Allison and I were invited by some dear long-time friends to spend the weekend with them at Highlands, NC. Being with them is like going home. The hospitality, the good food, the fun fellowship, and our common bonds in Christ. The husband gave me an incredible compliment: "Foley, I tell people you are the only person I can call my son, my brother, and my father." The feeling is definitely mutual. Isn't it great to be able to walk with special friends for decades and have the relationship grow more special as time goes on??
On Sunday we attended Christ Anglican Church in Highlands. A dear friend from seminary is now the rector, the Rev. Jim Murphy. Jim and his wife, Sharon, are god-parents of our daughter, and it was GREAT to be with them and their daughter. He has been the rector for a little over two months so he is still getting oriented to the parish and the community. Christ Church meets in the local community center and the members have to set up each Sunday and break everything down after the service (brought back lots of memories!).
We attended the Bible study class before the service with about 14 other folks. They are studying Genesis and we got to hear a teaching on the end of Chapter 4 and all of Chapter 5. I heard something I had not reflected on much before: blood calls out with a voice. Focusing on Abel's blood which was calling out from the ground, we did a quick walk through the Bible about how blood belongs to God and life is in the blood, and culminating with the blood of Christ.
Christ Church uses the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and sings traditional hymns. We joined in worship with about 40 other folks. The music, the liturgy, and the sermon were quite alive and full of the Holy Spirit. A couple of quotes from the sermon which jumped out to me...
"We may have the Spirit, but we can ignore the Spirit which has been given to us. If we do this, we miss the power, the gifts, and the fruit of the Spirit. Our witness is a sham."
"King Saul was anointed as king and was empowered by the Spirit of God. 'Saul, you will be a different man.' And he was, until he took matters into his own hands. God removed His Spirit from him, and he ended up doing unspeakable things even taking his own life."
"Luke 11:13 - 'If you, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
Christ Church has a fine pastor and he has a super core group to grow a parish. They are dedicated to the Lord and willing to serve. Their big challenge is that Highlands in a resort community, and Christ Church is a Mountain Resort Church (my term). Where most churches in the U.S. flourish from September to April, Mountain Resort Churches flourish from near Memorial Day to near Labor Day. This is true for Christ Church as many of their regulars move South in the winter. If you are in the area, go visit. You will be inspired to follow Christ!