Lincoln’s Log 10-25-2020

The Law and the Gospel (Kerygma)

“‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ Jesus responded, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.’ ”
Mt. 22:36-38

Last week, I wrote that the heart of the Gospel “is not primarily about words or doctrines or laws or structures or systems. The Gospel is about a person.” Our reading from Matthew’s Gospel this week clearly makes this same point.

When asked by a scholar of the law about the greatest commandment, Jesus does not point to any particular behavior that is commanded, but rather to a person’s relationship with God. Rather than behavioral compliance, Jesus roots greatness in a personal loving bond with God. This bond affects the person at every level (heart, mind, soul, strength). Jesus interprets the law in the context of love.

What does this mean for us?

It means that everything we do needs to be rooted in an ongoing encounter with our loving God. This is the Gospel. It is personal. It affects every level of our being. It changes our behavior, not because of our own willpower, but because of the grace of God given to us in Jesus. We do not initiate this relationship. “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins” (1 Jn. 4:10). We are called to respond to this invitation to a new way of life.

St. Augustine famously said, “Love God, and do what you will.” As we respond to the loving invitation of God to new life, we are transformed and our actions become more loving. The law can show us what love looks like, but it cannot change our hearts. Only the Gospel, a loving encounter with Jesus, has the power to change our hearts.

Today, right now, take a moment to invite Jesus into your heart and into your life. Give Him permission to affect you at every level and change the way you think, feel, and act. Say “yes” to the Gospel and live a life of love!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Our Pilot Podcast is finally here!

EHK Pilot: Emily Shackleton Interview on the Kerygma Exploring His Kingdom

In this episode, we discuss the five key movements of the Kerygma (the basic proclamation of the Gospel):CreationFallSalvationRedemptionRe-Creation/MissionSome practical resources for exploring the kerygma are also discussed. Here are links to those resources: a read-aloud proclamation unpacking the kerygma for kids, a simple option for everyone! (The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross) a family faith-sharing resource adapted from the diocese of Green Baya discipleship resource for adults unpacking the kerygma from Julianne Stanz book “Start with Jesus”As always, you can find out more about St. Thomas More at: https://www.stmcath.org/or you can read more from Deacon Lincoln at: https://wordpress.com/view/exploringhiskingdom.wordpress.com
  1. EHK Pilot: Emily Shackleton Interview on the Kerygma
  2. Exploring His Kingdom Trailer

Lincoln’s Log 10-18-2020

Why Kerygma?

“For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction. ”
1 Thes. 1:5b

Last week in this Log we looked at some of the core scriptural expressions of the Kerygma. This kerygma is the core content of the Gospel message. But why is the church returning to this basic proclamation?

The reasons are pretty simple. The kerygma is the seed from which everything else the church does flows. The kerygma is an encounter with Jesus Christ. As Paul writes to the Thessalonians (above), the Gospel is not primarily about words or doctrines or laws or structures or systems. The Gospel is about a person. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said it this way,

Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. (Deus Caritas Est #1)

Everything we do is changed by our encounter with Jesus. The kerygma proclaims and makes present this encounter which opens up “a new horizon” and gives our lives “a decisive direction.”

As we reboot faith formation (now called Discipleship Formation), we return to the seeds of faith so that we can find our new horizon and direction. We are hoping to make this year a foundation to build on. The heart of the Gospel must be our guide. As our church teaches, “At the center of every process of catechesis is the living encounter with Christ” (GDC #75). As we reboot, I want to challenge each of us to return to the seed of our faith.

For a fuller explanation of the Kerygma, visit the St. Thomas More Facebook page and the Discipleship Formation playlist. You can also tune in to the “Exploring His Kingdom” podcast. But most importantly, open your heart for a new beginning. The seed of God’s love has been planted in you at baptism. Return to the source and encounter the Lord anew!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 10-11-2020

The Kerygma and a Podcast

“On that day it will be said: ‘Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the Lord for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!’”
Is. 25:9

Our church is taking a good, deep look at the way we make disciples. One of the key insights that has come out of this exploration is that we need to return to a focus on the basic proclamation of the gospel. This core proclamation, often called the kerygma, is the heart of our faith. As disciples, this kerygma forms our own heartbeat as well.

So what is it?

There are lots of ways to explain and proclaim the core of the Gospel, but here are some short lines from Scripture which take us straight to the heart of Jesus’ mission:

  • “Jesus is the Son of God, Emmanuel, God with us” (Cf. Mt. 1:23)
  • “The kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe the gospel” (Mk. 1:15)
  • “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16)
  • “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10)
  • Jesus of Nazareth “went about doing good and healing all (Acts 10:38)
  • “Jesus our Lord, who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rm 4:25)
  • “Jesus is Lord” (1 Cor. 12:3)
  • “Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor. 15:3)
  • “The Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20)

Which of these verses speaks most deeply to you?

