Monday, May 14, 2018

The Day of Pentecost   May 20, 2018

May 27, 2018  Trinity Sunday

Sundays after the Day of Pentecost

June 2 through November 25, 2018

November 25 is Christ the King Sunday and End of Sundays after the Day of Pentecost

English Congregation Supply for Chaplain’s Summer     Leave

July 29      Alexander Salter Preach 
         Father Keith Lee Celebrate

August 5        Catherine Lee    Preach  
              Father Keith Lee    Celebrate

August 12         Scott J. Ellinger   Preach
                           The Rev. Keith Lee Celebrate

August 19     Scott J. Ellinger Preach
                        Father Keith Lee Celebrate   

Aug 26    Father Keith Lee  Preach and Celebrate

September   2    Alexander Salter   Preach
                             Father Keith Lee Celebrant

September 9        Father Barker Preach & Celebrant

November 26  Christ the King  (last Sunday after Pentecost


Pentecost is the great festival that marks the birth of the Christian church by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Pentecost means "fiftieth day" and is celebrated fifty days after Easter.
Ten days after Jesus ascended into heaven, the twelve apostles, Jesus' mother and family, and many other of His disciples gathered together in Jerusalem for the Jewish harvest festival that was celebrated on the fiftieth day of Passover.  While they were indoors praying, a sound like that of a rushing wind filled the house and tongues of fire descended and rested over each of their heads.  This was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on human flesh promised by God through the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28-29).  The disciples were suddenly empowered to proclaim the gospel of the risen Christ.  They went out into the streets of Jerusalem and began preaching to the crowds gathered for the festival.  Not only did the disciples preach with boldness and vigor, but by a miracle of the Holy Spirit they spoke in the native languages of the people present, many who had come from all corners of the Roman Empire.  This created a sensation.  The apostle Peter seized the moment and addressed the crowd, preaching to them about Jesus' death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins.  The result was that about three thousand converts were baptized that day.  (You can read the Biblical account of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-41).

Red is the liturgical color for this day.  Red recalls the tongues of flame in which the Holy Spirit descended on the first Pentecost.  The color red also reminds us of the blood of the martyrs.  These are the believers of every generation who by the power of the Holy Spirit hold firm to the true faith even at the cost of their lives.
A tradition of some churches in ancient times was to baptize adult converts to the faith on Pentecost.  The newly baptized catechumens would wear white robes on that day, so Pentecost was often called "Whitsunday" or "White Sunday" after these white baptismal garments.  Many Christian calendars, liturgies, and hymnals (particularly those from the Episcopal/Anglican tradition) still use this term.

Confirmation Sunday is the day when young people who have been instructed in basic Christian doctrine confess their faith in the presence of the church.  The key to understanding confirmation is to recognize that the faith the confirmands confess is not of their own making; it is the gift of God that He gives through His means of grace.  The Holy Spirit who empowered the disciples to preach the risen Christ two thousand years ago is the same Spirit who empowers the confirmands to make their confession.  This is why many churches celebrate the rite of confirmation on Pentecost.

Because Pentecost is the day that God poured out His Holy Spirit on Christ's disciples, the Season after Pentecost is centered on sanctification, the work of the Holy Spirit in the day to day life of the Christian.  This is reflected in the liturgical color for this season:  green, the color of life and growth.  Through the gift of faith that comes only from the Holy Spirit, Christians are enabled to trust in Christ and proclaim Him in their daily lives by service to their neighbors.  The season after Pentecost is the longest season of the church year -- it lasts from Trinity Sunday until the first Sunday of Advent.  This is the non-festival portion of the liturgical calendar during which the church stresses its common life and lifts up discipleship, vocation, evangelism, missions, stewardship, almsgiving, and other works of mercy and charity as ways in which Christ empowers us by His grace to share the Gospel with others.  


There are three "mega-festivals" commemorated in the Christian calendar.  The first two, Christmas and Easter, are well known to both believers and non-believers.  But it's possible that even liturgical Christians may not be as familiar with the third, the festival of Pentecost.  God the Father's wonderful Christmas gift of His one and only Son, and Christ's Easter triumph over the power of sin, death, and the devil would be of no benefit to us if the Holy Spirit did not give us the gift of saving faith.  Through the Word and Sacraments, the Holy Spirit gives us the power to believe and trust in Christ as our Savior.  This precious gift of faith in the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ is the reason Pentecost is the third "mega-festival" of the church and why we celebrate it with such joy and thanksgiving.

Therefore, let us rejoice in the Holy Spirit that has been poured out on all people that we may live as one with God the Father, and with God the Son.  The Holy Spirit binds us to one another and to God’s everlasting love.  The Holy Spirit sustains us daily as God’s eternal Love and Grace.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

English Congregation  2018   

Lent Year B
Lent is a 40-day period before Easter that commemorates the time Jesus spent in the wilderness. In the early church this was a time of preparation for those about to be baptized. Today it is more often regarded as a season of soul searching and repentance for all Christians when we prepare for the joy and celebration of Easter by giving ourselves an annual spiritual check up. It begins with Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday.  (The Thursday before Easter)  If you are a good mathematician you probably realize that there are more than 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday.  That is because early Christians never fasted on Sundays.  They are are excluded from the days of Lent because they are always celebrations of Christ’s resurrection.

The temptations of Christ parallel those of the children of Israel in the wilderness but how different are his responses. The children of Israel were dissatisfied with God’s provision of manna. They remembered the rich foods from their captivity in Egypt and greedily hungered for more so that their physical cravings could be satisfied. (Num 11:4-36) Christ saw his physical hunger as unimportant and trusted in God to provide for all his needs. At Massah the Israelites demanded miraculous signs that revealed God’s presence, totally ignoring God’s constant and miraculous care for them. (Ex 17:1-7). Jesus refused to test God by the use of miraculous signs. The Israelites fashioned a golden calf to worship but Christ turned his back on temptations of worldly wealth and power. Each time he is tempted by Satan, Christ deliberately turned away from the attractions of a self-centered and self-serving world in order to place God’s purposes and the outwardly focused values of God’s kingdom at the center of all he was and did.
Lent is a time for “confrontation with the false self” (Thomas Keating) when we reflect on the responses and behaviors we exhibit that are least Christ like and seek God’s help in rededicating ourselves to God and God’s purposes. This is a time for self-denial and fasting when we give up some of the comforts of our lives in order to make ourselves more available to God.
Traditionally, penitential prayer, fasting, and alms giving mark spiritual disciplines during Lent. Some churches especially in the Orthodox tradition, still observe a rigid schedule of fasting on certain days during Lent, especially the giving up of meat, alcohol, sweets, and other types of food. Other traditions do not place as great an emphasis on fasting, but focus on charitable deeds, especially helping those in physical need with food and clothing, or simply the giving of money to charities. Most Christian churches that observe Lent at all focus on it as a time of prayer especially penance, repenting for failures and sin as a way to focus on the need for God’s grace. It is really a preparation to celebrate God’s marvelous redemption at Easter, and the resurrected life that we live, and hope for, as Christians.
Interestingly the concept of spring-cleaning emerged from the practice of Lent. This was the time of year in Europe when one cleaned house – first physically and then spiritually. I love this idea of connecting our daily lives and routines to the seasons of the church calendar.  However what we “sweep out” or give up at this season should be more than food. It could be soccer or TV or social commitments. We might discuss with our families ways to give up our busyness and focus on the truly important things of God. The time we free up can be used for special prayers and Bible readings, for spiritual retreats and for involvement in local or overseas mission that enables us to focus beyond ourselves and onto our responsibility to those who are hurting and in need.

During Lent it is as though we join Jesus in his walk toward Good Friday and the crucifixion. Our self-denial is a way to enter into the fellowship of Christ’s suffering so that we can identify more fully with those who are chronically hungry, oppressed, in pain or in need.

The Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, noted during a sermon given to the Taiwan Diocesan convention that during Lent we use the religious disciplines of “Prayer, service, scripture study, and sacraments” to effect a “turn around” [repentance] during this season.  I invite all of us at the Church of the Good Shepherd’s English congregation to explore and imagine new ways/disciplines that may transform our solitary walk into one that brings us to a consciousness of journeying with Christ, ever present on our way.

     Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and Sundays after Easter

                             February 14, 2018                  Ash Wednesday

February 18                   First Sunday in Lent  
                                      "I was sinking deep in sin....Love floats!"

February 25                   Second Sunday in Lent

March 4                         Third Sunday in Lent

March  11                     Fourth Sunday in Lent    

March 18                     Fifth Sunday in Lent

March 25                     Palm Sunday
                                    Combined Service

March 29                    Maundy Thursday Agape Fest   7:30pm 
                                    and foot washing service with Combined Congregations 

March 30                   Good Friday   
                                   Service at Noon   Combined Service

March 31                  Easter Vigil    8 pm   
                                  (Great Vigil of Easter Combined Service)

April  1                     Easter English Service at  9:30 am
                                 Easter Brunch and Easter Egg Hunt 11 am-1 pm

April 8                      Second Sunday of Easter

April  15                    Third Sunday of Easter
April  22                   Fourth Sunday of Easter

April 29                    Fifth Sunday of Easter

May  6                      Sixth Sunday of Easter

May 13                 Seventh Sunday of Easter   
May 20                  Day of Pentecost