February 21, 2017
Every year on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, the Church takes a moment to pause and offer a radical opportunity to her people: the chance to confess personal sin to another person. The timing of this opportunity is no coincidence, as Ash Wednesday begins the penitential journey of Lent and Good Friday ends it. However, it can be hard to understand the value of verbally confessing something you're ashamed of to another person, especially since we're given the opportunity every week to confess directly to the Lord through our Sunday liturgy.
The answer lies in the understanding of confession as a sacramental act. Like the sacraments of baptism and Eucharist, confession is meant to take us straight to the cross, where God's justice and mercy become one in the death of Jesus. When we stop and confess our sin, we give proper weight to the grievous hold it has on our hearts, minds, and bodies, and admit ourselves guilty in nailing Jesus to the cross. But immediately after that acknowledgment comes the assurance of forgiveness as we hear Jesus say, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). After we confess our sins, we stand free in the gift of the Resurrection: freedom from being slaves to sin and healing joy in living life with Jesus.
You may note that there is nothing new or surprising in this process for a believer. This is, in fact, the fundamental arc of faith: the realization of our sinfulness and desperate need for Jesus, and the receiving of his forgiveness through the cross. What is unique to confession, however, is the embodied act of confessing sin to another person.
When we stop and verbalize the sins that act as stumbling blocks in our walk with the Lord, we break one of Satan's chief weapons against us: isolation. Satan knows that we are the most vulnerable when we are alone with ourselves, stuck in sinful patterns and too embarrassed to admit them to anyone else. He whispers in our hearts that if anyone else knew the awful things we do or think or feel, they would reject us. Sometimes he even convinces us that Jesus will reject us if we admit the extend of our guilt to Him.
When you break that isolation and speak out loud the sins that weigh you down to someone else, healing flows in. The pastors who hear your confession are not there to judge and condemn, but rather to proclaim Christ's forgiveness in an embodied way. This embodied, concrete experience of repentance and forgiveness ministers more deeply the blessed assurance of the Gospel: that your sins truly are forgiven by the power of the cross, and that you can walk in the dignity of being a beloved son or daughter of Christ.
This is why the Church offers confessions on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. It is an opportunity to expose the sin that so easily entangles us within the community of the body of Christ, all the better to receive the fullness of our freedom in Christ on Easter Sunday.
Go to this webpage for more details about making confession on Ash Wednesday.
January 18, 2017
Dear Resurrection Parents,
Bishop Stewart: As you heard on Sunday, we are beginning a sermon series titled Fully Alive: A Pastoral Call to Identity in Jesus, that will run for six weeks from January 22–February 26.
This series will address topics of manhood, womanhood, sexuality, marriage, and celibacy. As we teach, sensitive subjects such as the human body, same-sex attraction, masturbation, pornography, married sexuality, and more will be mentioned in our sermons.
You may be wondering what this series means for your family on Sunday mornings during the next six weeks. If your child is 12 and older and has an introductory understanding of sexuality, we think that most of the sermons would be appropriate for them. There are two sermons which could prove unsuitable for middle schoolers: a sermon on same-sex attraction on February 12, and the final sermon on February 26 that will deal with married sexuality. As you will see below, we are providing an alternate Sunday option for our middle schoolers on those two Sundays (11am service only).
Below, Children’s Pastor Carole Seid and Youth Pastor Will Chester provide age-specific guidance for your children.
What this means for RezKids
Carole Seid: For the entirety of the next six weeks, I strongly recommend that your children (0-5th grade) attend Sunday morning RezKids ministries, which run until the Offertory. The Fully Alive sermons are geared toward adults, and our preachers will be speaking candidly about human anatomy and sexuality, which will be sensitive for children.
Beyond utilizing RezKids ministries on Sunday morning, we are offering an amazing opportunity for our parents as we engage these topics as a church:
Christian parents are the most important sex educators of their children. I urge you to attend an upcoming free seminar with Dr. Stan Jones, a nationally recognized expert on psychology and human sexuality. I cannot emphasize enough what a rare and rich opportunity this will be for you as parents, and one that may not become available again for some time. We will be providing childcare for ages 0-5th grade,in order to make this seminar available to everyone. (Please RSVP to this event here.)
The seminar is titled: “Sex Education in the Christian Family: A Lifelong Approach To Shaping Your Child’s Sexual Character.” Dr. Jones and his wife Brenna have published a five-volume set of age-appropriate books on Christian sex education with combined total sales of over one million copies.
The purpose of this seminar is to begin to equip parents to shape their children to make wise, godly decisions in the area of sexuality. Our goal is to help our children become the kinds of spiritually mature adults of integrity who manifest godly moral character and, whether married or single, can have loving, deep, and mature family and friend relationships.
Beginning at 4:15pm, Dr. Jones will also be soliciting parent feedback that will help guide further revisions of these materials to address recent cultural shifts regarding sexuality over the past decade. Read this letter from Dr. Jones to learn more about this opportunity.
If you have any questions or concerns about what this series means for our children, please contact me at email@example.com. I am always available to talk with you.
What this means for RezYouth
Will Chester: We understand that students will interact with the Fully Alive series in different ways depending on their level of exposure to issues of sexuality and sensitivity to cultural pressures. RezYouth will be assisting parents and youth in a few different ways:
I am always available to meet with our students if they have questions or need to talk. (If your daughter prefers to meet with a woman, we have leaders available.) Our adult volunteers are also a valuable resource
If you have specific concerns or questions, are looking for resources, or are interested in developing a pastoral care plan for your child, please do not hesitate to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to connect with you.
Bishop Stewart: Thank you for your courage in pressing forward into these important topics as Christian parents. We are honored to partner with you in the mentoring and discipleship of your children and youth on topics of sexuality and gender. We are praying for your family during this important series, and invite your prayers for us as well as we teach and pastor. We love you all so much.
Bishop Stewart Ruch III, Rector
Carole Seid, Children’s Pastor
Will Chester, Youth Pastor