This month in our Discipleship Formation, we will be focusing on the kerygma, the core of the Gospel. Consider committing one of these short verses to memory. Let it roll around in your heart and mind this month. Also, explore the question of the week and be sure to share a meaningful meal, pray, read the bible, and share your faith with someone.

Another resource to consider is listening to the “Exploring His Kingdom” podcast. You can listen to the trailer here.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 10-4-2020

The Good News at the Heart of Jesus

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
By the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes.”
Mt. 21:42 (see Psalm 118:22-23)

There is something wonderful about our faith. At the very heart of what we believe lies the message and person of Jesus Christ. He is the “stone rejected by the builders.”

While each of us has been created in the image of God, we have also all fallen into sin and betrayed that image. We have traded away the great gift we have been given for all sorts of things that will never satisfy our hearts. We are broken and helpless. Like the tenants in the parable this week (Mt. 21:33-43), we have betrayed and rejected our Lord through sin and disobedience. Our hearts have turned to greed and tried to possess what we were meant to care for. We have failed to love as we should. We have not cared for one another or our planet the way God intended but have used people for our own ends and exploited our resources for selfish gain. Underneath all of this lies a profound rejection of God’s plan for us.

Yet Jesus came to restore our lost image. He came to teach us how to live. But more importantly, to make new life possible by dying for us and in rising from the dead, he opened the gates to eternal life. He became the stone rejected by the builders so that he could become the cornerstone of our new life the Kingdom of God. This new life is offered to all who will accept it.

Living this new life is an adventure. It is “wonderful in our eyes.” It is a life filled with joy because our dignity as children of God has been restored. We are free to love as God loves and produce the fruit of the Kingdom.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

P.S. Stay tuned for the “Exploring His Kingdom Podcast” coming soon!

Lincoln’s Log 9-27-2020

New Beginnings!

 

“Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus.”
Phil 2:5

“The one who does not advance falls back.”
St. Bernard of Clairvaux

This weekend we celebrate the sacraments in a powerful way. The Kopke family begins anew as Shawn receives the gift of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation while his daughter Addison celebrates her first Communion. Maria Harland also celebrates sacraments as she is Confirmed and receives her First Communion alongside her son Grayson. Stephanie Potter will also celebrate Confirmation and First Communion. These adults had been preparing to receive these sacraments at Easter this year, but COVID-19 prevented that, but now is the time for this new beginning for them!

These sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist are called sacraments of initiation because they are a new beginning in the life of grace. Each time we engage in the celebration of the Eucharist, we begin again. Our spiritual life circles back again and again to this central sacrament which is a source of grace for our life in the Spirit. The Eucharist is ever ancient and ever new. Sometimes, like during a pandemic, the celebration of the Eucharist looks different, but the deep structures and the grace of the sacrament are the same.

As a parish, we are also at a new beginning. Our new Discipleship Formation process (formerly called Faith Formation) is kicking off. This new process will empower each of us to advance as followers of Jesus. A lot of things are going to be new. We will be using new technology to proclaim and share the gospel. Our calendar will look very different. But the deep structures are the same. We will be focusing on the Word of God and our relationship with Jesus and those around us. Please join us on Oct. 7 at 6:15 pm either in person (in church) or on our Facebook page as we strive to begin anew as disciples of Jesus.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 9-20-2020

Seven Streams of Discipleship Formation Part 2

“Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near.”
Is. 55:6

Our Discipleship Formation year kicks off soon! This year we will be seeking the Lord by exploring seven key streams of our tradition that flow from the heart of Jesus. Last week’s Log gave a brief description of the first four themes: 1. The Heart of Jesus, 2. The compassionate life,. 3. The prayer-filled life, and 4. The sacramental life. Here are the other streams we will be diving into this year:

February – A disciple … Lives a virtuous life. They are not driven primarily by rules or perfectionism but are attentive to the sources of their actions. They seek the purity of heart the Gospel speaks of (Mt. 5:8) and intentionally take on new patterns of living. A disciple strives to develop holy habits that flow from the grace of God dwelling within them.

March – A disciple … Lives a Word-centered life. They study, live, and proclaim the good news of God revealed in Jesus Christ and transmitted through the Scriptures and great Tradition of the church interpreted by the Magisterium. They see God’s Word as the light for their path and the light of the world (Ps. 119:105; cf. Mt. 14016).

