My goodness, when it rains it pours! I feel, at the moment, like I’m running to keep up with all the good things the Lord is sharing with us! There are so many “irons in the fire” right now – and each of them, when taken together, seems to be an integral part of what the Lord is leading us to do. As we look at ways in which to become a more deeply intentional community and to reach out with the love of Jesus – ministering to both the spiritual and corporal needs of those around us – my heart is bursting with joy!
So, let me give you an update on where things stand – following conversations with many of you, with a special brother beyond our community, and with the Lord (in my prayer times and in my holy reading)…
Saturday Evening Mass followed by Bible Study or a Chapter Meeting: Having spoken and/or heard from nearly everyone, I do believe it’s time to begin a trial period of celebrating Mass on Saturday evenings. I propose that we begin doing so on Saturday, March 9 at 5:00pm. This will be the first Saturday in Lent. I also propose that the trial period extend all the way through Lent and Holy Week, ending with The Great Vigil of the Resurrection on Holy Saturday.
As I’ve mentioned before (if we decide to continue permanently with Saturday evening Mass), this will allow us to do the following:
1. Gather for a community meal following Mass – a meal which we can use to offer hospitality to people outside of MAMA Church and which we can use to help build a deeper sense of community within MAMA Church.
2. Following the community meal, we can engage in Bible study or a Chapter meeting (all will be invited to attend, whether or not they are participants in the Companions of Mary and Martha – more on the Companions below).
Ministry to Unexpectedly Expecting Single Moms and Dads: Since it is no longer sufficient (and has never been pleasing to the Lord) to simply curse the darkness, it’s time to start bringing the light of Jesus into the present darkness! One of the ways that we can bring tangible light into our community is by ministering to the spiritual and corporal needs of expecting mothers who are at risk for choosing abortion and/or feeling alone. Likewise, we can bring tangible light by ministering to expecting fathers who have no idea what it means to be either a father or a mature man.
We can accomplish this mission in two ways (both of which are equally and urgently needed): First, through elbow grease and sweat equity, we can gather a “pantry” of baby and household items that these unexpectedly expecting parents will need. In this way, we could become the reason they might choose life over abortion! Second, our “pantry” can be linked to engaging with them in mentoring, Bible study, and discipleship. Not only can we help them to choose life, we can help them choose abundant life in Jesus Christ!
To this end, I have begun conversations with Deacon Georgette Forney at Anglicans For Life. She is helping me to locate parishes that are doing similar things, so that we don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Also to this end, we will need to seek out brothers and sisters in Christ in other local congregations who will be willing to join us in this ministry. There will be plenty of work to do, and The Companions of Mary and Martha will need help!
I’m beyond ecstatic to share with you that our friends, Rabbi Rod and Jenny Eisenberg, will be making themselves available to advise us in this type of ministry. Additionally, Rod shared with me today that the Board of Baruch Haba Messianic Congregation in Lexington would like to find ways of helping us in this ministry!! The Lord truly provides!
The Creation of The Companions of Mary and Martha: I’m also excited beyond measure about both the interest in and possibility of creating a monastic community at Bethany House! As you know, I’ve begun reading Rod Dreher’s book “The Benedict Option” and am looking within it to see how other Churches have answered the call to create a more intentional community of discipleship. I’ve also been reading the Rule of Saint Benedict, the Rule of Saint Francis, and the Rule of The Company of Jesus.
I’m interested in us pursuing monastic community because I firmly believe that what the secular world needs now more than ever is Christians who are deeply formed in their faith – more deeply formed than what Sunday attendance will ever be able to provide. So, what will this entail? Well, it will develop as we go, but the basic Rule of Life will include these things:
1. Praying the Daily Office (by praying at least Morning and Evening Prayer or by praying either Morning or Evening Prayer with Noonday Prayer and Compline);
2. Earnestly participating in the mission of the community (to the extent possible – but some kind of active participation will be required);
3. Earnestly seeking the Lord’s will in creating your individual Apostolate (ministry) and then engaging in that Apostolate on a regular basis.
4. Coming together as a community (outside of Mass, in a Chapter meeting – perhaps every other Saturday evening, with Bible study on the alternate Saturday evenings) to share updates with each other, to receive encouragement and prayer for each other, and to receive teachings concerning the Rule of Life and our monastic mission.
How Do We Get Started? Well, I think that we’ll need to gather for a retreat or two. I would like to offer a retreat with Rabbi Rod and Jenny regarding our ministry to unexpectedly expecting moms and dads. I would also like to include material gleaned from Anglicans For Life and other Anglican parishes in this retreat. But even before that retreat, here are some things to be praying for/about…
1. That the Lord will give us favor with local (and beyond) merchants/stores – in terms of donations of baby and household supplies;
2. That the Lord will begin calling those – from among us at MAMA Church and from among those in other congregations – who can serve as mentors and/or Bible study leaders;
3. That the Lord will direct us to the mentoring and Bible study resources to be used in this ministry.
I would also like to offer a retreat for those who are interested in making a commitment to join The Companions of Mary and Martha! I would like this retreat to focus on listening prayer – hopefully engaging Rebecca White from Apostles Anglican Church in Lexington. I would also like each of us to be preparing for this retreat by engaging in holy reading – perhaps “The Benedict Option” and other books and resources.
And now for this week at Bethany House: We’ve got some good stuff coming our way!
1. Bible study on Thursday evening at 6:30 – John 5:1-15; and,
2. Mass on Sunday at 10:30am.
Also, if you would like a copy of this week’s “Our Life Together” just send us an e-mail. I pray that it will be a wonderful blessing to you! Until we meet again…
Praised be Jesus Christ!