Grace and Peace to you in Christ Jesus our Lord!
It should come to no surprise for many of you now that I have some exciting news to formally announce about how the Lord is guiding us forward as a church plant. In some ways this news is about a mutually beneficial partnership between an existing church and a newly formed church plant.
Last Saturday night (January 28th) we began the first in a sermon series from the Gospel according to Mark. During this Epiphany season, we will be journeying with the early followers of Jesus as we seek an answer to the pivotal questions in Mark 8, "Who do people say that I am?"
The first sermon was from Mark 1:16-28. This section of Mark's narrative occurs shortly after Jesus' baptism and subsequent 40 day long wilderness battle with Satan.
It is with a full and joyful heart that I announce a new partnership for Plant Medina and her first church plant in Medina County, St. George’s Anglican Church! SynergyEDGE has accepted us into their two-year learning community and has graciously awarded our mission with a substantial scholarship!
A Learning Community for churches who want to transition into Missional Communities and a stronger disciple-making culture!
SynergyEDGE includes clergy, laity, missionaries from all around North America and across a variety of christian traditions. It is a two-year program that helps churches at various stages and sizes (church plants (that’s us), <1000 member and >1000 member churches) practically implement Missional Communities.
Our desire for Medina County is to see a spiderweb of missional communities emerge to make disciples that are anchored in local churches (not necessarily St. George’s or future Anglican plants, but churches who are comprised and value MCs and discipleship). Think of an aircraft carrier (local churches) that send out fighter jets and boats (missional communities). There is a distinct heartbeat of gathering (worship services/prayer/programs) and scattering (missional communities, missionaries, service) that we do not want to separate in our churches.
WE NEED MISSIONARIES… IN MEDINA COUNTY!!! If you are interested in learning more about missional communities and making disciples in Medina County, then please email Fr. Ryan Kocak (firstname.lastname@example.org) to attend this two-year learning community.
By: Fr. Ryan M. Kocak
Friday, January the sixth is the end of one season, Christmas and the beginning of another, Epiphany. We begin the season of Christmas by receiving the gift of Christ, but we begin Epiphany with gift giving to the Christ. On January sixth we celebrate the Epiphany, when those three magi from a pagan land (some call wise men, others kings) follow the signs in the sky to a new-born king. Those outside the covenant community of Israel, come to worship the promised one of Israel. They come not only with praise, but with extravagant gifts befitting a great king.
During advent, I introduced a teaching entitled, “The Secret of the Gifts.” It’s an interactive lesson based on a children’s book by the same name. The teaching revolves around the question, “What was it like for these three magi to encounter the holy Christ child?” In the story, each one of those extravagant gifts (gold, frankincense, myrrh) is transformed into the core essence of their being. Each magi responds initially with denial, then acceptance, then attempt to flee from the christ child in shame of their transformed “gift”(their hidden sin). But each one is stopped by the angel Gabriel and told they must offer these gifts as well, for this is why this King was born. Each one surrenders their sin, their sorrow, their places of brokenness at the foot of the Christ child and walk away freed from its entanglement, weight, and power in their life.
At the end of the first two lessons (listen to the first lesson here), we wrote down what our particular “broken gifts” were on notecards. The sources of shame, sorrow, sin, unforgiveness … those ugly parts of our hearts that we hide with a shadow of cynicism, sarcasm, or emotional distance. After writing these down, we followed the motion of the wise men in laying these confessions down in a basket representing the Christ child.
And then came to this past Friday, January 6th. We had a common meal at our house, then went into the final lesson on “The Secret of the Gifts.” At the end of this lesson though, I introduced a new liturgy. There was three parts to it:
1- Fire : We held on to our confessions this time and took them outside to my deck, where we had a fire going. We then discussed how the Holy Spirit convicts us of these places in our hearts, how the Holy Spirit reveals the great victory of Christ over our sins, sorrows, and the sting of death, how the Holy Spirit refines us, and how we can be free from these entanglements by the power of the Holy Spirit. I began by “releasing” all those past confessions from previous weeks into the fire. Then we each threw in our latest confessions.
2- Fragrance: Then I had one of the youth take a pile of scented pinecones and throw them into the fire on top of our “confession notecards.” Smoke and smell erupted in the fire (Read 2 Cor 2:14-17 and Psalm 141:1-4). In the midst of our offering of these false ways, something beautiful to God was created. Our offering of these broken gifts become a sweet aroma to God and to those around us.
3- Food : Then I had one of the older ones among us pull out a metal stake for roasting marshmallows. On its end was a couple of large marshmallows… On top of our former sorrows, in the sweet fragrance of their offering to God, we feasted in freedom (Read Psalm 23 and Psalm 31).
It was a powerful and sacramental way to end a teaching series and transition between church seasons!
The above devotion was written and delivered by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams. It is worth listening to, reflecting upon, and applying to our lives during this Advent season.
We began a new teaching series in our Misisonal Communities (MCs) called: “The Secret of the Gifts.” Below is the introduction and the reading and teaching for the first of a three-part series.
The story has been told for centuries of three kings who followed the star to a manger in Bethlehem where a great king was to be born. We know from reliable historical documents what they brought to the child Jesus on that day, but did you ever imagine what that encounter was like for them? How it changed their lives? What would you bring to the Christ child this season? How would it transform your life? Come, eat, listen, share, and imagine with us this Advent as we journey together in anticipation of the birth of the Savior…
Saturday night may be of no consequence to the greater world, but it will go down in the history books of the Kingdom of God… a small group of Christ followers in Medina, Ohio gathered together to worship the Lord for their first worship service! They sang praise songs, heard Scriptures read, heard the Gospel proclaimed, remembered their story in Holy Communion, and were sent out on mission together. St. George’s Anglican Church will continue to meet throughout the winter months at Harvest Presbyterian Church in Medina Ohio at 6PM on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month.
BUT NEXT WEEK they will begin their worship at 6:30 PM (as they will celebrate their first baptism!)
Below you can listen to Father Ryan’s sermon: