Friday, March 25, 2011

The Annuncition: March 25, 2011

One of the oldest Feasts of the church, the Annunciation celebrates Gabriel the Archangel's appearance to Miriam (Mary. When reckoning the date for Christmas in the 4th Century, the early church based the date of Christmas as being nine months form this date. Miriam's response to the Angel, "be it unto me according to your word" marks Yeshua's entry into the world, and should be our answer to the Lord, when he calls upon us. It is also a reflection of the Lord's Prayer, "your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven." May we always answer the Lord, "be it unto me according to your word."

We beseech you o Lord, so fill our hearts with your grace that as we have known the incarnation of your son our Lord Yeshua HaMoshiach by the message of an angel, that so by his cross and passion we may be brought unto the glory of his resurrection. And what we ask for ourselves, we ask for all those for whom Messiah died, that those who sin against you would come to love you, and that those who love you would be drawn nearer to you. To the glory of God the Father, Amen. (Blue)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gregory the Illuminator, Bishop, Apostle

Gregory the Illuminator was born in about 257 in Armenia. After his father assassinated the King of Armenia, Gregory was taken to Caesarea to avoid being killed and was raises as a Christian. Gregory eventually returned to Armenia, where he was imprisoned by the King, Tiridates III for around fourteen years. He was called forth from the pit to pray for the King’s healing (the King had become insane). After Tiridates III was healed, he became a Christian in 301 and the nobles soon followed, followed by the peasants. The King also declared Armenia to be a Christian country in the year 301 making Armenia the first Christian nation. Gregory built his cathedral at Echmiadzin, which is still the principal church of the Armenian church.

Although several apostles had visited Armenia and converted some Armenians, it was under Gregory’s leadership that the country truly became Christian. Gregory set up a hereditary office of Catholicos, or chief Bishop (his son, Aristaces, became Bishop after his retirement.) In addition to preaching in Armenia, Gregory also baptised the Kings of Albania, Georgia, and Lazes.

Gregory retired to live in the wilderness with a small group of monks, where he remained until his death on the 23rd of March 331.

Job 42:10-12
Acts 17:22-31
Matthew 5:11-16

Heavenly Father, you raised up Gregory to proclaim the Gospel in Armenia and to light up central Asia. Grant us o Lord, people willing to go to the ends of the world for the sake of the Gospel. This we ask through Yeshuah haMoshiach our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Thomas Cranmer, Bishop, Martyr, Liturgist: 21 March 2011

Thomas Cranmer (2 July 1489 – 21 March 1556)

Born 1489 in Notinghamshire, Cranmer followed a typical career of younger brother. Since his brother John inherited the family estate, Cranmer and his younger brother were prepared for lives as clerics. Fourteen years old, he came to Jesus College, Cambridge, where he took some eight years to earn his Bachelor of Arts. In 1515 he received his MA and became a fellow of Jesus College. He lost his fellowship after marrying, but regained it after his wife died. He received his Doctorate in Divinity in 1526, having gained Holy Orders in 1520. In June 1527 he met the king, whom he described as the kindest of princes.

From 1527 he became involved with the King’s divorce. During these proceedings, he met some of the continental reformers in 1531. In 1532 he was appointed ambassador to the Holy Roman Empire, and in travelling with the Emperor f rom area to area was able to see the reformation in action. In addition to meeting several reformers, he ended up marrying Ossiander’s niece. Sadly for him, he was unable to convince the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles to support King Henry’s annulment from Catherine (Catherine was Charles’ aunt).

In 1532, he was notified that he would be the next Archbishop of Canterbury and was so consecrated on the 30th of March of 1532. He continued to work on the king’s divorce, with the affair becoming more complicate due to Anne Bolyn’s pregnancy and her secret marriage to Henry VIII. Cranmer declared Henry’s marriage void, and the Pope excommunicated Henry and his advisors. Life was difficult for Cranmer as many of his bishops did not support him in this new role. His life also continued to be made difficult because of the King’s urgent desire for a male heir. He was also not particularly astute in dealing with the bishops.

Fifteen thirty six saw the publishing of the 10 Articles of religion which pleased and annoyed both sides of the debate. The Institution of a Christian Man was printed in response, but the king insisted on changes. Cranmer was the most vigorous in fighting against the King’s changes, especially relating to faith alone and predestination. From 1536 to 1544 there were many ups and downs involving Cranmer which he survived. In 1544 he printed the first legal services in Enlgish, being the Exhortation and the Great Litany, which is still found in many Anglican prayer books today (and indeed in the liturgy used by the diocese of La Porte). Fifteen forty-seven saw the introduction of the Book of Homilies to all parishes (4 written by Cranmer). As many of the reformers were suffering persecution, Cranmer invited them to England and put them to work training clergy. (Reina and Valera who composed the first Bible in Spanish were among these).

