europe would recognize that the Anabaptists became the host of this power of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in that day. But what would have happened, What happened, What transpired in order for a change to happen in such a way that, uh, it’s somewhat unimaginable for us today to be the people of Daniel to be expecting God, to move in our behalf in such a way that signs and wonders become part of the story, become part of the revelation to the world around us. And there’s an awakening even of world leaders to the reality that there is a living God. We’ve been serving the wrong card because the the God of Daniel, there’s a living god. I believe God’s wanting to do a great move in our day, we could be critical about what’s happening in our day, and we can look at the the political environment and we can. We can look around us in our communities and all the violence and all the of the chaos in our world today. It’s time for an awakening, and I believe that I believe, God Assume is much on the throne. Today is what he was two thousand years ago when he said Jesus into the world as there was a need for an awakening in that day. He’s just a CZ much on the throne today. I believe he desires Justus much an awakening from the people of God through the people of God. As we open ourselves up to understanding this, this reluctance in regards to the Holy Spirit that we realized was a a developing nature among us as a church. It’s not just with me, it’s not just with you. It’s been a developing nature in the life of the Anabaptist church, the Mennonites, the Army, the Brethren, brethren in Christ, those of us, that and and actually it goes even beyond that now share a little of the reason for that a little bit later. But we recognized that there is a time in his three when this changed and there was a place in history where this change took place. And as we experience the unveiling of this revelation, we found ourselves in Munster, Germany, and our I im here to share a little bit off this story with you this morning. Because our our our prayer and our our our sense of need for this to be resolved our sense for healing in regards to these wounds and Munster, Germany, we’re so important, so significant, that we had to believe and hold on for God to bring about this resolution. This is something that caught my heart over there over the last seventeen years since that prayer gathering and in two thousand, and one that gripped me with such a sense in such a passion in such a mission that I cried out to the Lord and said, Don’t allow me to be taken Don’t allow me to be taken away from this land until this mission is fulfilled because I believe that the Lord’s wanting to bring a new day to the life of his church and to break off any resistance in anything that may hold us back from experiencing what God wants to do in and through the church in our day. So the journey began and I, along with a team of other individuals, have found ourselves and Munster, Germany over the last over the last fifteen years, at least four or five times. We’ve been there praying and seeking the Lord, meeting with leaders there, connecting with the Catholics who is the issue that developed was an issue primarily between the Catholics and the Anabaptists that transpired there, and Monster I believe that the Lord wants to. Move in and threw us in our day. And I invite you to turn to Romans. Chapter eight gonna share here from versus ten to seventeen. I believe. That all of us would agree that the Holy Spirit is not meant to be feared. We know from Scripture that this is true and it should be understood in that way that Justus, we believe in the father and open ourselves up to him. Justus, we believe in his son Jesus Christ and want to create space for him. And we’re so thrilled to be able to celebrate his birth again here just a few days ago. So two, we should have the same sense of of openness to the Holy Spirit. Because we know that that he is one person as he is Father, son and Holy Spirit, there’s nothing within us. That should have resistance to what God wants to dio in and through his spirit. Let’s read here room’s gate starting first ten. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin. Yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the spirit of hammer raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal body through his spirit. Who lives in you? Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation. But it is not to the sinful nature to live according to it, for if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die. But if by the spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. Because those who are led by the spirit of God of God, our sons of God, for you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear. But you receive the spirit of sun ship and buy him. We cry, Abba. Father, The spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we’re God’s children. Now if we our children, than were Ares Ares of God and co heirs with Christ if indeed we share and his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. We believe. As Christ lives in us, His spirit is alive and living and brings life to us as a people and as the Scriptures would say here, for you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear. But you received the spirit of sun ship. I believe the gods wanting to do something today to bring new life, a new courage into us as his people, to trust him, to be able to trust him in new ways to be able to trust him, that when we go out on a mission strip that we can know that he’s going to go ahead of us, he’s going to be there. Whatever our circumstances are going that we’re going to encounter, we can trust him. He’s faithful and he and he will show us his his love and reveal himself to us in his power. And in our day today, if you’re listening to new songs that are being written today, I believe the spirit burst. No revelation of father’s heart for different times and seasons in are in the life of the church. And right now there are many, many songs that are being written that air coming through about overcoming fear being no, no longer a slave to fear. And right here we have this understanding It’s based in this understanding right here in Romans. Ate for you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear. But you received this a spirit of sun ship that I believe the Holy Spirit wants us to be an overcome er in the areas that fear wants to limit us from experiencing the greater things of God. Let’s go to our story of how I believe the Lord is wanting to break through in our lives and through the church in a new way. The story of Munster, Germany and Munsters Minster Germany is known among the Anabaptists and Man A Baptist history as the city of the cages. And this is the story as persecution broke out. Bear with me in in sharing a little bit of this history. I’m not much of a historian, but I see God at work in the midst of history That, I feel is is significant for us to get a grip on here today. And there will be aspects of this story that will be new to you in ways that I trust will give you hope, as it is giving me hope in light of what gods wanting to do in our day. But his persecution broke out in Switzerland in fifteen twenty five, and the Anabaptists were pressured out of the country as they were as they were being pursued, that they migrated north into the northern lands and particularly Germany. And as they were moving, the spirit of the Lord was upon upon them and whole cities were being swept and a baptism as they were, as many were coming to a place of new faith in Christ. And they were being re baptized. And this this movement kept moving north until it found a resting place in Munster, Germany, and Monster became the center of the bold preaching of that day. The profits of that day and I say profits. Because the early Anabaptist leaders were known as the the profits of that day. They were the they were the bold creatures. But they were also sharing new revelations out of dreams and visions that they were experiencing. And as the word was coming live in them, they were profits. I ng on the streets, observe before the ever left Switzerland. There was a prophetic anointing on those early leaders, and this was this was bring a new life to the people of Europe in that day that tens of thousands of people would come to monster. Those monster was this place where this where the where the fiery preachers were sharing. And then there’s this new freshness about what God was doing in that day, even to the point that there were thousands being re baptized on the streets of Munster, Germany. Uh, and in these early days, we’re talking about fifteen thirty one right now. These these these Anabaptists leaders in that day became so affirmed, and we’re so warmly supported in that day that they became the leaders. They they were given space on city council. And this is this is just within a year or two that they moved into this city that the Anabaptist now have have the majority of the seats of City Council in Munster, Germany. It was from it was from there that that they I saw this greater opportunity to establish there what they were seeing in in there many dreams and visions that they were having having about God, wanting to establish in this city a city of Zion, a special place even for his return. Ah, special place for the kingdom of God to be revealed. These Anabaptist leaders, many of them found themselves experiencing dreams and visions. And over over some time, they lacked the credibility of always testing this and checking this with the word of God. And there became Ah eh? No on infiltration off practices that did not necessarily align with Scripture in time that they were so zealous about establishing this new kingdom of God there. And they had their places of power in the city and and they started moving in the direction of forcing baptisms and forcing re baptised, re baptism. The leaders open themselves up to polygamy and the main leader, Yuan one Leyton, took on sixteen wives for himself to propagate this new kingdom that that they had a sense that God wanted to bring to monster. And this went on over the next year, to the point of them mandating that anyone who wanted to live in the city had to be re baptized. This was a Catholic city. So this man a decision for the Catholics that were there, and the Anabaptist leaders eventually pushed everybody out of the city, including the main, the main bishop that was head of the large cathedral. There’s a cathedral there in the city of Monster that covers probably two acres of ground. It’s that large. But this bishop that was head of that sanctuary there was was pushed out of the city, and all of those that were not accepting re baptism were pushed out of the city and it was a double moated city. It had high walls. They locked the city gates. And now we can establish this great city of Zion. The bishop of this of this cathedral was also the head of the military of that day because the church and the state were together. So he posted his military troops around this city of Munster, Germany, and over the next year and a half, he cut off their force food supply. And many of the Anabaptists starved that were in the city. After a year and a half, the head marshal of the military of the calf of the Catholic