Friday, March 23, 2012

Gregory the Illuminator: Apostle to the Armenians: 23 March 2011

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 raised 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)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Thomas Cranmer: 21 March 2012

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 English, 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, Christian Church, Synod of St. Timothy). 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, you 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)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

St. Cuthbert,, Bishop, 20 March 2012
Cuthbert (c. 634 – 20 March 687)

Cuthbert was probably from Dunbar at the mouth of the Firth of Forth in what today would be Scotland, but in Northumbria when he was born. As a youth he was a shepherd, but having had a vision of a soul borne to heaven by angels on the night of St. Aiden’s death, he resolved to be a monk and joined the monastery of Melrose in Northumbria. He became a soldier for a short period (he was a cousin of the king of Northumbria) before returning to Melrose. He became famous for his piety, diligence and obedience and as a consequence was assigned to the new monastery at Ripon. He returned to Melrose, and became prior. During this time he was faithful in visiting the people, serving their spiritual need, going on missionary trips, and performing miracles.

After the Synod of Whitby, he adopted the Roman ways and was asked to introduce them to Lindisfarne, which he did. He continued his missionary journeys from Berwick to Galloway, leading many to Christ, and diligently working with the poor. In 676, he moved into a cave on one of the Farne islands. In 684 he was elected Bishop of Lindisfarne. Reluctantly he went to be consecrated by Archbishop Theodore of York in 685, and was bishop for two years before his death in 687.

Psalm 104: 32-35
Isaiah 55:6-12
Romans 12:6-13
John 10:25b-30

Collect: Father, you called Cuthbert from being a shepherd of sheep to being a shepherd of persons. Grant that as we was willing to spread the Gospel in remote and dangerous places, that we too may be willing to proclaim the Gospel in areas of which we might fear and to people of whom we may be afraid. This we ask through Yeshuah haMoshiach, who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)

Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Joseph, 19 March 2012

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)