It is unknown just how much Cranmer actually wrote in the Book of Common Prayer of 1549. His sources include the Sarum Rite, Hermann von Wied, Ossiander, Justus Jonas (and several other Lutherans), and QuiƱones. What we do know is that he was the final editor of this and the 1552 Book of Common Prayer (not used because of Mary accession to the throne. In 1550 he printed an Ordinal, and in the same year: Defence of the True and Catholic Doctrine of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ , the only book actually printed in his own name. In 1552 he came out with the Articles of Religion.

After Mary took power, Cranmer was imprisoned and during the course of his imprisonment, recanted his Protestant faith. On the day of his death however, he recanted his recantations, and was burned at the stake, placing his right hand in the centre of the fire as a sign of repentance regarding the written recantations.

Cranmer’s greatest influence on the church was the Book of Common Prayer, which was the basis of all Anglican Books of Common Prayer into the 1960’s. His Eucharist also found its way into the Methodist liturgy, and his marriage and burial services are the base services of many denominations. The English used in his BCP has affected the English language as much as the language of the King James Bible and Shakespeare. His second work of genius was transforming morning prayer and evening prayer into something that could be used by any family or by individuals. His third act of genius was slow transformation, which produced a book which has lasted over 450 years.

Psalm 142 or 124
1 Corinthians 3:9-14
John 15:20--16:1

Collect: Heavenly Father, you granted to your Bishop Thomas Cranmer great gifts in ordering the worship and prayer life of the English people, and though he slipped led him to repent of his recantations. Grant that we would truly seek to worship you in the spirit of holiness, and be ready to give up our lives for you. This we ask through Yeshuah, who lives and reins and is worshipped with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (red)

Friday, March 18, 2011

St. Joseph: March 19, 2011

We know little of the life of St. Joseph. We know, from the offering at the temple that he was a poor man, and we are told by the Bible that he was an honourable man, who did not wish to see his betrothed disgraced (The penalty would have been stoning for her). We do know that he was a man who obeyed the Lord. Each time God spoke to him in dreams, Joseph immediately followed through. As he is not mentioned much in the New Testament, it is believed that he died before Jesus began his public ministry. We do believe that he must have been a very special man to have been given the job of being Jesus’ step father. We pray that we would be like him, obeying the Lord.

Psalm 89:1-29 or 89:1-4,26-29;
2 Samuel 7:4,8-16;
Romans 4:13-18;
Luke 2:41-52

Collect: Heavenly Father, you raised up Yosef to be a step Father to our Lord Yeshuah haMoshiach. Grant that every father would be as faithful as Yosef in his sacred responsibility of modeling your fatherhood to us. This we ask through the same Yeshuah haMoshiach our Lord, who called Yosef, “father.” Amen. (white)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Cyril of Jerusalem: 18 March 2011

Cyril was born in Jerusalem in about the year 315 and became bishop in about 349. He lived in tumultuous times, and was exiled three times, once by the Athanasians and twice by the Arians. He attended the Council of Constantinople in 381 and supported the Athanasian view of the Trinity.

Cyril is important to us chiefly for three things. It is believed that he was the author of the precursor to the Nicene Creed we use today. Secondly, he organized activities for pilgrims and much of what we do during Holy Week comes from what was done in Jerusalem during his Episcopate. (An account by a Spanish nun is available here: Thirdly, he is the author of a series of lectures (18 for Lent and five for Easter) given to candidates for baptism and the newly baptised. These probably do not exist in the original form, but he is the original author. (They can be ordered here: or viewed here:
Psalm 122
Ecclesiasticus 47:8-10
Hebrews 13:14-21
Luke 24:44-48
Collect: Heavenly Father, you raised up Cyril as Patriarch of Yerushalayim to guide Bishops and Presbyters in their calling to be teachers and ministers of the sacraments. Raise up in this and every generation Bishops and Presbyters who will faithfully instruct your people in practical Christian faith and living. This we ask through the author and perfecter of our faith, Yeshuah haMoshiach our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St. Patrick, Evangelist to Ireland: 17 March 2011

St. Patrick is the most well known of the Irish saints, a true hero of the church. Sadly his day has become more known for revelry and green beer than truly celebrating what he did.

The exact time and place of his birth is unknown. Guesses range from Wales to Kilpatrick, Scotland. What is know is that his father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest. They were according to various sources either Romans, or Romanised Celts.

At the age of 14, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish pirates (common at the time) and taken to Ireland where he herded sheep as a slave. During his captivity his prayer life grew, and at about the age of 20, guided by a dream, he found a ship willing to carry him and made his escape. (I find it appropriate that we celebrate another man guided by dreams ((St. Joseph)) in two days.)

He studied to be a presbyter, and eventually was ordained as Bishop. Guided once again by dreams, these expressing the need of the Irish for his presence, he traveled back to Ireland to proclaim the Gospel. Patrick successfully preached the Gospel, aided by disciples he made in Ireland.

Of the legends attributed to him, he used the clover to preach the Gospel. When explaining the trinity he would pluck a clover and ask, is it one leaf or three (botanically speaking it is actually one leaf), and ask the Irish whether it was one or three. Easter at one point fell the same night as a Celtic festival, but Patrick beat them to the draw by lighting a bonfire first. Apparently the king’s men were unable to put it out. Several songs are attributed to Patrick, the most famous being his Lorica or the Deer Cry. It is said when one of the kings was out to capture Patrick, he and his disciples sang this song, and the king’s men only saw deer as they passed by them.

The true miracle behind Patrick’s life though is his great forgiveness. Anyone who can serve as a slave for some 6 years and return to the people who enslaved him to tell them about Jesus shows the true power of forgiveness. Would that we were all so eager to forgive those who sin against us, and to proclaim the Gospel.
Psalm 97:1-2,7-12
Ezekiel 36:33-38
1 Thessalonians 2:2b-12
Matthew 28:16-20
Collect: : Heavenly Father; who gave Patrick the strength to persevere and power to forgive his enemies, give us the strength and ability to forgive those who wrong us, and willingness of heart to tell them of the great love of Yeshuah. This we ask in his name, who lives and governs with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)

Friday, March 11, 2011

St. Gregory, Bishop of Rome: 12 March 2011
St. Gregory, Bishop of Rome

Little is know of Gregory’s younger years, except that Italy was in turbulence from Goth invasions. He had three sisters who were nuns, and after the death of his parents converted the house into a monastery. He was ordained deacon, and later served as Papal delegate to Constantinople. He was elected Pope in 590, and immediately set down that he was not claiming St. Peter’s throne, and praised the life of the monks (he was the first Monastic bishop of Rome).

Gregory is most well known for sending missionaries to northern Europe in a time in which the Pope had little authority over Italy, Britain or Spain. Most famous of his missions was sending Augustine to England to proclaim the Gospel to the Anglo Saxon peoples, leading to some conflict with the Celtic church, but eventually leading to a missionary movement spreading form England to the north of Europe and extending as far east as Kiev.

Liturgically, plain song chant, or Gregorian chant is often attributed to him, and more factually the liturgy of the pre-sanctified which is used by the Eastern Orthodox Church until this day for Lent and Holy Week. Private penance is also attributed to him.

Alms were important to him, but most of the money received by the church went immediately to the service of the poor.

Collect: Lord, you raised up Gregory of Rome to be a servant to the servants of God, and inspired him to send missionaries to England. Raise up in this and every generation Bishops who will truly serve their people in imitation of Messiah, and who are willing to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth. This we ask through Yeshuah haMoshiach, who lives and reigns with you and Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ash Wednesday: 9 March 2011

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent in the Western tradition. Whereas Shrove Tuesday marks a day of individuals repenting of their sins, Ash Wednesday marks the corporate community confessing its corporate sins. Being marked with the sign of the cross in ashes reminds of Adam who was made from Adamah (dust), and that we are all made from the earth. The sign of the cross is also a sign that we stand together in repentance both for our individual and corporate sins, and is a sign that we are fasting together. Aside from reminding us of our beginnings, ashes are a sign of repentance in both the old and new testaments. Those of you visiting our church during Lent will not that our altar and my vestments are burlap (sackcloth) which is another sign of repentance. (The vestments are trimmed with purple, which stands for penitence, prayer and preparation.)

Old Testament: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
Psalm: 103:8 14
Epistle: 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
Gospel: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing that you have made, and you forgive the sins of all those who are penitent. Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may receive from you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness of our sins. We make our prayer through Yeshuah haMoshiach, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Please feel free to join us at 6:00 A.M. for Ash Wednesday services.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Thomas Aquinas & Shrove Tuesday: 8 March 2011

Thomas was born in about 1225 in the Kingdom of Sicily. AS a younger son, his parents placed him in religious life, assuming because of family connections, that he would be abbot some day. He was placed in Monte Casino Monastery at the age of five, and later studied at the University of Naples after war caused problems for Monte Casino. After having spent all this time in a Benedictine house, Thomas resolved to become a Dominican. His parents were very much against this, and the Dominicans attempted to spirit him away to Paris, but he was kidnapped by his brothers, and held as a prisoner by his mother for two years. They even sent a prostitute to him to break his resolve, but he kept his resolve and his celibacy, being strengthened by God to resist. His mother, giving up, arranged to leave a window open so he could “escape” and she could save face.

He travelled to Naples, then to Rome to meet the head of the Order, and was sent to Paris to study. He followed his master, Albertus Magnus to Cologne (declining the abbacy of Monte Casino) where he continued his studies. Because of his quietness and size he was given the name of dumb ox. In 1525 he returned to Paris to finish his studies and began his writing. IN 1261 he was back in Naples to tutor those unable to attend the University, and was assigned to Rome in a teaching position. He continued his writing and wrote a new Liturgy for the new feast of Corpus Christi.

One thousand two hundred and sixty-eight found him once again as regent at the University of Paris, where he had a tumultuous time due to the rising of Averroism. In 1272 he left Rome and was given permission to found a new school where ever he pleased, which was Naples. During this time he worked on the third part of Summa Theologica. During Eucharist at the feast of St. Nicholas, he stopped everything, telling his companions that everything he had done was as straw.

He did recover somewhat and was called to the second council of Lyon in 1274. On the way he was injured and fell ill. He died on 7 March 1274 while giving commentary on the Song of Songs.His writings have continued to affect the church and guide her in the ensuing centuries. Thomas was also known for his hymns, “O Saving Victim” and “Now my tongue the Mystery Telling.” St. Thomas Aquinas was the greatest theologian of the High Middle ages, and is counted by some as the second greatest theologian in Western Christianity.

Because of the rediscovery of Aristotle’s works, Thomas asserted that reason and faith are in basic harmony. “Grace is not the denial of nature, but the perfection of it.” Thomas accomplished this synthesis in his greatest workd, Summa Theologia and Summa Contra Gentiles which continue to influence Christian thought and philosophy today. He was considered a radical in his time, and some of his thoughts were regarded as heretical by his contemporaries.

Thomas understood that when God revealed his name to Moshe, “I am who I am” to mean that God is being, the ultimate reality form which everything else derives its being. The difference between God and the universe, is that God’s essence is to exist, wherefore everything else derives its being from God. God is reflected in his creation, and therefore can be partially understood through the creation. Therefore human reason can demonstrate the existence of God. Distinctive truths about God, though must come through revelation. It is important to note that much of western philosophy today is based on reflection of his thought.

Collect: Lord, as you raised Thomas Aquinus as a theologian in your church, grant wisdom as grace that your church may always have teachers to expound the truth and guide us in faith and knowledge of you, that our faith would not be blind, but based on understanding. This we ask through our great teacher Yeshuah, who lives and reins with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)

Psalm 119:97-104
Wisdom 7:7-14
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Matthew 13:47-52

Shrove Tuesday was the traditional day to confess before the priest and receive one's penance for Lent. The word shrive indicates the process of confessing and receiving absolution. Traditionally fried foods are eaten today as the lard was the last of the meat left in the house.

Collect: Lord, grant that we should make such a true confession, that we would truly walk in love and peace with one another that the light of Yeshua would truly shine through us. This we ask through Yeshua haMoshiach who lives and reins with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. (purple before sunset, Lenten array after sunset)

Please join us for the Great Forgiveness Service at: 9:00 PM Tuesday night.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

St. Perpetua and Companions: Martyrs

Perpetua and her companions were martyrs in the third century. The group consisted of Perpetua, a noble woman, Felicitas a slave, Revocatus, another slave, and two freemen, Saturninus and Secundulas. They were catechumens and were later joined by their catechist, Saturis.

Though implored to abandon the faith, the small group was baptized before being imprisoned. Encouraged by dreams and visions the group was offered up to wild animals to be tortured by a boar, a bear and a leopard for the men, and a wild cow for the women. They were severely wounded by the animals, and gave each other the kiss of peace before being killed by the sword. The swordsman assigned to Perpetua was inept and at first only caused her pain. She had to guide the sword to the proper place, and it is said in the Martyrlogy regarding her, that “perchance so great a woman could not else have been slain had she not herself willed it.

