Wednesday, February 23, 2011

St. Matthias, Apostle: 24 February 2011

St. Matthias

Little is known of his actual life. We know from the Book of Acts that he was one of the 120 followers of Jesus who were in the upper room. He was selected by lot to take the place of Judas Iscariot as on of the twelve apostles. He preached the Gospel in Judah, and is said to have preached the Gospel in Ethiopia (remembering that when the Christians scattered from Jerusalem because of persecution, they usually sought out Jewish colonies of which there was an ancient one in Ethiopia.), and also preached the Gospel in Colchis (modern Georgia) where he was crucified for his faith. We not in passing, that Georgia, together with Armenia is home of one of the more ancient churches which existed outside the Roman Empire.

Daily Office Readings:
AM: Psalm 80; 1 Samuel 16:1-13; 1 John 2:18-25
PM: Psalm 33; 1 Samuel 12:1-5; Acts 20:17-35
Eucharistic Readings:
Psalm 15
Acts 1:15-26
John 15:1,6-16

Collect: Dear Lord, you raised up Matthias to take the place of Judas Iscariot as a witness to your name amongst the twelve. Grant that your church would not follow false teachers, but in this and every generation their would be faithful men to lead us in your ways; This we ask through Yeshuah haMoshiach, who livers and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Martin Luther, presbyter, reformer: 18 February 2011

Martin Luther was born November of 1483. Educated by his father to be a lawyer, instead he became a monk. Luther, as many saints had a great knowledge of his sinfulness and unworthiness before God. He challenged the Roman Catholic Church on the sale of indulgences, and promoted the view of justification by faith, and the priesthood of all believers. Condemned and excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church, he refused to recant unless proved wrong by scriptures.

Luther, a great scholar encouraged the German Catholic custom of choral singing and wrote many hymns in German, the most well known being, “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” based on Psalm 91. In addition to hymns, Luther (influenced by the ideas of Hus) translated much of the Old and New Testaments into German, and also translated the church services into German. As well he provided two catechisms to guide people in faith. Participating in the dissolution of Monasteries, he took as a wife an ex nun, whom he loved dearly. As many in the church, he made mistakes, but his main focus was on God, and his ideas continue to affect the church even today. He is not only the lead man in the reformation, but the main cause of the counter-reformation as well.

Psalm 46
Isaiah 55: 6-11
Romans 3:21-28
John 15:1-11

Collect: Dear Lord, you raised up Martin Luther to challenge the church in its errors to reform its ways. Guide the church today that she may always be ready to correct errors and seek you in your word and sacraments. This we ask in the name of our Lord Yeshuah haMoshiach, who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cyril and Methodus: 14 February 2011

Cyril and Methodius were respectively born in Thessalonica in 827 and 826. There father died when they were about fourteen and their uncle, took over caring for them. Under his guidance, Cyril came to Constantinople to study in the University, and Methodius became an abbot (head of a monastery) in Constantinople. Cyril was particularly adept at linguistics and spoke Greek, Latin, Slavonic and Arabic among others, and began teaching.

In 826 Prince Rastislav of Greater Moravia asked the Emperor and Patriarch of Constantinople to send missionaries for his Slavic subjects. Cyril and Methodius were chosen and began by training helpers, and then began translating the Bible into Slavonic, for which they devised the Glagolictic Alphabet which contained letters for sounds found in Slavonic, but not in Greek. This Alphabet is still used by the Russian and other Orthodox churches today. The Cyrillic alphabet used in Russian and in the Balkan Peninsula today is derived from the Glagolictic. Unfortunately they were opposed by German ecclesiastical authorities who opposed the Slavonic mass.

The brothers wisely sought the help of the Roman Church in their endeavors, which helped the mission to continue. Rome sent them Bishops to ordain some of their helpers, who celebrated the Eucharist in Old Church Slavonic. Cyril, feeling the time of his death was approaching, became a monk and died shortly thereafter on 14 February 869. Methodius continued the work in Pannonia, which led to conflict with the Archbishop of Salzburg. The Pope made Methodius Archbishop of Sirmium (an older title) to supersede the authority of the Bishop of Salzburg. Sirmium included not only Greater Slavonia, but Panonia and Serbia as well. The Archbishop of Salzburg was so annoyed that he managed to get Methodius imprisoned for two and one half years. Through the influence of the Pope, he regained his freedom and authority, but not the right to celebrate the Eucharist in Slavonic. After Methodius’s death in 885 most of his followers were banished and ended up in the Bulgarian Empire, where under the authority of Constantinople they continued their work, which eventually extended as far east as Kiev. This work also laid the foundation of ideas later to reach Jan Huss, Martin Luther and others of preaching to the people in their own language.

The story of Cyril and Methodius is a sad story of how petty jealousy, politics, lack of missionary zeal, and a lack of considering the pastoral needs of the people can get in the way of our true mission. To the credit of Cyril and Methodius, they laid down the groundwork of evangelising Eastern Europe in language understood by the people. They sowed the seed, others reaped the harvest. We should learn to persevere from them, and also learn not to let political expedients derail us from the imperative of proclaiming the Gospel.

Collect: Lord our God, you raised Cyril and Methodius to proclaim the Gospel in a hostile land and gave them intellectual gifts to translate, create an alphabet, and teach, so raise up in this and every land bishops and ministers who are willing to persevere to the end in proclaiming the Gospel of our Lord Yeshuah haMoshiach. This we ask through Yeshua haMoshiach who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)

Psalm 69:8-18
Jeremiah 26:12-15
Ephesians 3:1-7
Mark 16:15-20

Friday, February 4, 2011

Martyrs of Japan: 5 February 2011

The Martyr of Japan have a story to tell of what it truly is to be Christian. Jesuits first brought the faith to Japan in the 16th century and were followed soon after by the Franciscans. The church grew rapidly, and it is estimated that by the end of the 16th century that there were more than three hundred thousand believers in Japan. Unfortunately there were problems due to rivalries between Franciscan and Jesuits and because of intrigues by both the Spanish and Portuguese governments.

Concerned, the Japanese government had 6 Franciscans and twenty of their converts, crucified and then stabbed at Nagasaki, on 5 February 1597. A nobleman tempted the youngest, a boy to renounce his faith, but instead the boy asked to be shown his cross and embraced it. The church grew. From 1614 until 1854 a programme of persecution began, in which Christians were crucified, buried alive, tortured. Churches were destroyed. But the Japanese Christians proved true martyrs indeed (the word martyr means witness). Despite a lack of clergy and contact with the official church, there were still practicing Christians, worshipping underground, when contact with the west was reestablished.

Two things are to be learned. First, we should all learn from the example from the Japanese Christians, and persevere, no matter what. The second thing we should learn, is that it is very important to concentrate on establishing indigenous pastors from early on, so that if the missionaries are driven out, the church may continue on in its fullness.

Collect: : Heavenly Father, despite much suffering, your church in Japan continued through persecutions. Grant that we observing their perseverance, would have the courage to follow where they lead the way, proclaiming Christ with our very lives. This we ask in his most blessed name. Amen,

Psalm 16:5-11
Lamentations 3:46-48, 52-59
Galatians 2:19-20
Mark 8:34-38

Cornelius the Centurion: 4 February 2011

Cornelius was a centurion, that is an officer in charge of 100 men. He was considered to be the first gentile convert to the church, an event of great importance, as to this point the church was all Jewish.

Cornelius was already a sympathizer with the Jewish faith, and through a dream was lead to send for St. Peter. St. Peter, as well was guided by a vision that he should accompany the servant and travel to Cornelius’s house. Peter was surprised to see that the Holy Spirit fell on the whole household, and suggested that since they were saved by faith, and had received the Holy Spirit, then the waters of baptism could not be denied to them. Cornelius went on to be bishop of either Caesarea or Scepsis in Mysia, or possibly of both at different times.

Collect: Blessed Saviour, by dreams and visions you ensured that Cornelius the Centurion would be the first Christian of the Goyim. Grant that your Spirit would continue to work in miraculous ways to invite all Jews and Goyim into the kingdom. 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.

Psalm 67
Isaiah 56:6-8
Acts 11:1-18
Luke 13:22-29

My apologies. St. Anskar for yesterday was misfiled.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Presentation of Messiah in the Temple: 2 February 2011

Today is forty days after Christmas, when Jesus was presented in the Temple and when Miriam was purified. It is another case showing that Jesus completed the law, but also a link between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. It has been revealed to Simeon that he will not die until he has seen the Messiah, and he is waiting in the Temple, having been sent there by the Holy Spirit that day. Encountering the baby Jesus, Simeon picks him up, saying, “Lord you now have set your servant free, for I can go in peace as you have promised, for my eyes have the Saviour, whom you have promised to set the world free,” identifying for us and for many who Jesus was, and what he was to do. He warned Miriam that she would suffer. Anna, too prophesied over the life of Jesus, and Miriam and Yosef were astounded.

For this feast, we often start with a candlelight procession. (The Feast is also called Candlemass). We march throughout the town and neighbourhood, to proclaim that Jesus, the light of the world has come to set the nations free. Let us be like Simeon and Anna, quick to recognise the saviour, and like them proclaim him to the nations.

Exodus 13:2
Psalm 84:1-6
Luke 2:22-40

Father, as this day Yeshuah was presented in the temple, grant that our Lord Yeshuah would present us to you that we may serve you truly in this world and the next. This we ask through Yeshua haMoshiach who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen.