On the afternoon of Saturday, August 20, Bishop Bill began his episcopal visit in Attleboro, where he met with the All Saints’ interim rector, The Rev. Charlie Sutton, and his wife, Mrs. Mary Sutton to discuss the current direction of All Saints’ Anglican Church, Attleboro. He then met with The Rev. Ben and Mrs. Katie Giuffrida, catching up with them about their work at Church of the Way, in Cumberland, RI.
On Sunday morning, Bp. Bill preached and celebrated at both of the All Saints’ morning services and throughout the day met with the vestry and search committee to discuss developments in their search for a new rector. Bp. Bill then traveled to Church of the Way for their afternoon service to preach once more and celebrate Holy Communion, after which he met with church plant leaders for a debrief on recent developments in their congregation’s life and mission.
Bishop Bill preached on the gospel reading, Luke 13, but began his sermons with a focus on 1 John 3:8: “This is why the Son of God was revealed, to destroy the works of the Devil.” The Church continues this work through His body, and in the ancient text of the Eucharist, we are reminded that at the cross Jesus defeated Hell and Satan. Our cosmology, our worldview, needs to be clear and biblical – that we do not do battle against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces.
In the reading from Luke, Jesus delivers a crippled woman in the bondage of Satan, and he rebukes the Pharisees for their chastisement of him for helping her. He was willing to go as far as it took, whenever the Spirit led Him, to free those who were under the Devil’s oppression through sickness or demonic infestation. Today, especially in America, the Church hardly talks about these things, much less actually pray for and minister to the demonically oppressed or those who are sick but want to be healed. Often the Church likes to keep control over what they don’t understand so they don’t have to deal with the power of God, which cannot be controlled.
Deliverance and healing ministry was, is, and should be a normal part of the Body’s gift and practice, because it was a normal part of Christ’s gift and practice. And it’s not just through oppression that evil spirits torment believers, but they work in more subtle ways that must be dealt with, often accusing us through our own consciences, never speaking with comfort but only with condemnation. Understanding the schemes of the Enemy is vitally important for our church lives and our prayer ministries.
Please be sure to keep All Saints’ Anglican Church, Attleboro, in your prayers as the parish continues to search for a new rector; pray also for The Church of the Way, as they seek guidance for their next steps in ministry.