It is with great joy that we share we arrived home safely. Our transition has been good so far, it helped a lot to have our family, friends and A2J community welcome us home. They not only threw us a welcome home party but also cleaned and organized our house and filled our cupboards and fridge with food. What a gift! It was an amazing 395 days in Europe. Our time was very fruitful and through the grace of God we accomplished our goals serving as the President of Antioch Network. We also experienced so much wonder and beauty as a family. We trust that in the days, months and years ahead we will continue to experience the fruit of this time both as a family and in our work.
Thank you for supporting us prayerfully, personally and financially in this time. We could not have done the work without you.
We will send a comprehensive report later and plan to host a time to share in person this Fall. Until then, below are a few highlights from our last two months
Visiting our team
Most of the past two months was focused on connecting in a deep way with our team member in Europe. God has blessed us with a strong and beautiful team.
Celebrating Pentecost in Rome
It was a surreal experience to be on the stage with Christian leaders from around the world. We were diverse yet one in Christ. There were Roman Catholics, Pentecostals, Evangelicals, Anglicans, non-denominational and even Messianic Jews. There were five Cardinals and of course at the center was Pope Francis, the Bishop of Rome. It was very meaningful to participate in this monumental event, standing side by side with my friends and fellow co-laborers from Wittenberg 2017 and John 17.
Pope Francis began his Pentecost celebrations at an ecumenical vigil June 3 with some 50,000 Catholic charismatics and Pentecostals from more than 125 countries gathered for praise and worship at the site of the ancient Roman Circus Maximus
“We have chosen to meet here in the Circus Maximus,” said Pope Francis, “where so many Christians were martyred, just for laughs. Today there are more martyrs than in those times. Today’s martyrs are not asked ‘Are you Catholic? Orthodox? Coptic? Pentecostal?’ before being killed. They are killed because they are Christian. We are united by this ecumenism of the blood.”
If those who want to kill Christians believe they are one, he said, it is urgent that Christians be
“united by the work of the Holy Spirit in prayer and in action on behalf of those who are weaker. Striving to Walk together. Work together. and Love each other,”
Pope Francis shared with us that, being baptized in the Spirit and knowing how to praise God, “are not enough” if we as, Christians don’t also help those in need.
Here is the Big Question:
In this year marking the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s protest, can we seek to be united simply as followers of Jesus Christ?
Meeting Pope Francis as a family
It was an amazing honor to be able to be with Pope Francis as a family, we were the only family in this meeting. We thank God for our friend Julia Torres, who made it possible. Our kids were so moved by this experience. Pope Francis was so excited to greet our children.
John 17 Meetings
This was our second John 17 Gathering in Rome to visit with Pope Francis at the Vatican. This gathering included roughly fifty participants, predominantly from evangelical and Pentecostal churches in the United States, and was initiated by the gracious invitation of Pope Francis and the Vatican, geared towards building bridges between Catholics and Protestants for the glory of Jesus, relational unity of his people, and good of the world.
If you would like to read the transcripts from our meetings with Pope Francis that a friend put together you can do so by clicking here
Two minute video summary of our time in Rome
The love and peace of Christ to you,
Ryan for the Thurman family
by Maureen Alianza
You are desperate. In case you didn’t know it, you are. Or, possibly in some pushed-down-kind-of-way, you have a faint, fearful awareness of its reality but the terror of confronting it keeps it just out of finger’s grasp. But it is there. It reaches up to stroke you, reminding you of your condition in ways just out of the ability to control. You can’t think your way out of its reach and your wisdom and maturity wont shield you from the rawness of its palpations. You were created, intentionally to live in an extreme state of vulnerability, desperately in need. Life hangs in the balance, as quite literally, without the neediness being satisfied, you will die.
Your soul must receive love. Literally, you will cease to exist without the offering and receiving of love. Neediness exposes vulnerability. Control is not an option. We are painfully and hopelessly needy. It’s a fragile existence to be positioned in, with consequences looming around many corners. Are you safe? Is there reason to fear, to desperately grasp for what seems to hint of life….of love? Or, do you know a Giver who delights to give, who has no fear of lack or want because the source is in no danger of ceasing. The gifts are new every morning and there is no destination traveled that the Giver can’t offer what is needed for life. Gifts found around many corners, dancing through thoughts, given in the gazes of an eye, delivered in a spoken word, in the sounds of creation. Do you see it? Do you hear it? Do you feel it? More importantly, do you receive it? Your life depends on it, friend. Your life depends on it. I often delight in the subtleties, the breezes that love does float upon….offerings for the taking. Amazed at the power of such whispers, I often capture them and put them on display. A collection that offers constant reminders of what is there all the time, closer than the next inhale of oxygen into my lungs.
You are desperate. You are painfully needy. You are safe. You are loved.
I’m absolutely convinced that nothing
—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic,
today or tomorrow, high or low,
thinkable or unthinkable
can get between us and God’s love
because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
Hi friends of A2J!
Amber here again with another song to share! :D
Nearly a decade ago, Danny led us through an in-depth study on the Sermon on the Mount. Around that time, I wrote this song called "Look at the Son!" Thanks to our very talented friend and producer Richard Lam, we were finally able to get it recorded. Justan and I also attempted our first music video using my iPhone. :)
We hope this song will shine some light today!
by Ryan Thurman
Greetings friends and family!
We continue to our journey of learning that we are simply human beings, enfolded in weakness and in hope, called together in Christ to change our world one heart at a time. We are in awe of all we have experienced these past eleven months and ask you to pray for us to finish these last two months strong! We return to Phoenix July 5th and look forward to reuniting with many of you!
Wittenberg 2017 Report
Last month the leadership team of Wittenberg 2017 gathered for a retreat in Trieb, Germany to plan the program for the meeting in November. We have been truly blessed in this effort. Our group is drawn from the Lutheran, Catholic, Anglican, Free Church, and Messianic Jewish streams of the body of Christ. God has granted us a ‘spirit of unity’ (Romans 15:5-6).
Life in Gozo
We have now been living here in Gozo for seven months! It has been a great experience. When we are not traveling and visiting team in mainland Europe and Turkey we have been focused on serving in a home church network in Malta and Gozo. We are also serving in the Anglican church both in Gozo and Malta, and serving in a developing ministry for Christian reconciliation. We have made many wonderful connections. During our time in Europe we have added new Antioch Network team members and been able to encourage and strengthen our existing team.
The kids have found their groove in homeschool, the girls are enjoying regularly volunteering at a horse farm. Micah has enjoyed being on a soccer team and Ethan has learned the art of stone sculpturing. We have also found many opportunities to express the ministry of hospitality to immigrants, ministry partners, and family.
The Days Ahead
We leave Gozo May 17th. We will be taking the van across to Sicily via ferry. We will then drive to Italy to stay with John 17 ministry partners outside of Caserta. Then we will drive to Rome to celebrate the Golden Jubilee with Wittenberg 2017 and John 17 team. These meetings will be from June 1st-June 4th
Following this we will connect with the rest of the John 17 leadership team to facilitate another meeting with Pope Francis. John 17 has invited fifty non-Catholic leaders from the U.S. to pray and fellowship with Pope Francis around the theme of Christian reconciliation. This will be June 5th-9th
Finally we will make our way to Germany and connect with George and Hanna Miley during last days in Germany, before returning to the Phoenix. We will help facilitate an Eifel Fellowship Gathering where both the Thurmans and Mileys will share updates on What God has been doing in Europe and also celebrate my 42nd Birthday!
-By Ryan Thurman
“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”
"In Jesus’ resurrected presence, the invisible kingdom of God has become visible reality. The word has taken shape, love has become real. Jesus showed what love meant. His word and life proved that love knows no bounds. Love halts at no barrier. It can never be silenced, no matter what circumstances make it seem impossible to practice it. Nothing is impossible for the faith that springs from the fire of love."
"It is of crucial importance that the cross of Jesus Christ is in the center of our hearts – central to our calling, and central to our mission. The Lamb of God on the cross stands before the throne of God. (Rev. 5:6) The cross is the center of the universe. We must experience its meaning in its height, depth, and breadth as a mystical revelation through the Holy Spirit. It is not enough to believe it; we must ask God that we may be allowed to experience it in a living way."
-J. Heinrich Arnold
"The cross is not a defeat, but a victory. It is the dramatic reassertion of the fact that God’s love is sovereign, that the rulers of the world do not have the last word, that the kingdom of God has defeated the kingdom of Satan, that the kingdoms of the world have now become, in principle, the kingdom of our God, and of his Messiah: and he shall reign for ever and ever."
"Whoever enters discipleship enters Jesus’ death, and puts his or her own life into death; this has been so from the beginning. The cross is not the horrible end of a pious, happy life, but stands rather at the beginning of community with Jesus Christ."
"Easter comes out ringing in terms that we all hear if we seek to hear it, that the soul of man is immortal. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ we have fit testimony that this earthly life is not the end, that death is just something of a turn in the road, that life moves down a continual moving river, and that death is just a little turn in the river, that this earthly life is merely an embryonic prelude to a new awakening, that death is not a period which ends this great sentence of life but a comma that punctuates it to more loftier significance. That is what it says. That is the meaning of Easter. That is the question that Easter answers – that death is not the end."
-Martin Luther King Jr.
We have a really special post to share with you all today, written by our dear friend Hanna Miley. When Hanna speaks, we lean in very closely to listen.
The Mileys continue to have a primary influence within our A2J fellowship.
Hanna lost both of her parents in the Holocaust. Together, she and George are active in the ministry of reconciliation, teaching & living out Christ’s power to shape forgiveness & healing in the inner life. (eifelfellowship.com)
Will you lean in and listen with us today?
By Hanna Miley
Frequently when we are together as a group seeking God’s direction, Hans-Peter, our good friend from Austria, suggests that we should trace the path of “the thin red line”. Speaking in his quiet tone, he says, “Look back and see how He has led, a thin red line will indicate the way ahead.”
Today, March 22, 2017, I scribble in a notebook as we drive through green, rolling Eifel hills toward Koblenz.
In the years between 2008 to 2012 while I was writing A Garland for Ashes: World War II, the Holocaust, and One Jewish Survivor’s Long Journey to Forgiveness, I attempted to research the story of my three aunts, my mother’s sisters, Johanna Schneider, Dorothea Schneider and Elisabeth Schneider. They lived in Koblenz and they died in the Holocaust. I have no photograph, only a letter and a postcard. The typed letter is dated 2, August 1939, signed by my Aunt Johanna and sent to England days after my arrival. She addresses my host family, shows loving concern for her niece Hannelore and expresses thankfulness to this English foster family and hinting at the emotional turmoil in our Jewish family.
And the hand-written postcard is from Tante Elisabeth. She writes with tenderness and concern. The card is addressed to my room in the Jewish hospital in Köln dated only days before I left Germany on the Kindertransport for safety in England.
With sadness I accepted the meagre facts that I could discover about their deportation and deaths in the east and yet a longing has remained with me over all these years…to grieve for them with greater understanding and somehow, to honor their memory.
In 2007 we settled in Dahlem, an Eifel village. In the following years we enjoyed visiting Café Harmonie, drinking coffee, eating homemade cake, and conversations with Conny, the owner.
As I prepared for the book reading at Kloster Arenberg in April 2016, I wondered, “Which section of Meine Krone in der Asche should I read, perhaps Koblenz? Why not read from Chapter 15 where I describe the memory of staying with my aunts as a small child and the taste and smells of breakfast in their Koblenz apartment, Markenbildchenweg 30.p.t.?”
At the end of the reading the questions and discussion focused on my aunts and how to deal with the past, Koblenz, and its former Jewish citizens.
Days later, we were introduced to the leader of the group working on the history of the Jews in Koblenz. We asked him, “How could Stolpersteine be placed for my three aunts?” His response was warm and sympathetic. And then, a long pause until March 21, 2017 when the thin red line became clearly visible, again. An email landed in our inbox. Bettina, the wife of Martin, who had arranged the book reading in Kloster Arenberg, wrote inviting us to join them the next day in Koblenz for the 75th Anniversary of the deportation to the East of the first Jews from Koblenz.
Liebe Hanna und lieber George,
Almost immediately we knew we were to say “yes!” and through God’s grace and the prayers of our intercessors we are now on the road to Koblenz.
Remembering our past experiences in Gemünd, Köln, Bonn, Lodz, and Chelmno, walking with Jesus, confronting past pain, in each situation we have been given German friends who have been God’s care-givers, ministers of light and grace in the bleakest darkness. And so, again in Koblenz, Martin and Bettina lovingly walked and stood with us on the evening of March 22, 2017, seventy-five years after the deportation of the first group of Jews from Koblenz. Three hundred thirty-eight men, woman, and children were ordered to assemble in the Gymnasium of the Freiherr-von-Stein-Schule with one suitcase weighing no more than 50 kilograms containing clothes, cooking and eating utensils, and food, everything else had to be surrendered.
Seventy-five years later we gather with more than 200 citizens of Koblenz in an open space behind the school that had largely survived the World War II bombing. We are standing on the same ground where the 338 Jews had slept one night on straw in the former Gymnasium.
Holding yellow stars and lit candles, we listen to a description of the circumstances and are invited to consider the emotions of the group assembled there in 1942. Were they depressed? Despairing? Or grasping a few tattered shreds of hope?
Uniformed men herded the group of Jews out of the school into Steinstrasse. Where were Johanna, Dora, and Elisabeth in the long line of 338 men, women, and children? Were they mourning the loss of their former way of life? Were they overcome with shame? Did they fear for their lives as they marched through the streets in broad daylight carrying their suitcases?
What about us? Police in cars and motor bikes accompany us making a path through the traffic. We follow the steps of the Jewish citizens toward Lützel Railway Station, used in 1942 for goods, not people.
We stop half-way at the old Jewish cemetery. We climb the steps and stand at the entrance of the prayer house, now a synagogue, used by the current Jewish congregation, mostly Russian Jews.
We listen to prayers in Hebrew and German. The sky darkens as the long line moves forward, slowly and quietly, over cobblestones and concrete, crossing the Mosel River bridge before snaking down the steps to Lützel station.
The crowd forms a silent semi-circle facing a microphone.
One by one, students steps forward to read from the list of names. The name of each human being is read slowly and with respect, entire families, children, mothers, fathers, grandparents. I wait for Johanna, Dorothea, and Elisabeth. The names are read alphabetically, Schneider comes toward the end. I can hardly take in the significance of each name being read exactly 75 years after they were herded into cattle cars. How can it be that I am present at this moment of time, the anniversary of my aunts’ goodbye to their hometown? The crowd holds yellow stars and flickering candles, they stand still and silent. Our deep emotion is tangible. No one moves. No one breaks the silence. We are bereft and without recourse.
I feel Jesus nudging me forward. I sense He is saying, “This is why I brought you here.” I approach the little group of organizers and ask if I can say a word of response because the names of my 3 aunts were read aloud. They eagerly lead me to the waiting microphone. Looking back, I marvel at the flow of words that were given to me, in German no less! I feel the crowd’s sense of relief as I thank them for honoring the memory of my 3 aunts and the other 335 Jews.
After the long march through the streets and standing in the cold, barren station, how can we walk all the way back to the beginning and find our parked car?
Martin runs back to the school. Bettina takes us to the nearby old Koblenz center for Abendessen. As we talk and eat the name Chemin Neuf is mentioned and we discover that all four of us have been spiritually blessed by Chemin Neuf and Gerold Jäger in Bonn.
Then our gracious friends drive us back to our waiting car.
by Jeff Skeens
Renewal takes a tribe, or in modern day terms, a community. Now this is another a loaded word! The first question that comes to mind when I hear the word community is, “What in the world do you mean when you say ‘community’?” Everyone has a different idea of what it is, and for every idea of what community is, there are hundreds of different ways that each idea could be lived out.
So I am not going to give my opinion of what community is supposed to look like; that task is impossible because of all the various contexts and cultures that exist. What I hope to do though, is to paint a mental ethos of community and lay a foundation of some of the earmarks of healthy communities
Jean Vanier, a Catholic philosopher turned theologian, in 1964 founded a community called L’Archein France. L’Arche communities are intentional places of living where those with intellectual disabilities are able to have a safe place to live and share life with others who have intellectual disabilities as well as those who do not.
A core ethos of L’Arche communities is for each community to display the “reality that persons with intellectual disabilities possess inherent qualities of welcome, wonderment, spirituality, and friendship.” They desire to explicitly display “the dignity of every human being by building inclusive communities of faith and friendship where people with and without intellectual disabilities share life together.” (see http://www.larcheusa.org/)
So as to not reinvent the wheel, I want to use the inherent qualities of L’Arche values as a means to lay a foundation or a framework for healthy communities, which I believe is a vital element of church renewal.
Welcome: an instance or manner of greeting someone with pleasure and approval.
Greeting someone with love and warmth is an acquired gift, especially when we’re greeting someone who is radically different than we are, and possibly offensive in the way they live. Community takes a welcoming spirit, or maybe as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, a spirit of hospitality. I was a Young Life leader for over a decade, and I have been associated with Young Life at an intimate level since 1994.
Young Life leaders (at least in my area in Phoenix) are some of the best “welcomers” I know. The spirit that Young Life exudes to kids in jr. and sr. high is one that is opposite of our everyday culture. Mainstream culture (Christian and non-Christian) typically says, “You can belong to our group once you behave a certain way and believe what we believe.” Young Life flips that cultural script and says, “You belong with us regardless of your behavior and beliefs.” This is risky business, but I believe it’s the right kind of business to be about.
For community to work and be healthy, it must start with a welcoming spirit that says, “You belong here, even though there are big differences between us.” Belonging precedes behavior and belief. This world view is at the heart of community.
Wonderment: a state of awed admiration or respect.
In the Christian, Judaic, and Sufi Islam world views, all humans have inherent value and worth because of the belief that we are all created in God’s image, which was later coined in it’s Latin form as the “Imago Dei.” If this doctrine were to be properly understood and fully believed, self-righteousness, biases, judgements, and racism would eventually fade away, and we will begin celebrating the beauty of our differences, rather than fighting about them.
Being thrilled about the gifts we bring to one another and respecting and valuing the differences of ourselves and other people is an essential element of healthy community. It is easy for us to be in a state of judgement and criticalness of each other, but to begin to be awed and amazed at the uniqueness and diversity of humanity is a part of every thriving community.
Wonderment ought to follow welcoming, yet this is a virtue that is mostly only attained after the church is caught up into the heavenly dimensions of the eucharistic life, which is the regaining of the mystery and the divine nature of the Lord’s table, and learning to see all of life as a liturgy of worship to God.
Spirituality: matters concerning the human soul (heart, mind).
To respect and admire someone and not care about the deeper parts of their heart and mind (the soul), are to not fully love and respect someone. As much as we can talk about being a community of welcoming and wonderment, we must not neglect being a community who cares for souls. With that said, welcoming people and finding wonder in our diversity is not an invitation to turn a blind eye to unhealthy living and destructive behavior. Much abuse is birthed inside the middle of tight knit communities, as the desire of a euphoric community becomes more important than individual human dignity.
In caring for the spirituality of a person and a community, we will be able to explore the deep parts of our hearts and minds and be changed in the midst of a welcoming community of wonder. It is in this context where behaviors are not coerced to get in proper formation, but challenged to promote peace and welfare for the individual and the whole. Caring for someone’s healing (body and soul) begins to be a natural corrective part of healthy communities, which will be able to offer space to those who need it. This type of community will respect boundaries, honors bodies and souls, and have self-respect and sincerity towards others.
Healthy communities labor towards minds being renewed, which leads to destructive habits and thoughts being challenged in love, and proper accountability that seeks the welfare of individual bodies and souls, as well as the corporate body. This might be the hardest value to embody in community, but we must labor towards this end, as spiritual realities always affect material realities.
As one is continually drawn into the presence of God on earth, it is clear to see that there is a spirit at work in this world other than the Spirit of God. It is a dark spirit that seeks to destroy body and soul (individually and communally). It hates diversity and destroys all creativity in community. It is a perverted spirit that seeks to twist and distort love, and it only has the the power to usurp, not to build up. This must be recognized in the spirit realm and addressed in community as the spirituality of individuals and the community is shaped.
Friendship: a relationship of mutual affection between two or more people.
There are many forms of friendship that we could talk about, but at the most basic level, I take friendship to be a place where relationships are rooted, meaning, they do not run away after conflict and disappointments ensue. In our culture, where cars can take us far away from our neighborhoods and friendships, we have lost the sense of being rooted, and “sticking it out” with friends when trials come has not been a popular communal value among many believers.
In the local church context, it is easy with the advent of cars to find a new church community when friends and leaders stop giving us what we want, or stop serving our needs, seen only through the lens of what’s best for me. Friendship inside neighborhoods and communities seem to be difficult as well, since walking to stores and appointments isn’t part of our everyday culture. We get into our hollow metal shells and drive past neighbors daily, and most of our friends live a cars drive away.
A lack of rootedness in a particular place has made many friendships a shallow, social media type friendship that can cut you off if you offend, rather than a friendship that stays when things blow up. Friendship in healthy communities ought to include affection, sympathy, empathy, honesty, selflessness, mutual submission, compassion, confrontation, and the ability to royally “blow it” without losing the friendship. Friendships give, receive, and protect.
A lack of friendship may just kill community. When we love the idea of community more than we love people and desire true friendship, community will not thrive. Many seek community because of the good feeling they have in the beginning and the comforts than can be experienced. But for those who love the idea of community more than people, they will quickly run from community when the aura or people within the community stop offering what was desired. Love people more than your idea of community.
I believe church renewal depends on healthy expressions of communities in particular places and neighborhoods. I believe church renewal is dependent on new forms of community rising up being called “the church”. I believe church renewal will birth many forms of organic communities that embody the L’Arche values of community, that break bread together, regularly meet and gather and care for each other’s bodies and souls, and are a place of intimacy within the eucharistic life.
This is how fabrics of care can be created inside blighted hoods or disconnected suburbs, as neighbors form communities to band together to care for one another and for the needs of the under-served. Renewal happens holistically and organically, and until people know that there is a community to belong to, programs and organizations will not be able to have a sustainable impact.
I believe many Christ followers today are experiencing a “disorienting” call to step out of their current church expression and into something much more authentic and mysterious. And within this disorienting call, many of us struggle because we know of no other way to “do” or “be” church besides the modern, institutional approach. In addition, new believers are not embracing the formal way of “doing” church because in many ways it conflicts with their values, and they too are being called into something much more authentic and mysterious. I believe that new expressions of these types of ancient communities will lead the way in church renewal in the 21st century, as families, homes, businesses, and cities of those desiring to regain the life of the kingdom are transformed, and organic expressions of church communities become more of a norm.
I’m thankful for communities such as L’Arche, and leaders such as Jean Vanier, who have humbly and lovingly stepped out of the norm and allowed new forms of community to critique our old forms, and energize us to regain a new/old and prophetic way to live together.
by Ryan Thurman
If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants
Remember those leading you, who spoke the word of God to you, consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.
It takes no special talent to look around and point out things that are numbing and depressing. But becoming keenly and consistently aware of what’s good, true, and beautiful requires we be intentional: we must open our eyes, minds, and hearts, and keep them open.
One way to do this is to recognize and reflect on the people who have marked our lives. I have been thinking about this lately and want to write around this theme. It is a way for me to follow God’s instruction to be a 'remembering' people, who remember God’s work of grace throughout history and in our own lives. This is also a way for me to publicly honor those God has placed in my life.
We live in a time where it is hard to maintain healthy relationships in our lives, from our own family, to our friends. We have been disappointed often by those closest to us and we are aware that we too have failed those we love most. But here is the mystery; although we are weak and frail God chooses to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God to others.