Collect: Dear Lord, you gave Perpetua and her companions boldness to confess your name before the rulers of this world, and courage to encourage one another. Grant us boldness to proclaim your name, and help us to always build up one another in the true faith and perseverance in that faith. This we ask through the author of our faith, Yeshuah haMoshiach who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

John & Charles Wesley, Presbyters

John and Charles Wesley are counted to be founders of the Methodist church. Their father was a presbyter in the Church of England and they grew up with a Christian education. In October of 1735 they travelled to Georgia, and came into contact with the Moravians, and were inspired by the Moravian’s faith in God during a storm. Upon arriving in Georgia, the brother had hoped to be witnessing to the Amerindians, but were foiled in their attempts. In 1838, John had a conversion experience at a Moravian Church in Aldersgate, and went to study at Herrenhut, the center of the Moravian movement. John Wesley under George Whitfields’s influence began his open air preaching in 1739. He was unhappy about this as he wished no break with the Church of England, but the poor were not being reached and not going to church, and many of the clergy of the church of England closed their doors to him. As sinner were being saved, John began appointing lay preachers and began setting up rules for chapels and itinerant circuit preachers. Up until 1746, he would not baptize nor serve Holy Communion without approval of the Bishop. In 1748 his ideas on the Episcopate started changing, an by 1784 was ordaining presbyters and overseers for the church in the US, Scotland and England, though opposed by his brother Charles in this. After many years of preaching, he died March 2, 1791.

It was Charles that originally founded the Oxford Methodist group at Oxford, where his brother became leader. We note in passing, that part of the Method of the group was receiving the Holy Communion weekly and studying the Bible. Charles, while know mostly for his hymns (he wrote more than six thousand, was also a powerful preacher, and refused to break with the church of England.

The influence of John and Charles is tremendous. We still have many of Charles’s hymns and John’s sermons. Many believe that the Methodist revival helped change English society and helped prevent revolution. It is certain that their message not only transformed the lives of the poor, who were often forgotten by the Church of England, but also the rich, and led in various movements in which the rich began lending aid to the poor, including the construction of schools and orphanages.

The Methodist, Wesleyan, and many Pentecostal and Holiness churches trace their spiritual roots to Johns and Charles Wesley and the teaching of sanctification, somewhat similar to the Orthodox idea of theosis.


Psalm 103:1-4,13-18
Isaiah 49:5-6
Romans 12:11-17
Luke 9:2-6

Collect: Dear Lord, you gave John and Charles Wesley zeal and gifts of preaching and songwriting. Raise up today preachers who truly are worried for the lost, the poor and the helpless, that we once again would be a community of true faithful proclaiming your word to those whom the world despises. This we ask through Yeshuah haMoshiach, who livers and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

St. Chad: 2 March 2011 (Also Texas Independence Day)

Chad and his brother Cedd were students of St. Aiden at Lindisfarne, where he became acquainted with Celtic Spirituality. Two other brothers were also active in the Anglo-Saxon church. Before being ordained as a priest, he traveled to Ireland with St. Egbert to study there. Apparently the custom was not to ordain to the priesthood until about thirty years old, being the age at which Christ began his ministry.

Chad and his brothers were very influenced by Celtic Spirituality which emphasized austerity, Biblical exegesis, and led to a consciousness and focus on the end times.

We find Chad taking his brother Cedd’s place as abbot at Lastingham after Cedd died in the plague, in 663.

Whenever a gale would spring up, Chad would call on God to have pity on humanity. If it intensified he would prostrate himself in prayer, and if it grew worse go to the chapel and sing psalms till the storm abated. When asked by his companions, he explained that storms were sent by God to remind humans of the day of judgment and to humble their pride.

Chad was selected Bishop of York (and Northumbria) by king Oswiu. He had to travel to Wessex where he was ordained by the Bishop of Wessex and two Welsh bishops (as the plague had decimated the number of Bishops, and three Bishops were required for ordination.

Chad was faithful in his call traveling to all the towns and villages, baptizing and confirming, following the Celtic role of Bishop as prophet and missionary. As the king had appointed two bishops for York, and the first one had finally returned, Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury asked Chad to step down, which he did. Surprised by Chad’s humility, Archbishop Theodore had Chad consecrated as Bishop of the Mercia. Land was donated for the monastery of Lichtfield, and Chad took up residence, and began his work as Bishop in similar vein to before, confirming baptizing, and guiding the people. Chad refused to ride horseback, as Jesus had not done so. He has a dispute with Archbishop Theodore over this who manually lifted him into the saddle. Chad died March 2, 672 after encouraging his monks to persevere.

For more information:
Psalm 95:1-7
Proverbs 16:1-3
Philippians 4:10-13
Luke 14:1,7-14

Collect: Dear Lord who raised up Chad to be Bishop of Lichtfield, and gave him humility to cheerfully to relinquish his honours. Grant in this and every generation that we would seek only your honour and glory. This we ask through Yeshuah haMoshiach, who livers and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen.