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Fr. Victor Schreffler.

After 29 years’ experience with the Church of the Nazarene and Free Methodists, Father Victor Schreffler was drawn to the Scriptural depth and historical richness of the Anglican liturgy.  He is deeply committed to leading God’s people in worship and reaching others for Christ.

“Prayer has always been foundational for our ministry. ‘Do nothing without prayer’, is a slogan we try to live by.  I believe God is intensely interested in the stuff of our lives and does great things in response to believing prayer.  At its core I believe church a praying community, loving God, caring for each other, and reaching their community with the transforming love of Jesus Christ.”

You can hear a number of Fr. Victor's sermons here.

A Tragic Day


Newtown Massacre. "Evil visited this community today" Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy 


There may be those who still doubt the existence of God.  But after today only a fool could doubt the existence of evil.  So much of the time tragedy is blamed on something else.  It’s a naïve comfort to do this.  It sustains the illusion of control. The naïve hope that we can somehow insulate ourselves from the things that are wrong in our world. 

If we can put up enough metal detectors

If we can lock up all the guns

If we can do better psychological profiles

If we can arm all the teachers

If we can only educate the masses

Then the world will get better and we’ll all be safe again.

And we cling tightly to these delusions because they allow us to avoid facing the stark reality that bad things are happening all around us and in many cases there’s not a lot we can do to stop it.

And that’s terrifying.


There’s another thing blaming allows us to do.

We can avoid pluming the ugly darkness of the human soul.  If we can say he had psychological problems; issues with his mom, unhealthy upbringing; dysfunctional family life, then we can limit the damage—contain the problem.  “This was a unique situation and has nothing to do with me.”

The problem is that history, even recent history offers abundant evidence that the human person often displays almost limitless potential for evil.  Five major shootings this year—something like 55 killed.  It’s unthinkably horrible.  Terribly beyond words. 

Over 150 people have been shot dead since Columbine. 



Many of them children

Too many of them small children

How is it that we’ve come to live in a world so far gone as this?

Does it seem that something has changed?

Almost as if a doorway into the abyss has been opened and we are the targets of crimes too horrible to imagine. 

A fellow priest who’s a friend of mine sent out the following words from Psalm 46.  The don’t really help me to make sense of what’s happened—I don’t think there’s any sense to be made from evil. But they do help me to make it through what’s happened, and offer hope to others who might look our way for comfort.


God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.



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Society needs the church

They Need Us!

 I have been reading books on the way God seems to be moving his church forward in this postmodern (=the end of rationalism as the dominant means of knowing); post Christian (=the end of Christendom, no longer assuming a Christian world-view).  (Note: the end of hyper rationalism can be good for Anglicans—we have always made a place for mystery.)

A couple books I’d highly recommend:

1.   Launching Missional Communities by Mike Breen
2.   And, by Hugh Halter and Matt Sma

The first is only available for Kindle app download. This is an app you can put on your computer then buy the book electronically.

There’s far too much to go into in this meeting but I do want to share a couple of concepts very relevant to us.

The first is this:  consumer based church is on its way out.  Churches will not grow in the future by simply providing a more competitive program.  This approach has seemed successful however deeper research suggests that it ultimately only drives transfer growth, not kingdom growth.  This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for excellence in all we do.  We should.  However, there are more fundamental matters that have to be in place and which will ultimately have a larger impact on our effectiveness in ministry.

The second is this: more and more people are looking for significance.  Two streams are converging here. The retiring baby-boomer generation, many who have made a lot of money are now wanting a way to make a difference.  The 20-something’s, having witnessed the emptiness of what boomers defined as success, are looking for a way to genuinely help others.

The third is this: Loneliness is on the rise—epidemic would not be too extreme a description.  A recent article in the Atlantic records the following:
   •   In 1950, less than 10 percent of American households contained only one person. By 2010, nearly 27 percent of households had just one person.
   •   A 2010 AARP survey found that 35 percent of adults older than 45 were chronically lonely, as opposed to 20 percent of a similar group only a decade earlier
   •   In 1985 only 10 percent of Americans had no one with whom to discuss important matters. By 2004, 25 percent had nobody to talk to.

All this clearly indicates a singular conclusion:  Our society needs us—needs the church—now more than ever! 

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Selling Jesus?

In the American church scene, over the last couple decades a lot of resources have been channeled into pitching Jesus. I am completely in favor of being aware of our context and believe it is very important that we connect with our culture.  But i've observed and to some extent participated in a shift that is less than healthy.  The Sunday morning service has become an event. The congregation, an audience, and the altar a stage.  Church is something you watch and its value is measured on the basis of how well 'they' did at engaging and entertaining the consumers who showed up for the show.

Recently I read a quote from someone who said, "You cannot consume your way to discipleship."  I have become convinced that consumerism is not a need we should appease but a disease we should attempt to cure.  Indeed, it's a disease that afflicts almost all of us, so the cure isn't always welcome.

One of the things that draws me to Anglican worship is the core belief that it takes all of us to do the worship. In fact the services are planned so that everyone has a part, written down in black and white, and all are welcomed to join in.  In my studies for ordination to the priesthood I learned that even after all the prayers of consecration offered by the priest during Holy Communion it isn't until the congregation says the AMEN, that it becomes the Eucharistic meal.  We're all needed.

Jesus isn't a product to be marketed but a Lord to be served.  Worship is what we get to do, and we do it for him, the One who has died, risen and ascended into heaven.  And somehow the more we 'get' that, the more completely we become who we were always meant to be.

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Mystery and Meaning

Recover the Mystery - Discover the Essence

Somehow we all know it.  Nobody can ‘prove’ it, at least not in terms of empirical evidence. But still we know. Whether it’s in the feathers of fog sliding down the mountain, embracing the forest in a velvety quiet. Or the silvery pathway of moonlight on the bay. We all know it’s there. Nature is more than an infinite chain of causality. There is a world that’s more than the world. We live in a mystery.

For most of the 20th Century, Christianity was shrunk into propositional verifiable assertions. What could not be understood must not be important. Even God. Not that God wasn’t important. Just that God couldn’t be counted on to behave himself and go about his business in a way that made sense to us. So in an age with room only for reason, church became a rational expression of what we could understand  about God. God was intelligence—intelligence was god. Church was a matter of the mind. The high point was the speech the leader would give; the teaching that would be delivered. Mature Christians were those who amassed great knowledge of the Bible. It’s all in the head. Right doctrine. The essence was thought, and we thought that was all there was. The practice of prayer, we now understood, was a form of cosmic psychotherapy. Calling on God helped us offload some fears and stand on some promises. Maybe it didn't really do anything as such. But it altered the way we understood God, and since understanding was everything, prayer mattered. It helped us feel better.

Feeling better was a good thing.

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Night Winds

We were heading back from a sunset sail to the Golden Gate Bridge and it was fully dark.  It's amazing how quickly the lights of the Bay Bridge, Berkeley, and various highway billboards become a conglomeration of confusing signals.  Nevertheless, we felt confident which way we should head to get back to the marina. I decided to turn the radar on and compare it to the chart to make sure.  They told a different story from what we thought was right.

So I went with what the instruments were telling me.

The crew weren't as confident.  They presented some fairly reasonable arguments to justify their conviction that we needed to bear away to starboard while I was putting her over to port.  I kept telling them: "Trust your instruments," even though I had the same feeling they did about which way we should be heading.

After about 10 minutes we had the evidence we needed. The ruins of the Berkeley Pier were off the starboard bow--right where they should be and not at all where they would have been had we trusted our 'instincts' instead of our instruments.

This is a good metaphor for the place of Scripture in the life of the Christ-follower.  There will be times when our instincts can be very persuasive in calling us to a different course from what the Bible might be saying.  On our boat, my radar was able to see things our eyes couldn't.  My chart plotter is communicating information from a higher source (GPS Satellites high above the planet).  I believe that in the Holy Scriptures we have a perspective that is both higher and more penetrating than what we're capable of on our own. It's a perspective that can make the difference between finding safe harbor and being lost at sea.

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In Defense of Mystery

At the communion table.

For the last few hundred years western civilization has held that the highest, best, and only true way to experience reality is through reason. The five senses were the only reliable interface with reality and anything other than that was viewed with suspicion or condescension. This mentality seeped into the practice of Christian worship to the point where the only thing that was "allowed" was what made sense.  Worship had become more lecture and learning experience than a transformational encounter with the Almighty God through the resurrected Son by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Obviously, this doesn’t do a lot to feed the soul.  The human person is more than a thinking machine, and feeding only the mind leaves a hunger in the heart.

So mystery is making a comeback.  We're beginning to understand that we can’t understand everything there is to understand by merely thinking our way through the abstractions.  Symbol matters, holy mysteries are necessary, and the means of grace can nourish the heart without always traveling though the mind.

Anglicanism is rich in symbol and mystery.  This while being absolutely committed to the authority of Scripture, aligned with the beliefs and practices of the historical Christian faith, and utterly dependent upon the Holy Spirit.  As Anglicans, we sail midstream upon the ancient river of faith and tradition that flows from the earliest days of the Christian Church.

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