Imago’s Common Prayer
Because we believe the Kingdom expands, darkness flees, and Christ is formed in us
When the Church Prays together.
Beloved Imago Dei,
It has been one of the great joys and honors of my life to love and serve you these several years. Over the last few months I’ve had an unusual amount of mental space to reflect on my vocation as a priest and my time among you. As I reflect on my role in your lives, I can’t help but experience an immediate sense of gratitude and an even greater sense of fear. Not that kind of fear that makes me “afraid,” but the kind of fear the Bible speaks of in reference to the “fear of the Lord.” I have an unusual sense of having trodden ground that “even angels fear to tread” – it’s the ground, the soil, of your souls. That I have been able to partner with Jesus in cultivating and shaping your souls, by calling forth a restored imago dei in you and so preparing you for the restoration of all things, is overwhelming. Moreover, that so many of you have freely and trustingly opened your hearts to me, is quite honestly, wrecking me. Your “yes” to Jesus, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in you. Hunger is healthy, it’s actually a gift. Never stop asking to be hungrier for God and his work in you and others – God is love, and his work in us is always aimed at growing us up in love.
For this reason, I want to sow one more seed in the soil of your souls. This pastoral transition is an amazing opportunity to allow the Father to shape our souls. Transition and uncertainty will always bring stuff up for us, we need to be present to it by observing, reflecting and discussing what we are experiencing. Explore your own predispositions as you come into the discernment process:
What am I feeling about the selection of a Pastor? Am I anxious, afraid, hopeful, excited, angry, frustrated? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your heart as you come into this process, and listen to him as together you explore what that might be about.
What am I carrying into this process that’s about my experience under previous pastors? How might I have been frustrated, disappointed, or wounded by a previous pastor, or nurtured, encouraged, or empowered by one, so that I already have particular projections, predispositions, or expectations? Have people pointed out that I need more healing?
What am I carrying into this process that’s about my agenda for the future? How might that be about personal or congregational or agenda-based control or power?
Honestly acknowledge, renounce and release to God any anxiety, fears, suspicion toward leadership, anger, personal agendas, particular expectations, or anything else that keeps you from coming into this process freely and trustingly within the Body. You may have to do this on a regular basis.
Ask God for humility, trust, wisdom, clarity, and the overall guidance of the Holy Spirit – that we would realize his habitation among us.
Receive his empowering presence.
Talk to members of the Search Committee if you have any questions or concerns whatsoever. Don’t file it away.
Choose to believe your leaders and trust their sincerity and discernment. Don’t give the Devil a foothold. The Body discerns best TOGETHER – we are the Temple of his presence.
I know that the Parish Council and Search Committee are absolutely committed to transparency in the process – would you commit to joining them in bathing this season in constant prayer? I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has so much to say to us all in this liminal space. Please use Imago’s Common prayer and throw your whole “yes” into our community and this season. You are important and it will take all of us doing life together in the Kingdom to realize the fullness of God’s heart for us in this season.
Please refer to our website for detailed information, updates, and contact info. Here are the leaders who will be shepherding Imago daily under the guidance of Bishop Andrew, please direct all questions, concerns and prophetic insights to them:
Chrissy Kenerson, Senior Warden, Search Committee Chair | firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott DeLong, Pastor of Ministry Systems, Interim Preaching Team | Scott@idachurch.com
Sarah Barber, Lead Intercessor | email@example.com
Our hearts are steadfast, our spirits are glad, and our lives are the better and more enriched for knowing, loving, and serving you all. Thank you for loving the Howard family.
In His Affection,
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Who knew that Easter was 50 days of party?!
That’s right, weeks of celebrating the pivotal event in human history that changed everything – the Victorious Resurrection of the Son of God. Jesus resurrection means the undoing of death, the reversal of the curse and the inauguration of the new creation. We can be free from sin, fear, addictions, loneliness and meaninglessness. In so doing, Jesus has reconciled us to our primary vocation as priests and regents over all creation, which means as his followers he is growing us up in our vocation to join with him in the restoration of all things! How are you exercising your new-found dignity? How will you engage your priesthood?
The “Priesthood of all Believers” is a biblical teaching that has gained a lot of traction since the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. But it means sooooo much more than just “you don’t need a priest to mediate between you and God so you can just bring your long list of wants to him directly in prayer.” Yes, it means unhindered communion with the Trinity, but it moves beyond being to doing. Beyond relationship to responsibility or representation. Eastertide will focus on our response to God’s victory by our participation in the New Creation as his co-regents.
The Priesthood of all Believers necessarily points to and reveals the Missionhood of all Believers. The saints in Heaven sing to the risen Jesus, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9-10
You and I have been called to represent the King – it doesn’t matter how good you think you are or how much time you think you have or how much you know or don’t know - we are one with him. To be one with God means that we share in his mission, and his mission through Jesus is to redeem the world. God was the first missionary! We will never experience fullness of life in him unless we share everything with him, including his mission - until then we are not truly ONE.
We want you to start praying. Pray intentionally for the people in your life, neighbors, acquaintances, family members, friends, coworkers... are they “people of peace to you”? (Luke 10) Do they want to be around you, serve you, listen to you? We are starting a 3 for 30 campaign (more on this later in this booklet) prior to the Summer months. You will pick three (3) people of peace and pray for them every day for thirty (30) days as a lead in to engaging these people throughout the summer and finally inviting them to Alpha beginning September 4th.
The resurrection means new creation, and this necessitates mission. Will you go further in oneness with Jesus this Eastertide?
Download the PDF version of Imago’s Common Prayer for Holy Week: Booklet-Order version
at·one·ment – He’s drawing you closer
This week, 2000 years ago, Jesus the Messiah – fully human and fully divine – did what we could not do for ourselves and so transformed the course of human and natural history. He did what our first parents Adam and Eve could not do – he lived a sinless life in full communion with his Father. Jesus of Nazareth broke with the human pattern of sin thereby enabling him to be the perfect sacrifice required to take away our sins. He became what the bible calls a sacrifice of atonement. In Romans 3 we read,
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood – to be received by faith.
The word translated as “sacrifice of atonement” refers to the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament and can be translated “expiation” (to wipe away) or “propitiation” (to satisfy or avert wrath). The lid of the Ark, between the cherubim, was referred to as the mercy seat, where the blood of a spotless lamb would be sprinkled to expiate the sins of the people and propitiate the justice of God. To refer to Jesus as the atoning sacrifice is to gather up both meanings and declare the goal of such sacrifice, namely to make us ONE with God: At-one-ment. Jesus’ death is the sacrifice, his blood makes atonement, and his body is the mercy seat. Those who receive (trust) in his death on their behalf are redeemed (bought back) from sin and made perfect in God’s sight – able to draw closer.
In her wisdom, the church has set aside a yearly remembrance of our God’s passion – we are entering redeemed time, the holiest time of the Christian year. The word translated “remembrance” in biblical Greek is anamnesis, which conveys no mere recollection of events that happened in the past, but it is a kind of recollection that brings those events forward into the “now” that we might experience them as present fresh realities and so experience their benefits – as if time and space no longer matter.
Draw closer this week. Do not look away. Do not pass by. Behold him who was pierced, wounded, and crushed because our sin separated us from Love. He pursued you even unto death. He’s drawing you closer. How will you respond?
“I am now going to allure her. I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.”
These are the words of a jealous God, spoken to the prophet Hosea. God’s people had been unfaithful to the covenant and to him. To bring them back he would make her as a desert, “slay her with thirst,” and “block her path with thornbushes.” The Lord would “wall her in so that she cannot find her way,” so that, “She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them.” For jealousy is a husband’s fury; Therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. - Proverbs 6:34
The Lord reveals himself as a jealous husband, destroying her lovers, and eager for her to re-experience the romance of covenantal love and be exalted with him – but first she must acknowledge him in the desert. The desert wilderness is a powerful theme in Scripture. The Lord is harkening back to a time when he had her to himself in the wilderness of Sinai, in the days of her youth, when he established his covenant with her and she responded exuberantly. The desert wilderness is the place of encounter. It’s the place of weakness, vulnerability, testing, maturation, and complete and utter trust in the One whose protection and provision is perfect.
Moses was atop mount Sinai in the desert for 40 days, Israel was in the wilderness for 40 years, Elijah fasted and prayed for 40 days in the desert, and “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.”
Lent is about encounter, about returning to our first love - but we must first acknowledge him. This Lent we will let him hedge us in, slay us with thirst, block our path and rearrange our rhythms away from our other lovers. We will acknowledge him and learn together how to “redeem the time” by engaging practices that leave space for encounter.
Practices will include:
Imago’s Common Prayer
The Daily Examen
Are you willing to be allured? Are you willing to be led into the desert by the Spirit? Abandon other lovers and return to the Lover of your soul. Do this and you will live, do this and you will arise.
A Holy and blessed Lent to you and yours,
Epiphany is one of the principle Christian feast days celebrating the revelation of God in and through Jesus the Messiah. Since the beginning, Christians have proclaimed the exclusivity of Jesus of Nazareth as the ultimate and final revelation of God’s Divine Being and loving intentions for the world. If you want to know God, you must know Jesus. To see Jesus is to know God. To know him is to love him. Through Jesus, God unveils and unfolds the glorious mystery of his interior life, manifesting it to the whole world and inviting all of creation to participate in his Triune revelry.
The season of Epiphany is about manifestation and mission. The unveiling of God’s infinite beauty in the incarnation, life, teaching, death, resurrection and ascension of this Jewish man from Galilee strikes the human heart with such illuminating force that one’s soul is at once captured and enthralled by love. Our response is always the same: to know and love him more and make him known to others (mission). To enjoy him more, love one another more, and join with him for the restoration of all things.
Epiphany beckons us to participate in the mystery of God and ministry of Jesus, to know him and make him known. The Christian definition of “mystery” does not refer to that which is unknowable, but to that which is infinitely knowable. This Epiphany, let’s know the unknowable, fall in love, and join with Jesus in the mission of God.
Fr. Justin +