Bishops Army broke through the city. Gates came in and executed about eight hundred of the remaining Anabaptists. All except the three leaders, those three leaders, they stopped each in a cage, that four foot square, about six foot high. For the next six months. Paraded them around Europe as a message to the world, saying that if you open yourselves up to this way, the new move of the spirit this is likely what will happen to you to scare people back to the structure Church of that day he brought after six months, they were brought back to the city of Monster. They were executed in those cages and those cages were hung several hundred feet high on the steeple of St Lombardi’s Cathedral. There in Munster, Germany, those cages are still hanging there. Yet today, five hundred years later, sending a message to the world yet to all those that are looking at, look up there. Yet today, three hundred three hundred years, around eighteen thirty, that the last of the remains of these three leaders fell through those cages. As we prayed, we realize that we have some responsibility in regards to what happened there in Munster, Germany. Many writers of men tonight history have have have created some portrayal of these individuals and these leaders in Munster as not being necessarily mainstream Mennonites depends on how you look at it. You might say I might be able to find some convincing evidence of that, but the reality of it was these were crucial Mennonite leaders. Anabaptist leaders of that day. Meno, Simon’s brother, was a part of this movement. We don’t know for sure, but he may have been one of those that was executed in the city. After was taken over Meno Simon’s was very observant toe what was happened there. And as a Catholic monk, I was so drawn to the way that the spirit of the Lord was moving in Monster, that he was awakened to the reality of a living God through what was happening in the early days of Monster. What was happening there in its early days was a riel outpouring of the spirit of the Lord. The spirit of the Lord was moving there in great ways, but it became perverted and it became all came off track and miss, like what God really wanted to do and what he wanted to finish it. And and it it’s so impacted the world that that new Thor himself as he observed at Martin Luther, who was, though what was really though the the founder of the one that God used in in birthing the The Reformation. It’s Martin Luther looked on with what was happening in there and monster with the Anabaptists, he said. My church will be a church of the word on ly, not a church of the spirit. And this was likely something that was also embraced in the Catholic Church as it became embraced in many ways, even across their Mennonite church. About this question. This reservation about the work of the Holy Spirit. Somehow the enemy found a way putting a lid on what God really wanted to do through this experience. This encounter this atrocity in wind stirred Germany. We believe the Lord wanted to heal this, so we knew that there had to be a time of reckoning with the Catholic Church. So through much prayer and many supernatural developments, there was a coming together. In May of twenty eighteen as this, the bi annual convention of Catholics in Germany was hosted in the City of Monster. So there were forty thousand Catholics gathered for four days in this city of Munster. And this was a time when the Catholics, as they reflected on the history of Monster, They they recognize themselves that there was something that needed to happen with the Anabaptists. So they invited Anabaptist to be part of the discussions for these meetings in May. And out of those discussions, some of us that were on this journey for some time we’re invited two Monster. It was in St Lombardi’s Cathedral. Here’s the picture of Catholic, a Catholic Luther and too many nights. One of the many nights is Keith Flank, Bishop of Lincoln. Mr Conference, who was part of our team that was there. Keith stood in the gap for the Mennonites of this day and acknowledged, are wrong in our misrepresentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and our misrepresentation to the world of the work of the Holy Spirit. A misrepresentation of the Church of Jesus Christ. We were acknowledged this to the Catholics into the leaders and ask for forgiveness in the midst of this setting. And there was a reciprocating of that as there was expression of regret and not acknowledgment of wrongdoing from the Catholics. Even a message, even a message from the pope in regards to his regrets for the way that the Anabaptists words we’re treated and mishandled. This was This was the day that we were longing for, for four years this day, of recognizing the need for forgiveness in the midst of this journey. This journey. You go on to the next light crystal. Here’s a picture of the streets of Munster while we were there in May, and it was likely right here somewhere where we’re standing here in this street where the baptisms and re baptisms were taken place in those streets of Germany, those streets and monster. Fifteen, thirty, fifteen, thirty one. Okay, next line. How did we How did this door open up for this? For this forgiveness to happen, God has his ways of opening up doors. In two thousand and seven, there was a group of us that were invited to Germany because there was a group of leaders in Germany, these air business leaders, these air church leaders, these air community leaders that meat every meat on occasions just to come together, to pray and to seek God’s heart for the country in the nation of Germany, to pray for their leaders. And this group of individuals started wearing this burden for the healing of Munster, Germany. And they dedicated a four day period of time just to pray for this healing of this episode. The Anabaptist Catholic collision of Munster, Germany, and believing for a new day that would come out of this as that healing happened. So they wanted a group of Anabaptist to come, and they found out that there was this group of us here in the US that we’re connected with some Anabaptists in in in Europe as well. And they invited us to come to this meeting this gathering before I left for that for that conference, Elaine was along with Mia’s. Well, before I left, I got this picture of a key, and it was a skeleton key, like an old key to an old house, and I knew I was supposed to put it, put a key in my pocket and take it along with me. For some reason, I didn’t really understand why. But as a search for a key, I couldn’t find one. I couldn’t buy one. I couldn’t find anyplace that they’re available. Then I thought about one in a closet in our upstairs bedroom of our two hundred year old log cabin, and I went upstairs and look at that key and said, That’s just the one that I saw in that picture. I stuck it in my pocket, not knowing exactly what I was to do. With that. So we’re in. We’re in Germany were meaning with this group of seventy leaders were having times together. We had just visited Move Munster, Germany together the day before and we’re third into that third day. Elaine and I were ready to leave our lodging quarters to go to this meeting again for the day when I thought about it. I still have this key in my pocket. So I asked the Lord, What should I do with this key? And immediately I sense the Lord say already showed you this morning already. Told you. What did I hear? What did I miss? So I went back through my morning and I found myself reviewing my devotionals that morning and I found myself. Guess where I found myself in Daniel. That was my devotional that morning. Then in Daniel, Chapter ten, it talks about Prince Michael. And that’s where I read in my reading that morning. It was about Prince Michael. And all of a sudden the lights came on because I realized there was a Prince Michael in this group. In Germany, they have royal families. Yet in Germany, noble families that have been part of the the heritage of that country for years, and they all have their castles yet that were passed on from generation to generation. Man. Prince Michael and Princess Philippa were in this meeting and I didn’t know them. I hadn’t met him, but I knew that there of a royal family, and I knew my mission. I knew that I had something in my pocket that Prince Michael needed. So that morning we were together in a prayer time and we were We were going to join in small groups in a prayer time, and I was assigned to a small group. And guess who was in that small group? It was Prince Michael. As I went into the small group, there was a chair empty right alongside of Prince Michael. So I take my chair. After the prayer time, I introduced myself and said, I have something for you. That I sense the Lord is saying that you need this key to represent the key that you will be and opening up the way for Anabaptists and Catholics to come together for this healing. I shared with him that this key represent a closet door because we is Anabaptists. Have a skeleton in our closets that needs to come out needs healed. And this key comes from the closet door. Oven Anabaptist Leader. And I’m sharing it with you because the Lord has has a mission for you. That will be very significant. I left it with him. Continued to pray. And over the last years, our connections with Prince Michael and Philippa, his wife, diminished. And then I really felt burdened to go to Germany just last fall in twenty seventeen, at the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation, and I was in a gathering there. Then a CZ worship was beginning in this gathering of of of a naked man ical gathering of reformation, reformation, entities. Here, somebody, two people walk in through the door. And it was Prince Michael and Prince Philip. I said, Yes, this is a new day because at that time we already do that. We were invited into conversations with the Catholics in May, just six months later, and Prince Michael was going to have a key in this, and I was able to share with him about what was unfolding, and he said yes to it. He said We got it and he became a very instrumental person in opening up the doors for this healing and forgiveness to happen. Facts. Um, it was It was a matter of couple months later. We got a phone call, Our email. I believe it was from Prince Michael. He says I’m coming to Silicone Valley in California. He’s a large business owner in in, Ah, in in Germany, said Um, group. Bring a group of business leaders, the Silicon Valley to meet with the apple in the Google people, and we’d like to stop in at your house. Could we do that? So Prince Michael and Prince is Philippa showed up at her house and I was able to take him up to the door that the Lord was using as an example, how he was going to be a door opener to open up the way for what God was going to do and and there they invited us that when we come to prepare for ourselves for this gathering in Ah because there were further developments by this time of this gathering in May, he said, You can come to our castle. We can have a Mennonite gathering there at the castle for several days so we can pray together and that weaken prepare ourselves for this. This a healing ceremony in Munster that we went. We gathered at his castle for several days, and from there they provided provisions for us. So through other royal families, for us, too, be lodged in a another castle in a near Muenster during our time of this healing event. And I don’t share that to bring any any particular glory in regards to our ability to connect in this way or to have this privilege. But I share it because I believed God was so pleased, so so pleased to open up this way for this healing that he rolled out the red carpet for there to be a royal welcome into this place of all of this healing and and forgiveness as we you go on the next. This is a picture of his castle where we stayed at next line. There’s another picture of a castle where our team from the US here the A number of bishops there that were part of this healing ceremony. And three of us were Lancaster Conference bishops. Next life. We found ourselves invited to a reception there. And this is a CZ. We went to this reception. Uh, we had no idea who was there. Why we were going to this castle for a reception. This was the night before the healing ceremony. As we went in, there was a group of about seventy people there and we realised that these were city leaders of Munster, Germany. These were Catholic church leaders. These were these were priests. And and then they start sharing their story. And here we realized that we were actually standing inside. We were being hosted in a castle that was no constructed by the proceeds that the Catholic bishop gave to his head marshal of his army. This this castle was built by the head marshal of his army as a reward for him overtaking the Anabaptists people and recapturing the city of Monster. So we were there in this setting, and as we gathered around a reception table that healing began to begin as we start acknowledging our wrongs and start confessing and start forgiving each other right there in the middle of that setting next side slide, please, as we were ready to leave. After this healing ceremony, and I could share much more about developments and happenings there. But we needed a place to stay at the airport before we flew back home. They’re the Frankfurt airport and Prince Michael said, Well, my castle is right close to the airport. As you would know, you could just stay at our castle for the night before your flight departure. So we accepted that invitation. I said, there’s only one thing we will not be able to be there, but we’ll give you the key to the castle. So there was just this small group of us from the US were given the key to this castle. They said, Just take any room that you want Help yourself to any food in the in the kitchen. That’ll be fine. That night, as we retired, there was an Amish bishop along with us. As he you chose his room. He found that the lighting in the room was in his bedroom, was too low to bail to read, so he chose to take a chair into the bathroom. And as he was sitting in the bathroom reading, he heard a commotion over his head. And there he looked up as he gets showered with plaster. And here there’s a hole in the wall of this old castle right above his head and their electrical wires protruding through the wall. Really unusual kind of occurrence. Just so happened this castle’s over a thousand years old, and it happens in this moment when he’s sitting there the next morning we had a little time of worship, and he brought this experience to us, he said. I need to serve, but we need to ask the Lord what this meant and as we prayed, NASCAR Lord, the Lord said the power my power is going to break through and these old historic walls will no longer be able to hold it back. That’s a word that I believe is a revelation. It’s an indication of what he’s wanting to do. He’s wanting to break off whatever these ceilings are. That these limits that we put on to him through what he wants to do through his spirit in our day. And he wants to break through those walls that we build up and said You could do so much in my life. But you can’t do this. You can’t do that. I only believe for this and only bleed for that. He’s got, he reigns. He’s the God that comes to us in his might and in his power he comes to us through his holy spirit comes to us as our counselor. He comes to us as our comforter. It comes to us to produce the fruit within us of love, joy, peace. He comes to us to fill us with his love. He comes to us to be the revelation to a world that’s looking for answers. He comes to us. How does he come to us? He comes to us through the spirit of Jesus. He comes to us through his Holy spirit. He comes to a church that he wants to be C B, an expression of who he is through his character, but also through his power that there could be an awakening in our world. There going be awakening to the reality that there is a god of Daniel. There is a God that’s among us. There is a god of the Metzler Church. There is a God who is who is deserving of our respect and our honor. Just three weeks ago, I was asked to share this very story with the group of hungry, spiritually hungry Amish and abating north of New Holland. And there was a group gathering there for a weekend meetings that called. They called the meeting’s impact. It was impact weekend, and they want Mohr and I. There was a group of twelve twelve leaders that they invited to come and share with them through this week this weekend, a meetings, and as I was sharing there on Saturday afternoon of this experience, and as I shared of this word that came to us through this hole in the wall, it’s electric wires protruding through it that I believe that God is wanting to do a greater work, and I just started praying over this group and a start. And as individuals, there is a Aziz a start exclaiming, We want to see a new day. We want to see way, want it. We want to see these areas of walls broken, throw in ways that we can experience the mohr that God has for us. As we prayed there in that moment, we sense the spirit of the Lord moving. And it was an hour later that way you received a text from the leader’s house after I was finished praying when the leaders of these meetings came up and he, too, affirmed that guys wanting to break through and he continued praying into that. And an hour later, from his house, we got a text over the picture on that. In his study in the place where he experiences God, the study in this new house said he just finished building No, the place where God meets him over and over again. There’s this picture of wires that sprung through a wall in his study. It was behind a wall hanging on the wall hanging. Call it. Fire was burning. Brother and sisters. It’s not about a hole in an old castle wall. It’s not about a wall hanging, burning in a conservative church. Leaders study. It’s about a God who reigns. Talk about a guy who wants to get our attention. You got it. It’s about a guy that wants to awaken us to the reality that we can trust him. We need him. We don’t need only just trust him. We need him. We need strength beyond our strength. We need it for the situations and the circumstances that were encountering in our world as young people as old people, as we get a Zoe get older in the situations that we experience in those days we need, we need his power. We need his strength. And he wants to know what he wants to bring. A revelation of the fact that as we open ourselves up to him that the normal is not normal for his people. He is a god of the supernatural. He’s a god that desires to reveal himself in and mighty and powerful ways. They asked questions about who was Jesus in his day. And the re witnesses said, Well, the lame, well, the blind. See, he’s the same Jesus In our day He’s looking for a church that says, Come Lord Jesus, come and take your place in our day in whatever way we have made, We may have held him back. I believe he is. He is desirous and listening. For acknowledgement of that people. I believe that he has more for us in these last days, and we need him. And he has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and of love in a sound mind. Hey, hey, hey desires for us to come beyond being a slave to fear but received his spirit of sun ship. So what is the answer for us? What is the answer for us in overcoming this? What is the answer? I believe it is that it is in our finding our place in his son ship as his sons and daughters as his children. As it says here, the spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now we’re children. Then we’re Ares Ares of God and co heirs with Christ, I believe is we find our place. We confined that whatever the Lord has had for Christ to experience, I believe that we can know is for us. He said it was It was good that he leaves this or if he came to thousand years ago. But as he left, he said, It’s good that I leave if I do not leave. Guess what? The Holy Spirit will not come. He desires for us to allow room for that place in our lives for him to rein. We’re on the threshold of a new year. If you’re here today, there’s something that resonates with this in this with you. In whatever way that you are here, and you have even the smallest little sense within you that there’s more. I invite you to let God bring that revelation of that more to you in whatever way that resonates with you, that we have our ways of putting a little and the Lord in the work of his spirit, whatever ways we have put put, put him into a box and say, It’s all right for that You’d do that over here. But I’m not sure that I’m comfortable with you in that way. Just think about it for a moment. What that might say to the father that loves you so much and wants you to experience the greatest of victory, the greatest of overcoming strength, not only for you, but for your family, for your neighbors, because he is our answer in our day, he’s full of transforming power. Yet today he is among us to bring a new day let’s come before him here. So we open ourselves up as his children. May we be able to say no longer a slave of fear? I’m a child. I am a child of God. Come Lord Jesus. Thank you. Thank you. You have not overlooked us in our day. Thank you. That we can anticipate what you have for us. Here is a church that Metzler What? Whatever. Church. You might be a part of your here today, but you have faith for the new that God wants to do among us in this day that we could be the church that allows for a world to recognize that you are the living God, Father, in whatever way that we have put limits on you. And we have questioned the work of your Holy Spirit as we have done that as a body of believers as Anabaptists. But we say we’re sorry. Forgive us, Lord, whatever way any of us here today are able to enter into that and say I don’t want to align myself with that fear of the spirit. Lord, may you hear that cry. May you bring us to a place. Of allowing room for you for your work, wherever that path may be, wherever that path is that you lead us on. You give us the grace to trust you. Whatever might lie ahead in this next year You give us the grace to trust in your strength and the power of your holy spirit For you is your word says your kingdom is not a matter of words but of power. Lord, may you break through in my world in new ways A new way that brings life brings light and pushes back the darkness in a way that you could be seen for who you are. It’s the reigning lord working. Now you hear our prayer here today. Take us, Lord, while we say we don’t know exactly what this means. I don’t know exactly what we’re saying even as we’re opening ourselves up to this. Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness that we can trust you. We can trust you for this walk this way in this revelation of who you are so lord here today we declare. That your power will break through and these old walls, we’ll no longer be able to hold it back. Whatever those walls in our lives have some history to them. To the extent it’s five hundred years, Lord, we pray for the breaking off that breaking through that we declare a breakthrough. You know, his thoughts are coming. Two individuals minds here, right now of hopes and anticipations. Father, we invite you to bring breakthrough. May you direct us, lead us in the way that leads to break through in ways that brings you glory. For yours is the kingdom and yours is the power. And yours is the glory forever and ever and ever. Amen. Amen. Any of you feel a need for some further prayer. There’ll be somebody here that would pray with you in the front of the church after we have our dismissal, really right for you, the direction to our clothes. There’s one stands there that will sum up Not some momentarily, but it’s related to the message this morning in two hundred forty four in the red hymnal two hundred forty four. The last stand zone talks about, uh, we I can no longer fear. And I’m confident that I am a child of God. Uh, my God is reconciled. My thank you, Lloyd, for coming and sharing your heart and with God has called you to share with us. This morning, I would just repeat what Lloyd said and closing after the dismissal. Prayer benediction, David leaders in a typical closing verse of song. But if what Lloyd shared this morning has spoken to you and you would like to pursue that, spend some time together sharing and praying together or invite you Justin, meet here in the front and others Khun Congar there around and pray together and share together no further that stand for placing prayer. God, you are a god of order. You’re God of creation. You have made everything, and it is on your control. So Lord, help us. It’s your people to know what that means in very personal ways. In ways that are meaningful for this congregation, we just invite it continued work of your holy spirit among us. Lord, As we leave here this morning, may we go with that full awareness that you have filled us with all of who you are that we may be completely aware of your presence and your leading in each of our lives? Lord is not about us. It’s not about what we can accomplish. But it’s about how faithful we can be and walking with you. So go before us. Bless our ways for yours is the kingdom and the glory and the power forever. Amen.
See link in first post of discussion. Sermon begins around 41 min 15 sec. (Lloyd Hoover)
Much of the Evangelical Industrial Complex has been created to make Christianity relevant, acceptable, and attractive to our consumer culture. Author and missional expert, Michael Frost, says this is a mistake. Instead, we should be emphasizing our faith’s weirdness and call more Christians to be eccentric—literally “off center.” Also this week: Phil and Skye take on “The Good Place,” a TV show about heaven without God or religion, the UK’s Supreme Court rules in favor of a Christian baker, and (fake) butt news from a Hawaiian seal hospital.
The Bible, in its entirety, finds a balance between knowing and not-knowing, between using particular and carefully chosen words and having humility about words, even though the ensuing traditions have not often found that same balance. “Churchianity,” by its very definition, needs to speak with absolutes and certainties. It feels its job is to make absolute truth claims and feels very fragile when it cannot. Then, we followers think we must be certain about things we are not really certain of at all (which is the beginning of the loss of faith)! This is a similar predicament that politicians experience, needing to project an image of self-assurance and confidence, even though we all know they’re faking it just like the rest of us. As Marcus Borg (1942-2015) and others suggest in The Emerging Christian Way, absolute correctness is the largely impossible task institutional Christianity has taken upon itself.  Organized religion is now crumbling beneath this impossible and false goal, it seems to me.
I understand the individual ego’s and the institution’s structural need for clarity, some basic order, and identity, especially to get us started when we are young. Religion then needs a key to unlock itself from itself—but from the inside, which many call the mystical or contemplative tradition. Most successful reforms come from using one’s own internal resources to self-correct. The words “mystery,” “mystical,” and “mutter” all come from the Indo-European root word muein, which means to “hush or close the lips.” We must start with humble, patient, wordless unknowing, sincere curiosity, or what many call “beginner’s mind.” Only then are we truly teachable. Otherwise, we only hear whatever confirms our present understanding.
Without such humility, religion has cried “wolf” too many times in history and later been proven wrong. Observe earlier authoritative Church statements on democracy, war, torture, slavery, women, treatment of Jews, revolutions, liturgical forms, the “Doctrine of Discovery” of the New World, the Latin language, and the earth-centered universe—to name just a few big ones. If we had balanced our “knowing” with some honest not-knowing, we would never have made such egregious mistakes. We could always prove whatever we wanted by twisting one line of Scripture. The biblical text was not allowed to change us as much as many Christians have used it to exclude and judge other people.