Apri – A disciple … Lives a Spirit-empowered life. They are aware that the Holy Spirit enables them to do more than their natural abilities allow. A disciple grows in the ability to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and the gifts the Spirit gives. In short, a disciple lives “by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16).

May – A disciple … returns to the heart of Jesus to live and proclaim His Kingdom.

Our whole parish will be drinking from these streams together each month. For families, we will have an orientation for parents on Wednesday, September 23 at 6:15 pm in the church to give an overview of the year.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 9-13-2020

Seven Streams of Discipleship Formation Part 1

“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
Psalm 95:8

God’s invitation never ceases. He is calling each of us to deeper discipleship every moment of every day. But what does that mean? This year our discipleship formation process is focusing on seven streams of discipleship that flow from the heart of Jesus (see Jn. 37:37-38). We are planning some creative new ways to engage these themes (stay tuned), but today I wanted to let you know what these themes are. We will explore one of these themes each month. Here are the first themes we will be exploring:

October – A disciple… drinks from the streams of living water that flow from the heart of Jesus.

November – A disciple … Lives a compassionate life. They seek justice, compassion, and peace in every area of life from the personal to the social to the global. The activities of a disciple are motivated by the love of God and neighbor Jesus’ taught (Cf. Mk. 12:31). Disciples work to bring all relationships into harmony, unity, and balance.

December – A disciple … Lives a prayer-filled life. They are continually drawn into the love of God. A disciple values the inner life, especially silence, solitude, and prayer.

January – A disciple … Lives a sacramental life. They recognize that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn. 1:14). They live in a God-soaked world and strive to see the divine presence in the material world. A disciple shares in the sacraments of the church and sees them as primary ways of encountering God.

Next week I’ll share the themes for the rest of the year!

Our whole parish will be drinking from these streams together each month. For families, we will have an orientation for parents on Wednesday, September 23 at 6:15 pm in the church to give an overview of the year.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 9-6-2020

Reading for Transformation

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name,there am I in the midst of them.”
Mt. 18:20

Last year I took part in an international book group sponsored by Renovare, an ecumenical spiritual formation group. It was fantastic! The books that were chosen were right on topic. Some were challenging, some were easy, and some I even used in my homilies. Along with the books, there were bonus essays, podcasts, interviews with the author (or an expert in the reading), and discussion groups. Reading is a powerful spiritual practice.

So why am I telling you this? Because the book group is starting again this month. I had such a good experience last year that I volunteered to lead one of the virtual discussion groups. I’ve started the first book and it is excellent. You may hear parts of it this year in my preaching; I’m already taking notes on what to steal 😉

If you would like to join this spiritual formation book group it’s simple.

  1. Visit Renovare.org/bookclub
  2. Review the information there and see if it is appealing to you.
  3. Join the book club by clicking on a “Join” link.
  4. Complete the information they ask for.
    1. Note joining the club is $50 and includes the first book (other books are purchased separately).
  5. There are many possible discussion groups at a variety of times available. The virtual (e.g. online) one I am leading will take place on the First Thursday of each month at 10 am. After you have joined the Renovare Book Club, you can email me and I can send you the details about how to join my particular discussion group. Space is limited so don’t wait!

Reading is an excellent way to grow in your knowledge and love of God. Reading with a group takes you even deeper.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 8-30-2020

A School Year Like No Other

“… be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Rom. 12:2

I remember shouting, “Ready or not, here I come!” when playing hide and seek as a child. Those words echo in my mind as we approach a new school year. “Ready or not” the new academic year is here. This year presents unique challenges and a lot of thought and work has gone into preparing. Administrators, teachers, staff, parents, students, and children have all done their best to make this a safe and fruitful year.

Some of us are homeschooling, some are having “virtual school” at home, some are attending in person. No matter how this academic year is structured for you, the goal is the same: the renewal of our minds.

In the midst of uncertainty, it is vital that we go back to the basics and go deep. God is moving in new ways. This is a call to renewal. Every change that enters our life invites us to be transformed. But how do we know how to respond? How do we “… discern what is the will of God” (Rom. 12:2)?

Our Discipleship Formation process this year (formerly Faith Formation) is outlining four key practices for households to enable us to discern well. These practices are fundamental to our faith and are:

  1. To use the bible as individuals and as a family
  2. To pray regularly as an individual and as families
  3. To share a meaningful meal together with someone regularly (as families if possible)
  4. To have faith sharing conversations (as families if possible)

You can start these practices now, but we will have an orientation for parents on Wednesday, September 23 at 6:15 pm in church to give an overview of the year. The Discipleship Formation Year begins in October and will be a critical tool in the renewal of your minds as we journey together into the Kingdom.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader