Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yom Kippur: 26 September 2012

Today is Yom Kippur, one of the Holiest of the High Holy Days of the Jews which we remember.  Our Lesson from Leviticus explains the preparations which the high priest had to make in order to offer the offering for the sins of the people.  First he had to wash, a symbol of purity. Then he had to put on the special clothes reserved to the high priest (clothing indicates our deeds).  Afterwards, he had to have a sacrifice to pay for his own sins.  Then and only then could he enter into the Holy of Holies and sacrifice for the sins of the peoples, which he did by sprinkling blood on the cover of the ark of the covenant.  Note even then, he had a rope tied to his foot just in case.  The hem of his robe had bells.  If the bells stopped ringing, they knew the High Priest had been struck dead for his sins and was pulled out. 

Jesus, by his death on the cross finished this sacrifice for ever.  Jesus was without sin, so no need to wash, or even sacrifice.  He was perfect man, without sin, so he needed no magnificent clothing to symbolize his good deeds, all his deeds were good.   Through his goodness and perfection, he was able to enter into that Holy Place, of which the Holy of Holies was only the palest of shadows.  Instead of offering the blood of a lamb, he offered his own blood to cover the mercy seat, once and for all, to cover our sins for ever.  When Jesus died on the cross, we are told that the curtain in front of the Holy of Holies ripped in two.  This symbolizes that we all have access to the throne of grace through the blood of Jesus.   

The Jews wore white on this day, to symbolize they were clean of sin.  The same in days gone past, Christians would don a white garment after their baptism, and wear it for fifty days to remind them that Jesus had paid for their sins and they were cleansed indeed.

Today, and every Friday is good to remember that Jesus, through his life and his death on the cross, provided for us a way to enter into God’s presence.   Join with me fasting on this day, so that we may join Jesus in his sufferings so as to remember the wonders he did for us. 

Lessons:  Leviticus 16:1-34, Jonah 1:1-4:11, Hebrews 9:23-28,  Mathew 27:45-51

Collect:  Heavenly Father, as we remember the day of atonement which prefigured Messiah’s death on the cross.  Separate our sins as far from us as the east is from the west, and grant that we may enter into the holy place where you now rein, one God, in glory everlasting.  (Lenten array or violet)

St. Sergius: 25 Septermber 2012

St. Sergius

St. Sergius is one of the three prominent saints of Russia.  He was born early in the 14th century, the child of boyars who became impoverished.  He was one of three sons.  His brother, Stefan was a monk, and upon their parents death, Sergius (Bartholomew) joined him, but persuaded him to move to a more isolated area.  Deep in the Forest at Makovets hill, they built a small cell and a wooden church.

His brother left for Moscow, but Sergius remained and took vows as a monk.  Others were attracted to him and his way of life, and other cells began to be built around him.  They eventually persuaded him to become their father superior and he was ordained to the presbyterate.  All the monks, including Sergius lived by their own labour.  Eventually they founded a guest house, and eventually a town and villages grew up around Holy Trinity Monastery.  The Patriarch of Constantinople granted him a monastic charter.  Sergius’s followers founded some 400 monasteries across central and northern Russia.  IN imitation of Sergius (and indeed like the Benedictines) they chose the most isolated places to live in to preserve their solitude, but also helped to build communities through their hard work. Sergius not only contributed to the building up of Christianity through Russia, but helped develop towns and civilasion as well.

He did bless Dmitri Donskoy before his battle with the Tartars, but not until being certain that all peaceful alternatives had been tried. When the Metropolitan of Russia, Alexius asked him to take his place, he declined, saying he had never worn gold in his life, so how could he do it, now that he was old.  It is also said that like St. Frances and several other saints, that he had a special relationship with animals. 

Sergius was truly a holy man of God, who led by example.  May God grant our church leaders who would do likewise. 

Collect:  Father, as you raised up Sergius to inspire the Russian people in their faith, grant that we like his monks would seek to serve our neighbours that they too would come to know you as Lord and Saviour, who lives and reigns with Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (white)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

St. Matthew: 21 September

St. Mathew the Evangelist

Mathew the Evangelist, also known as Levi.  He began as a tax collector and Jesus called him to repentance, and to follow him.  Shortly after this, Jesus went to a supper at Mathew’s home where he was rebuked by the Pharisees for eating in the house of the sinner.  One hope that Jesus’s reply of being sent to those who need healing may have brought some Pharisees to repentance, but on said subject the Bible is silent.  Legends tell us that Mathew worked among the Hebrews for some 15 years before departing for other climes.  Legends also claim that he evangelized (and died) just south of the Caspian Sea, as well as visiting Persia, Parthia, Macedonia and Syria. 

It is stated that he left a copy of the Gospel to the Hebrews (and this may be the same one that was taken to India by St. Thomas.  We believe that that first Gospel was written in Aramaic, but more than likely, our present Gospel of Mathew is not a direct translation, but a translation with some additional materials.  The Gospel of Mathew has a clear emphasis on showing that Jesus completed the Law and the Prophets and that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah and Saviour of the world.

Eucharist:                       Daily Office AM:                 Dailey Office PM
Psalm 119:33-40;           Psalm 119:  41-64            Psalms 19,112            
Proverbs 3:1-6;              Isaiah 8: 11-20                    Job 28: 12-28
2 Timothy 3:14-17
;         Romans 10:1-15                  Matthew 13: 44-52
Matthew 9:9-13

Collect:  Dear Father, as you raised Mathew from being a tax collector to an ambassador for your kingdom, and caused him to write his Gospel for the Messianic Jews of his time; so transform us that our lives would lead to the conversion of many and help us to remember that our lives may be the only Bible unbelievers will read.  This we ask through Yeshuah, who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (red)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury: 19 September 2012

Theodore of Tarsus (602-19 September 690)

St. Theodore of Tarsus was sent by Pope Vitalian of Rome to take the place of the Anglo Saxon candidate for Bishop, Wighard who had died in Rome.  Theodore, already 65, a monk, but not yet presbyter turned out to be an excellent man for the job.  He worked out differences between Roman and Celtic traditions, filled vacant Bishoprics and organized the very first council of the Church of England.  He was, according to Bede the first Archbishop whom all the English obeyed.  He organized dioceses, set boundaries and basically organized the English church.  One of his organizational details is still used by our church.  Twenty five percent of the offering to the poor, twenty five percent to maintaining the church, twenty five per cent to the clergy for maintenance of the altar and clergy and twenty five per cent to the bishop for his expenses and misson.

He also founded a school which was attended by Celts and English, helping to unify the traditions, and which taught Greek, Latin, poetry, astronomy and calendar calculation.

When Theodore arrived, things were a mess.  When he died  twenty three years later at the age of 88 on 19 September, 690, the church was organized and ready for mission.


Collect:  Heavenly Father, you sent Theodore to organize and put right the church of England and to reconcile the church of the English with the Church of the Celts.  Raise up among us, clergy and laity, who will help organise the church today so that it would be an effective means of evangelising the world in which we live.  This we ask in the name of Yeshua, who lives and reigns with you and Ruach ha Kodesh, one God in Glory everlasting.  Amen.  (white)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rosh Hashana & St. Ninian: 17 September 2012

St. Ninian and Rosh Hashana
Following the Jewish Calendar, today is Rosh Hoshana, the Jewish New Year. Last night we had a festive meal, and dipped our bread and apples in honey signifying that we would like God to give us a sweet year. The shofar will be blown today. The shofar is a ram's horn trumpet with a distinctive sound. Trumpets were used to announce the coming of the king. Our King of course is Yahweh Shabbaoth, the Lord the Lord of Hosts.

Following the lessons and collect is a short poem on my reflections celebrating Rosh Hoshanah in a Messianic Synagogue some years back.

Numbers 29:1-6
Jer. 31:1-19
Genesis 1:1-31

Father as on this day we commemorate the creation of human kind, help us to repent in truth from our many sins, and to learn to truly walk and talk with you as did Adam and Hava. Let the shofar truly call us to be with you, and may you grant us a sweet year to come. This we ask through Yeshua haMoshiach who lives and reins with you and Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. (white)
Today is also the day of St. Ninians (transferred from Sunday)

Ninian was a Celt, born about 360.  It is said that he studied in Rome and was a friend and imitator of St. Martin of Tours, his good friend with whom he spent much time.  Ninian was the first known preacher who reached out north of Hadrian’s wall, and preached as far South as the English Lake District and as far north as the Firth of Moray.  He was important as were Patrick and Columba in preserving the Roman-British Church and definitely had effect on Celtic Christianity.  He preached principally to the Picts, and principally in Southern Scotland many churches are dedicated to him and said to have been founded by him.  He named his base at Galloway Candida Casa (White House or Whitethorn) which name is believed to have been used by St. Martin of Tours for his monastic settlement. 

What Does the Shofar Say

Listen to the sound of the Shofar, this Rosh Hashanah day,
What is it, what does the Shofar say?
Awake, sleepers arise!
Don’t be like sheep, so sound asleep,
Letting the wolf in the door, to destroy, corrupt and more.
He’s in the music, promoting drugs,
He’s on TV promoting sex and rebellion,
He’s in the school teaching one to be a hellion.
Parents, do you love your children,
Then teach them, teach them.
At their rising, at their sitting,
Going out, coming in, at their eating,
Jesus Christ is Lord, He died for you, and many more,
And expects to be your Lord.

Listen to the sound of the Shofar, this Rosh Hashanah day,
What is it, what does the Shofar say?
Awake, sleepers arise!
Don’t be like sheep, so sound asleep,
False shepherds abound misleading the sheep,
Saying science, psychology is King.
If it feels good do it, if it hurts no-one, ‘tis not a sin, or so they sing.
Jesus is not Lord, he’s just one way, of which there are many more.
Stand up O sheep, flee from such shepherds, For at that last day, they shall flee, or
Be astounded, upon finding resurrection is true,
But alas they are blue,
For never having known Jesus, they have condemned themselves,
And those who followed them to a future so bleak,
That to think upon makes me weak

Listen to the sound of the Shofar, this Rosh Hashanah day,
What is it, what does the Shofar say?
Ti ra! Ti ra! Arise, charge, ‘tis time to fight the good fight,
‘tis time to show the adversary our might.
Put on the Gospel Armour, refrain from retreating,
It is time to gain souls, it is time to gain kings,
It is time to show the world our Lord and King.
We have been asleep, allowing Satan his will
And we have had to pay the bill.
The time is over, Satin take cover,
For the church is called to be on the move.
Blow the shofar, blow the trumpet, Good Christians, ATTACK!
You are the mighty hosts of the Lord, armed with his Spirit and Word,
The battle is yours, the war is the Lord’s.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

St. John Chrysotom, Archbishop: 14 September 2012

St. John Chrysostom (349-14 September 407) was born in Antioch to pagan parents.  His father, a soldier died while John was of an early age, and John was raised by his mother.  He became a Christian, was baptised and became a reader in the church.  At first due to his mother’s influence he studied under pagans and developed a gift for rhetoric.  As he grew older he studied under Christians and later became a hermit, during which time he spend memorising the Bible.  Too much fasting permanently damaged his kidneys and he had to return to Constantinople.  Ordained a deacon in 381 and a presbyter in 386 he became well known because of his preaching.  In preaching and writing he emphasised the spiritual and physical needs of the poor.  His talks were very practical, leading people to a straightforward understanding of the Bible and of Christian duty in everyday life.  While in Antioch, he preached 21 sermons leading to whole sale conversion to Christianity by pagans. 

In 398 he became Archbishop of Constantinople. It is said that his sermons were so powerful, that people were so enthralled by them that pickpockets had easy targets, and it was suggested that people leave their purses at home. He was regarded as one of the greatest preachers of the ancient and eastern church.  His sermons were eminently practical.  He would tell people that before taking communion, they should consider the needs of the people around therm.    Refusing to have banquets for the rich he made himself unpopular with the upper classes.  He also forced priests to go back to where they were supposed to be.  Either through fearlessness, or fault of tact, John found himself with enemies in high places, or the Empress Eudoxia became his enemy and organised a conspiracy against him.  A synod was held against him in 403 and he was deposed and to be banished.  At his arrest there was an earthquake and the people were rioting so the emperor called him back to his post   He was banished once again to Armenia  for criticising  the   empress.  During this time he wrote several letters of great influence in Constantinople and was exiled to Georgia.  He never made it to his final destination, and was buried in Georgia, where his tomb became a site of pilgrimage.  

Considered to be the greatest preacher of the early church (Chrysostom means golden mouthed) he preached extensively from the whole Bible, and many of the congregants copied his sermons and passed them around.  He criticised his audience for being too worldly, especially in pagan entertainments, but at the same time formed his sermons so they would be clear to all, especially emphasising care of the needy.  He also revised the liturgy and has some connection with the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. 

John describes the liturgy as a glorious experience in which all heaven and earth participate.  His sermons emphasise  the importance of lay participation in the Eucharist.  He asked, “Why do you marvel, that eh people anywhere utter anything with the priest at the altar, when in fact they join with the Cherubim themselves, and the heavenly powers in offering up sacred hymns.  The main liturgy used by the Eastern Orthodox Church today is known as the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom for his influence on it.

His treatise, Six Books on the Priesthood, is an excellent manual on the demands of the presbyteral office and its demands.  Most of his sermons are still extant as they were copied down as he was preaching.  We learn from John, that preaching is important, and that Christianity, is not something for Sunday, but something we should live out everyday, and not to worry about the authorities. 

Heavenly Father, as you raised John Chrysostom to preach the Gospel and suffer for the faith.  Grant that all preachers would have the eloquence to proclaim your word so as to build us up in faith and knowledge and love of you.  Through the Messiah we pray, Amen.  (red)

Jeremaih 42:1-6
Psalm 49:1-8
I Corinthians 12:31-13:7
Luke 21:12-15

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Martyrs of Memphis: 10 September 2012 (transferred from Sunday)


Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Martyrs of New Guinea: 3 September 2012 (Tranferred from Sunday)

The Martyrs of New Guinea:

New Guinea is a very difficult place for missionary work.  Rough terrain, few roads, over 500 languages, cannibalism and other factors made it a tough place to work.  Christian missionaries first appeared in this area in the 1860s.  They suffered many privations in their work.

When war broke out, it became oblivious that Europeans would be in danger.  The Anglican Bishop, Bishop strong wrote to his missionaries,

"We must endeavour to carry on our work. God expects this of us. The church at home, which sent us out, will surely expect it of us. The universal church expects it of us. The people whom we serve expect it of us. We could never hold up our faces again if, for our own safety, we all forsook Him and fled, when the shadows of the Passion began to gather around Him in His spiritual and mystical body, the Church in Papua." 

The eight “official” martyrs of New Guinea were 8 Anglican clergy and laymen who were murdered by the Japanese as examples on the 2nd of September 1942.  They had the opportunity to flea, but stayed in order to continue serving the people of Papua New Guinea.  Lucian Tapiedi  was killed with an axe.  The rest were beheaded by the Japanese.  During the course of the war, another 333 persons of various Christian denominations died for the faith and to help the Papua New Guineans.  

The Anglican Church and other denominations are thriving today in Papua New Guinea.

Collect:  Dear Lord, as the faith in Papua New Guinea was watered by the blood of martyrs willing to give up all for you, help us to also be always ready to make that final sacrifice for you, this we ask in the name of him who died for us.  Amen.  (red)