We also are formed from a very early age by a message, that says we need to be independent and self-sufficient. As Frank Sinatra so famously sang, "I made it my way." But I think this is wrong. The Biblical example is that we are to follow and learn by imitation from those who walk with Jesus in an intimate way. We need these spiritual mothers and fathers who can love us and point us to Jesus and allow us to walk with them as they walk with Jesus.
Father Peter Hocken is one of those people in my life. I have gotten to know him over the past few years as we have been part of the Wittenberg 2017 initiative together. At first I was enamored with him as a gifted teacher, and then this grew into deep respect as I watched him interact with others so genuinely and humbly. This past June while we were in Wittenberg, Germany together we moved into friendship as we had different opportunities to sit together and share a meal. One of the last evenings I was able to spend one on one time with him. We walked through the old town and stopped at a cafe and he bought me a Heineken. As we sat together enjoying our beers I was able to ask him many questions about his life. It was one of those events that are sealed into my memory as a transformative moment. Father Peter, at age 85 continues to pour out his life as an offering and a testimony to the love and power of Jesus.
Who have been the people in your life that have helped shape who you are today?
Who are the people in your life whom God might be leading you to pursue and invest in. And who knows, one day may write about the importance of your investment in their life?
Fr Peter Hocken writes about his teaching ministry
In the mid-1990s the Lord gave me a new understanding of the centrality of the second coming of Jesus in the biblical revelation, that His coming in glory is what everything else is preparing for, along with the place of Israel and the Jewish people in the Father’s plan from before creation. I saw that everything the Holy Spirit is doing is preparing for this wonderful consummation. My earlier teaching had focused on the renewal of the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council and on the importance of Christian unity in this renewal. The new light on Israel and the second coming gave a fuller context to that teaching based on a more complete biblical vision. The Lord raises up His Coming in glory and that sheds new light on everything else. Some people have told me I give a “big picture” teaching.
Only in the last three years have I had a website making these teachings of recent years available: www.peterhocken.org
Some of the main areas of this teaching are:
by Ryan Thurman
Yesterday, during the Ash Wednesday service in the Anglican church here in Gozo, we were all surprised, including the priest, to find out that the Catholic Bishop of Gozo had written a letter to us, and sent his secretary to read it on his behalf. In this letter the Bishop shared with us that during this season of Lent he was calling on all the Catholic churches in Gozo to take up a special Lenten offering that would go to the Anglican church to help with the very costly and necessary renovations of St. Paul's Church in Valletta where the Anglican church has been worshipping for 175 years. Can you imagine this? How did this happen when Catholics and Anglicans have such a painful past, each having deeply wronged the other and both historically viewing the other “with suspicion and hostility,”
Why did the Bishop of Gozo make this gesture? Here are a few thoughts:
1) Jesus prayed to the Father that Christians would be one in him and the Father is answering this prayer. (John 17)
2) There is a rising tide of Christians from all traditions whose passion is to offer themselves to see this prayer of Jesus become a growing reality in our day.
3) The Holy Spirit is breaking down barriers and opening up unimaginable possibilities.
4) This Bishop is simply following the example of Pope Francis.
Earlier in the week Pope Francis continued his journey of firsts. He became the first Roman pontiff to set foot in an Anglican parish inside his own Diocese of Rome. He spoke to a crowd of both Catholic and Anglican faithful affirming that things are changing and today Catholics and Anglicans recognize one another as we truly are: brothers and sisters in Christ, through our common baptism.
He exhorted Christians everywhere to follow the example of Paul, who “did not give up in the face of divisions, but devoted himself to reconciliation.” In Corinth, while helping the communities work through division he encountered deep tensions in their relationship, “these did not have the final word,” Francis said, explaining that the two communities eventually reconciled, and the Christians in Corinth eventually helped Paul in his ministry to the poor and needy.
I believe as Christians from different traditions learn to walk together as brothers and sisters in Christ, building friendships of trust and empowered by the Holy Spirit, follow the example of Jesus by humbly serving one another and serving together those in need the merciful face of Jesus will be made visible in our cities and the world will believe that the Father sent Jesus
I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind--
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are--
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.
-John 17:20-23 The Message