Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 329– January 25 389 or 390) was Archbishop of Constantinople in the 4th century. He greatly influenced Greek and Latin speaking theologians and his work continues to influence theologians today. He and the two brothers, Gregory of Nyssa, and Basil the great are known as the Cappadocian fathers, and together with Basil the Great and John Chrysostom are the great hierarchs in the Eastern Church.
Gregory’s parents were wealthy, and his mother, Nona converted his father Gregory to Christianity, and Gregory came to be Bishop of Nazianzus. Gregory the son, after studying at home studied in Nazianzus, Caesarea, Alexandria and Athens. On the way to Athens, during a storm which frightened him, Gregory promised God he would serve him if God would save him. He continued to teach in Athens before returning home.
His father desired to ordain him to the presbyterate, so Gregory could help him, but Gregory, preferring the monastic life, resented this, and left, living for a short time with Basil the great, who convince him to return and help his father. Upon his return, he found divisions, which he was able to heal through his gifts of diplomacy and oratory.
By this time, the emperor Julian had declared himself to be opposed to Christianity. Gregory wrote Invectives against Julian stating that the emperor should be opposed through love and patience. He also stated that this was a form of theosis, in which we become more like God. Julian worked against those who opposed him until his death during a war against the Persians. Gregory and Basil then embarked in a rhetorical war against the Arians, and clearly beat the Arians. This success led them to be elected Bishops.
Basil was elected as Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, and ordained Gregory as Bishop of Sasima, which he had newly created so that Gregory could aid him. Gregory was unhappy in this position, desiring to return to the contemplative life, and not wishing to be involved in politics as Basil’s pawn. Instead he went to help his father as co-adjutor of Nazianzus until his father’s death. He continued to work in the area, but refused to be named bishop, living a simple life.
In 379, the synod of Antioch under Melatus asked Gregory to go to Constantinople to reestablish Orthodoxy as opposed to Arianism. A cousin offered him a villa, most of which he converted into a church (Anastasia, or Resurrection) from which he delivered powerful sermons on the Trinity and Unity of the Godhead. His opponents fearing his popularity attacked and entered the church, injuring Gregory and killing another bishop. The situation was confused, with Gregory staying (convinced by his followers), but with Arian priests in some of the churches, and remained so until the arrival of the Emperor, Theodosius, who had Gregory enthroned as patriarch of Constantinople, taking the place of Demophilus.
Theodosius and Gregory called the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 381 for the express purpose of uniting the empire behind Trinitarian Christianity. After the death of the presiding Bishop, Gregory took over the council. In order to prevent division, Gregory renounced his position as Patriarch, and after giving a farewell speech, he returned to Nazianzus as Bishop, struggling with heretics and poor health. Eventually, finding himself to weak to continue his work, he appointed a new bishop to serve Nazianzus and retired to his parents estate where he lived for another five years until his death on 25 January 389 (or 390).
Gregory’s greatest role was in the defense of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and in Pneumatology. He gave us the term procession referring to the Holy Spirit and emphasized that Jesus did not cease being God, nor did he lose his divine attributes when he became man.
Collect: Heavenly Father, you strengthened Gregory of Nazianzus through sickness and persecution. As he was on fire with love for you, so train us up that we may be aflame with your love and share it with all the world. This we ask through Yeshua haMoshiach who lives and reins with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Timothy was from Lystra in Asia minor, son of a Greek father and a Jewish mother, who was a believer in the Lord Yeshua. His name means honouring God. The church in Lystra and Iconium thought well of him, and because of the Jews and his Jewish mother, Paul had him circumcised. Timothy was a devoted companion of St. Paul and was entrusted by him to represent him to the Corinthians,to strengthen the faith of the converts, and the Thessalonicans to encourage them in persecution. He also was Paul’s representative to Ephesus, and is counted by Eusebius to be the first Bishop of Ephesus. He apparently died at about the age of eighty, stoned to death, at about the age of 80 in the year 97, when preaching the Gospel during a pagan procession
Titus, like Timothy was a constant companion of Paul. Titus was a Greek who accompanied Paul to Jerusalem at the time of the Ecumenical Council. Titus, like Timothy went to Corinth to represent St. Paul. Later St. Paul sent him to Crete to organize the churches there, and is counted as the first Bishop of Crete by Eusebius. The last we hear of Titus is a visit to Dalmatia. He died at the age of 95 in about the year 107.
Though both young, St. Paul commends them with great responsibility in administration and in proclaiming the Gospel. Both are commemorated the day after the Conversion of St. Paul since their ministry intertwined with theirs, and because he was their mentor.
Collect: Blessed Lord, you raised up Timothy and Titus to be Bishops in your church. So raise up in this and every generation Bishops who will follow the pure teachings of your blessed word that the church would grow in faith and knowledge and love of you. This we ask in the name of Yeshua haMoshiach who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen.
Acts 15:22-26, 30-33, 16:1-5
(If the Eucharist is not celebrated today, used the lesson from Acts at Matins)
Monday, January 24, 2011
The account of the Conversion of St. Paul is repeated several times in the Book of Acts. Paul was a citizen of Rome, from Tarsus. He was also a Pharisee, of the tribe of Benjamin and studies under Gamaliel, the most famous Rabbi of his time.
Paul was a true Pharisee, he loved God, but saw that salvation was earned by obeying the 613 Mitzvot (commandments) found in the Tanakh or Old Testament. Paul had it reversed, that we are saved because we obey, and he did his best to obey, to the point of witnessing the martyrdom of Stephan, and by getting warrants to throw Christians in prison, and even have them killed.
On his way to Damascus, he has an experience to transform his life forever. He comes face to face with the risen Lord, who even suggests that Saul might be sympathetic to Christians (why are you kicking against the goads? Says Jesus to Paul). He who was spiritually blind comes face to face with Yeshua and is struck blind literally. We who are spiritually blind need to be careful when we say we see, for our sin will be greater. Paul realizes something is going on, and he fasts for three days. On the third day, Ananias, a follower of the way is directed by the Lord to go heal Saul. Ananias has some misgivings, but obeys the Lord. Saul recovers his sight and is immediately baptized. He has come from trying to be saved through obedience to obeying because he is saved. Would that all Christians would learn to thank the Lord through his obedience.
Paul goes form persecuting the church, to proclaiming Yeshua as Messiah, a Messiah not only for Jews, but for Goyim (gentiles) as well, the true saviour of the world. Paul was a prolific writer and evangelist. Thirteen Epistles were written by Paul. He also traveled extensively in what is now Syria, Turkey, Greece, Crete, and Malta. We know he planned on visiting Spain, and probably did. There is also some evidence he may have made it to Britain as well. Only St. Thomas made it further than Paul amongst the Apostles.
Paul talked about a thorn in his flesh, which God would not cure, telling Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” I suggest that the thorn in the flesh (it has been identified with everything from poor eyesight to homosexuality) was deliberately not identified, so that we could each say, God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness in that area.
Whether we write, or preach, or go telling others about Yeshua, we need to have Paul’s enthusiasm, and his thankfulness, and great desire to spread the Good News to all nations.
Collect of the Day: Lord, as we remember your appearance to St. Paul and his marvelous conversion on this day, so move in our hearts that we would share his passion to proclaim the Gospel. This we ask in the name of Yeshua haMoshiach who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)
If there is no celebration of the Eucharist today, use the lesson from Acts with matins
Friday, January 21, 2011
St. Vincent of Zaragoza (died 304)
St. Vincent was born in Huesca, Spain. He lived in Zaragoza and served as Deacon to the Bishop Valerius. According to legend, when he and Valerius were brought to trial, that Valerius could not respond due to a speech impediment. Receiving the Bishops permission to speak, Vincent launched into a fervent defence of the faith. Even his gaoler was converted. Vincent suffered many severe torments, before dying without renouncing his Lord.
Collect: Heavenly Father, as you raised Vincent to be deacon in Saragossa, and gave him eloquence to proclaim and strength to die for his faith, so fill us with your spirit that we would always be ready to proclaim the Gospel and to live and die for Yeshua. In the name of Yeshua we pray, Amen. (red)
Thursday, January 20, 2011
St. Agnes (c. 291-21 January 304)
Agnes was born to a noble family in Rome in about the year 291. She was raised as a Christian and was martyred at the tender age of 12. A Roman Prefect had decided that she was to marry his son. When Agnes refused, the prefect ordered that she be put to death. As it was forbidden to kill virgins, she was dragged to the brothel, but the men who attempted to rape her were struck blind. When they took her to the stake to burn her, the wood would not burn. She was finally beheaded by the sword, cheerfully dying for her Lord.
It is said that her martyrdom helped end martyrdoms in Rome, as people were disgusted that paganism had to be preserved by the death of one so young.
Collect: Lord Yeshua, who gave even children the strength to stand up for the true faith in face of persecution. Give us Agnes’s child like faith that we may always witness as to what you have done for us. This we ask through Yeshua haMoshiach, who lives and reins with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)
Song of Solomon 2:10-13
2 Corinthians 6:16-18
(readings may be omitted if no celebration of the Eucharist. )
Fabian, attending the election of the new Bishop of Rome became a surprise candidate when a dove landed on his head. The people took this as an omen, and he was elected Bishop of Rome in January of 236, a position which he held until his martyrdom on 20 January 250.
Fabian turned out to be an excellent administrator, and set up the parish structure still in use in Rome today. As well he appointed 14 men to write the lives of the martyrs. He also divided the city into diaconates, and basically set up a structure that was sound nad enduring and would help the church survive the coming persecution. Fabian was one of the first martyrs to die under the persecution by Decius, the first persecution of the church which was empire wide. His courage during his beating and death inspired many, and his tomb is still with us today.
Collect: O Lord of the Universe, who used a dove to single out Fabien as Bishop of Rome. Grant us power to remember those before us and imitate them in giving all for Christ. This we ask through Yeshua haMoshiach, who lives and reins with you, one God in glory everlasting. Amen (red)
2 Esdras 2:42-48
1 Corinthians 15:31-36, 44b-49
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Miles Coverdale (c1488-20 Jan. 1569) was a Bible translator during the time of the reformation. He was born in Yorkshire, studied at Cambridge and was a priest at Norwich. Later he joined the Austin Fryers and left after defending Robert Barnes in a heresy trial. From 1525 through 1538 he stayed on the continent working on his translation. Part of this time was spent working with William Tyndale, whose translation of the New Testament was used in Coverdale’s translation. This Bible was smuggled into England and was very popular. After Cramer convince Henry VIII that an English Bible would be a good thing, he put Coverdale to work on editing. Coverdale’s first work was weak, in part because it was translated from Latin, not from the original translation. Coverdale’s work on the Psalms in the Great Bible was very good, and these became the Psalms used in the Anglican Book of Common prayer, making these versions very well known even to today. After Cromwell was executed, Coverdale went back into exile, and did not return until 1548. He was made Chaplain to King Edward, and made Bishop of Exeter, which role he fulfilled well. After the succession of Queen Mary, he was deposed and again went into exile. After Queen Mary’s death, he returned to England in 1559, and server as rector of St. Magnus’s, but was not returned to his Bishopric, probably because of conflicts with Puritans regarding vestments. He was a popular preacher and introduced German theological ideas to England. He died in London and is buried there.
His chief contribution was the translation of the Psalter used in the Book of Common Prayer.
Dear Lord, you raised up Miles Coverdale to work on presenting the Bible to the people of England in a language which they could understand. As he suffered much in this work, yet was faithful to you and your word, raise up in this and every generation men who are good and holy with a mission to help Christians understand your word. This we ask in the name of Yeshuah who revealed the Tanakh to the Jews. Amen. .
Confession of St. Peter
On this day, we remember not so much St. Peter, but his confession recognizing Jesus as Messiah. All the disciples and many others recongnised that Jesus was a holy man or a prophet, but it was Peter who specifically made the jump to recognise Jesus as the Messiah who was sent by God. Jesus’ answer tells us something about our relationship to God. It is not through brains or intelligence that we recognise, but by the Holy Spirit that we come to know him as Messiah.
Today is also the first day of the week of prayers for Christian Unity.
Heavenly Father, as we remember Peter’s recognition of Yeshua as the Messiah, help us to truly recognize him as well in heart and mind that we may follow Peter, walking on water, healing, raising the dead, and proclaiming the Gospel. This we ask in the name of Yeshua haMoshiach who lives and governs with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)
1 Peter 5:1-4;
Monday, January 17, 2011
St. Anthony the Great (251-356)
Anthony was born to wealthy Christian parents in Coma and lower Egypt. One day on his way to church, he was meditating on Jesus saying, “sell of you have, follow me and you will have riches in heaven (Mathew 19:21), At church, the same scripture was used, and as a result, Anthony at the age of 34 looked to the needs of his sister and sold the rest. The land he owned was given to the tenants who worked it. The money he made was given to the poor and he left to live in the desert.
He stayed in the desert for thirteen years, during which time he was faced with temptations by boredom, laziness and images of women. He then moved into a tomb and sealed it. Beaten in the body by the devil, he was found unconscious and taken to a church. After recovering there, he went out to the desert again but to an even more isolated place. Visions of various animals appeared to him to scare him, but he just laughed at them and told them they had no power over Christ. During this time he was locked in an abandoned fort and his only communication was through a crack in the wall. Eventually he emerged, peaceful and enlightened. He went to Alexandria to seek martyrdom and witnessed to many, but was not martyred. He returned to his fort for a while, but so many people came to see him that it interfered with his prayer life, so he moved yet again, deeper into the desert. He found a pool and palm trees and settled there. There he grew a garden and wove mats made of reeds. Many would come to visit him, but actually conversed with members of the community which gathered around him. A vision of an angel ispired his form of dress from here on, and he was never bored again. He prophesied the persecution of the church at this time. In 338 he was called by Athanasius to help him refute Aryanism.
Knowing his time was near, he divided his few possessions and charged the monks to bury him secretly so that his body would not be divided up. They obeyed and to this day the site of his burial is unknown. While not the founder of monastism, or anchorites, his life was an inspiration to both. He was well known for establishing monasteries in Egypt.
Collect: Dear Lord, you raised up Anthony to be a shining light in the desert, encouraging those suffering persecution, and strengthening those tempted by Aryanism, so raise up in this and every generation encouragers to strengthen us in true doctrine. This we ask in the name of Yeshua haMoshiach, who lives and reigns with you and Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)
Lessons: (omitted if no celebration of the Eucharist)
Psalm 91:9-16 or 1
1 Peter 5:6-10
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Hillary of Poitiers (c.315-368)
Hillary was born to well off pagan parents in the city of Poitiers. Unusual for his time, in addition to having a good education in Latin, he also studied Greek. Because of knowing Greek he was exposed to the scriptures, and came to know Jesus, and to know who he was, a son of the living God.
Married and the father of one daughter, Hillary was elected by the Christians of Poitiers as Bishop in 353 (Celibacy was not a requirement for many more years). Embroiled in arguments about Arians and removing Arian Bishops, Hillary was exiled to Phrygia. Not one to waste his time, he visited the churches in the area and studied scriptures and put his time to good use. After four years he was sent back to Poitiers because the emperor (an Arian) because “he was a troublemaker and sower of discord, and disturber of the orient.” (In other words, Hillary was gaining ground against the Arians through his preaching.) Hillary took a leisurely trip through Greece and Italy preaching against the Arians as he went.
Hillary wrote several works against the Arians, and several works on the Trinity and on the two natures of Christ. He also brought back hymns from the east, translating them and wrote some of his own compositions. He is regarded as the father of Western hymnody, and also known as the Athanasius of the west. One of his disciples was St. Martin of Tours. Hillary died peacefully in 368, possibly on the 13th of January.
(In passing: Arians did not believe that Jesus was God. They believed he was a higher creation than man, but beneath God. Today the Jehovah’s Witnesses are an example of Arianism)
Collect: Dear Lord, as Hillary of Poitiers stood against heresy, and defended the true faith, help us also to stand against heresy that we may always stand for truth. This we ask through Yeshua haMoshiach who lives and reins with you and Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)
Readings for the Eucharist If no celebration of the Eucharist, follow the normal readings for Matins and Vespers.
Psalm 37:3-6, 32-33
1 John 2:18-25
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
The Epiphany, also known as the theophany is an ancient celebration of the church. Epiphany means manifestation, and theophany means manifestation of God. As celebrated originally, Epiphany had a four fold theme, the birth of Christ, the visit of the Magi, the Baptism of Christ, and the first miracle of Christ. Epiphany was celebrated before Christmas, but when the church began celebrating Christmas, this theme was removed from Epiphany except in Armenia, which still does not celebrate Christmas..
With the removal of Christmas, the main theme came to be the visit of the Magi, which occurred when Jesus was about two years old. In fact the gold presented by the magi probably financed the trip to Egypt. The theme of the magi is important to us, because it is when the gentiles (goyim) first come to worship Christ. Many people believe that the Magi were from Persia, and recognised the coming presence of the Messiah from the book and other writings of Daniel.
The theme of the Baptism of Christ is kept for the Sunday following Epiphany and is a highly appropriate day for baptisms. In our church, in year D we observe the Wedding of Cana on the following Sunday.
The season of Epiphany concentrates on manifestations of Jesus, particularly in healing. It is also a time in which we emphasise the need and importance of evangelism.
Collect: Lord God almighty, by the light of a star you guided the Magi into the presence of Yeshua to give him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. So let the light of Yeshua shine out through our hearts, that those around us would be drawn to your presence to render you homage and accept you as Lord and Saviour. This we ask in the blessed name of Yeshua haMoshiach. Amen. (gold)