Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Reformation Day: 31 October 2012

Reformation Day

October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the castle church door of Wittenberg.  This was a common way of making announcements at the time, and since November 1st is All Saints day, a day of special observance, crowds were guaranteed to see the announcements.  

At the heart of the 95 theses was a custom of the day, selling indulgences in order to raise money for the church.  The general idea was that one could buy more rapid exit from purgatory for one’s self or a relative.  In the famous words of  Johann Tetzel, “Sobald der Gülden im Becken klingt, im huy die Seel im Himmel springt,“  (as soon as the guilder in the box clings, hurriedly the soul into heaven springs.“)

The Pope was rebuilding St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, and needed money to work on it.  He sent Tetzel and others to raise money through the sale of indulgences. Martin Luther found this reprehensible, and nailed his objections to the church door.  (The 95 Theses can be found at:

Several points made by Luther:

If the pope had this power than he should let all people out of purgatory.

Money spent on charity would do us more good than money spent on indulgences.

Repentance is necessary.

The Pope had enough money to repair St. Peter’s, and should have used his own money.

Martin Luther’s theses were extremely important to the church and to Europe and eventually the world.  They lead to challenging the Roman Catholic Church in other areas (such as holding church services in languages which the people understood, the marriage of clergy and many other factors.  Most of the Protestant Churches we have today are a direct or indirect result of this challenge to the Roman Catholic Church.  The Roman Catholic Church indeed reformed itself to some extent, to win back people lost to protestant churches.  Europe itself, became divided between the Protestant North (Great Britain, Scandinavia, Prussia, Holland, Latvia and Estonia), and the Catholic South.  Among the Protestants was a great desire to know God’s word in one’s one language and to apply it to one’s life.  Europe was transformed, not only religiously by the reformation, but economically as well.  Religious wars changed the face of Europe, and indeed had a great affect on those who wrote the constitution of the USA.  George Washington feared sectarian wars, and for this reason the USA did not recognise any one form of Christianity. 

Tonight is also Halloween, from All Hallows Even, meaning the evening before the feast of All Hallows (i.e. All Saints Day).  This feast was originally held in May but was moved.  There is some confusion as to just where the traditions regarding Halloween come from, but modern scholarship seems to indicate that on this night, poor children and adults would go door to door asking for soul cakes, for which in turn they would pray to the dead.  Modern scholarship seems to indicate that there never was a relationship between All Hallows Eve, Celtic Festivals and Witchcraft.  When studying such things, if one is careful, they are liable to find out that most things having to do with "Celtic," whether Pagan or Christian, have very little to do with reality, and more to do with romantics, or people who would discredit Christianity.

Jeremiah 31:31-34                                                                                                                                      Psalm 46                                                                                                                                                  Romans 3:19-28                                                                                                                                         John 8:31-36

Collect:  Heavenly Father, on this day Martin Luther nailed his theses to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral, not to challenge the church, but to transform it into a true body for mission.  Grant us zeal in reforming the church and translating scripture and liturgy so all may understand your word, and be enabled for mission to the entire world.  This we ask in the name of our Lord Yeshuah.  Amen.  (white)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sts. Simon and Jude: 29 October 2011                                                   

Sts. Simon and Jude, Apostles

Very little is known of St. Simon, aside from his nickname the zealot.  Traditions say that he went from Jerusalem, to North Africa and Carthage.  From there he went to Spain, and then Britain.  It is said he was crucified on May 10th, in Lincolnshire, Britain.

 Another legend says he traveled with St. Jude to Syria, Mesopotamia, and on to Persia, where Simon was sawn in two and Jude martyred with a halberd. 

Of Jude we know little as well.  He allegedly preached the Gospel in Judaea, Samaria, Idumea, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Libya.  It is also said he visited Beirut.  He, together with Jude are believed to have preached the gospel in Armenia as well.  According to the Armenians, Jude died in the year 65 AD in Beirut.  The Epistle of Jude is attributed to him. 


Daily Office:

Collect:  Heavenly Father, we thank you for the example of Simon and Jude who were zealots for the faith, and who gave their lives for you.  Grant us strength and courage to live and die for you as well.  This we ask through our Lord and Saviour Yeshua haMoshiach, who lives and reins with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (red)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Alfred the Great< King of the West Saxons: 26 October 2012

            Born in 849 at Berkshire, Alfred wished to become a monk.  Instead he became king at the death of his father and four older brothers in 871. At this time the Danes controlled the northeast coast of what we call England today, which was called the Danelaw.  Alfred was able to defeat the Danes, and as part of the terms of that defeat, the Danish King, Guthrum became a vassal to Jesus Christ, and therefore so did his nobles.  Obviously the baptisms that resulted from this conversion may not have been heartfelt, but, because of this conversion, priests and missionaries were allowed in the Danelaw and in Denmark (which at this time included a portion of Sweden), which in time resulted in legitimate heartfelt conversions. 
            After defeating Guthrum,  Alfred devoted his time to rebuilding the kingdom of Wessex, fortifying it against attack, building schools (including Oxford) and libraries.  Enamoured of the Torah’s treatment of the poor, Alfred sought to put such protections in his laws as well.  He also translated books and fifty of the Psalms into Anglo Saxon. 
            The laws which Alfred promulgated are based very much on the Old Testament.  In addition to his other talents, Alfred also designed the ships used to defeat King Guthrum.
            There are many reason for calling Alfred the Great.  Among those not listed above was the protection of England from the Vikings and restoring the peace, allowing British and English Christianity to carry on unmolested.  Once King Guthrum had converted he received respect from his Christian subjects in the Danelaw, leading to peace there as well.  King Alfred was a man who knew the Bible well, and sought to use it in his life, in the laws and in all he did.  Would that our politicians would do likewise.

Collect:  Heavenly Father, as Alfred rebuilt England and restored the church, he also witnessed to his enemy Guthrum and persuaded him to receive Messiah.  Grant that we too, would pray and witness to all the world, whether they be our friends or our enemies.  This we ask through Yeshuah who lives and reins with you and Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (white)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

St. James the Just, 23 October 2012

James the Just (?-62 A.D.), also knows as James the brother of Yeshua is reckoned as being the first Bishop of Jerusalem.  There are many questions about exactly who he was.  Depending on theology or churchmanship, some reckon him to be the son of Miriam (Yeshua’s mother), others think him to have been a son by previous marriage to Yosef, while others think he was a cousin to Yeshua (at issue here is the perpetual virginity of Miriam*).  Whichever he was, he apparently did not recognise Yeshua as Messiah, until after Yeshua’s resurrection, as St. Paul tells us that Yeshua appeared to James, the brother of the Lord.   Interestingly enough, the ancient Greek texts call him Iάκωβος ο Αδελφόθεος, which literally means, James, the brother of God, which would seem to indicate that he actually was Yeshua’s brother.  

James is important to us chiefly through his writings.  We find his writing and thoughts in the 15th chapter of the book of Acts: 

Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day."  In other words, the ruling found here and elsewhere in acts frees gentiles from following the Jewish dietary (except for blood and strangled animals) and ceremonial laws, but binds Christians to the Jewish laws of morality, especially sexual morality.

James also gives us the Epistle of James, giving us instruction in prayer and in healing.  James 3:16, “Faith without works is absolutely dead,” which added balance to what St. Paul stated about faith and works.  (To put it plainly, we have salvation by what Yeshua did for us on the cross.  All we have to do is accept that.  But once we have done so, our life should be rich in works that demonstrate that we are God’s children.).

Historically, James is believed also to be the author of the precursor of the rite of St. James used by the Eastern Orthodox church on certain feast days (and used by our church most Sundays.)  Also with James begins a long line of Jerusalem bishops who were physically related to Yeshua, all through Miryam, the mother of Yeshua.  The last of these was Judas, who died in the year 135 A.D. After 135, all Bishops of Jerusalem were Greek.  

James was asked to preach to the people of Jerusalem, but when he began proclaiming Yeshua, was hurled to the ground and beaten to death with a fuller’s club.  Some hesitated because they heard him praying for them.  According to Josephus, many of the residents of Jerusalem considered this to be a political assassination.  

Psalm 1
Acts 15:12-22a
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Matthew 13:54-58
Preface of All Saints
Daily Office:
AM: Psalm 119:145-168
Jeremiah 11:18-23
Matthew 10:16-22
PM: Psalm 122, 125
Isaiah 65:17-25
Hebrews 12:12-24
Collect:  Oh Lord, as James the Just, brother of Yeshuah worked for reconciliation through prayer and preaching, grant that we too may fervently pray for the kingdom.  This we ask through Yeshuah, who lives and reins with you and Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen. (red)

*The perpetual virginity of Miriam did not become church doctrine until the 4th century, lending some doubt to the doctrine.  We note that as well in the 4th century the development of the idea that celibate Christians were considered better Christians than non-celibate, and we wonder  if the whole case of Miriam’s perpetual virginity rests on these 4th century ideas, when monks and nuns were becoming the super-Christians of the church. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ignatius of Antioch: 17 October 2012

            Ignatius is one of the Apostolic fathers (early leaders in the church who knew the apostles).  He is said to have been one of the children that Jesus blessed.  He was born around the year 35 and died between 98 and 117.  He is counted to be the third Bishop of Antioch (after St. Peter and St. Evodius who died in the year 67.  It is said that he knew St. Peter and may have known St. John the Apostle, and it is said that St. Peter appointed him to the see of Antioch.  Ignatius is most known to us for the letters he wrote on the way to Rome, where he was martyred by being partially consumed by lions.  His remains are in Rome to this day, buried under St. Peter’s Basilica.
            Ignatius wrote six letters to churches and one to a bishop.  His letters emphasise loyalty to one Bishop per city, who is aided by his presbyters and deacons, the earliest letter to emphasise this.  He called the Eucharist the medicine of immortality and looked forward to his martyrdom to be with Jesus face to face.  St. Ignatius also is the first to emphasise celebrating the Lord’s day (although Acts 20:7-11 suggests the practice first) saying, “We fashion our lives after the Lord’s day.”
            These letters are very important, because we have very little written information about this time in the churches history, guiding us in how we should imitate the primitive church.

For more see:  (note the first seven are those alleged to be genuine.)

            Collect:  Heavenly Father, as you raised up your servant Ignatius to be Bishop of Antioch and to suffer and die for his faith.  Grant that we may gather more frequently to celebrate the Eucharist, sharing the medicine of immortality, and that we would follow the bishop, as Jesus followed the Father, follow the presbytery as we would follow the apostles, and respect the deacons as we respect God’s law.  This we ask through our Lord and Saviour Yeshua haMoshiach, who lives and reins with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (red)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

St. Francis of Assisi: 4 October 2012

St. Francis of Assisi (1182-4October 1226)

St. Francis was born in Assisi in 1182, the son of a wealthy cloth merchant, who spent much time in France (hence the nickname Francisco).  After sickness and military service he heard Christ tell him to fix his falling down house.  Francis took this literally and sold a bale of silk and used the money to restore the church.  His father was not happy about this and he denounced Francis and disinherited him. Francis gave his father back his purse, and is said to have laid down his clothes to depart naked.  Frances claimed for his bride the Lady Poverty, and begged unused stones and did the work on St. Damien’s himself, doing both the manual labour on the church and to earn food.  He also scrounged food from the garbage.  He stayed with the priest, and took care of the lepers as well, cleaning and washing them, as well as feeding them.

Eventually some other young men took up with him, and the Order of Friars Minor was born.  In 1210 it was made official by the Pope, and Francis was ordained to the diaconate so he could read the Gospels to his Friars.  Francis and his friars not only rebuilt the crumbling church of St. Damien, but renovated the church in a time when clergy were becoming a little too involved with money.  His friars went out, following the Gospel to take nothing with them and to give without charge.  They preached the Gospel, using words when necessary.  Frances probably also set up the first manger scene.  He also went to the Holy Land in 1219 to talk with the Sultan, volunteering to walk through the fire to prove the truth of Christianity.  He did set up an armistice, but sadly the Christian rulers would not agree to it.  There was one good result; the Franciscans were made guardians of the Christian shrines in the Holy Land. 

Sadly, the same thing happened to the Order of Friar’s Minor as happened to the early church.  Many people joined seeing the joy of the Friars, but were not ready to embrace Lady Poverty, not realizing the joy of being unencumbered by possessions..  While the order was small, Francis was able to keep this practice up.  After he retired though, Franciscans began to own houses and other property, and fell quickly from the high ideals of Francis. 

Aside from his joy, Francis was also known for his love of animals, whom he often preached to, and which would obey him.  During a 40 day fast near the end of his life he received the stigmata, for which he gave thanks, now being able to know first hand the sufferings of Christ.  Francis died, October 4, 1226 singing Psalm 141.  Francis is one of the most admired of all saints, but the least imitated.  Francis wrote many songs showing his joy, some of which we have with us today.  A good way to celebrate the day is watching the movie, “Brother Sun, Sister Moon,” about the life of St. Francis.  May we learn to be joyful, needing only the Lord Jesus Christ, and nothing else.

Collect:  Father, your servant Francis gave up the riches of the world to serve you in poverty.  Guide us that we would not only admire Francis, but seek to imitate him as he imitated you.  Make us oh Lord, instruments of your peace and help us to know that it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, in giving that we receive and that in dying we are born to everlasting life, this we ask through our Saviour, Yeshuah haMoshiach who left  his place in heaven to show us the way to you.  (white)

Matthew 10:7-10, Psalm 141

Monday, October 1, 2012

St. Remigius and Sukkoth

Today, we remember St. Remigius, who converted Clovis, King of the Franks, and today is the first day of Tabernacles:

Remigius was born about 438 and made Bishop at the ripe old age of  22.  He served as Bishop of Rheims during the time of the Barbarian invasions and the Arian conflict.  In fact it is indeed possible that Remigius changed the history of Europe as he witnessed to Clovis, King of the Franks, who became Catholic Christian as opposed to becoming Arian as did the Goths and the Vandals.  Clovis was baptised Christmas day 496 with about three thousand of his followers, and as the Franks were to make big changes in Europe.  In fact the Franks prevented the Muslims from taking over France under Charles Martel, and under Charlemagne consolidated power.  The Franks also converted the Visigoths so that the Arians no longer had military hegemony over the area.  I t should also be noted that Clovis’s descendents helped lead to the conversion of some English royal families during the time of the heptarchy. 

I particularly like Remigious’ words to Clovis, “Burn what you worshipped, and worship what you burned.  Once, Clovis was baptised, Remigius was free to proclaim the Gospel to the Franks, which he did, founding  may churches and dioceses.  Remigius, like several other saints was known to have a way with animals, sparrows would eat out of his hands as he ate.  Chiefly though we remember Remigius for his fine work converting Clovis and the Franks. 

Collect:   Heavenly Father, as you empowered your Bishop Remigius, to witness the Gospel of our Lord Yeshuah to Clovis, King of the Franks,  and to convert him and the Frankish nation, empower us to reach out to the leadership of the nations that they may acknowledge you to be the true sovereign of this world, through our Lord Yeshuah haMoshiach, who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (white)

Sukkoth or Tabernacles:

September 30, at Sundown, marks the feast of Sukkoth, or Tabernacles. During this feast the Jewish people build tabernacles or huts, and have all their meals in them and sleep in them as well. Sukkoth was the autumn harvest time and was a type of Jewish thanksgiving. As well, it commemorates the forty years in the desert, and God’s provision. We note in passing, according to Nehemiah, during the forty years in the desert, their clothes did not wear out, in other words, along with manna and water, God provided for all the rest of the people’s needs.

Many Jews today see the Succoth or hut as a sign of God’s protection as well, because God protected the people in the desert as well.

We too, see that Yeshua completes this feast as he does all the others. He provides for us, if we seek the kingdom, and he will protect us. He will not let us be tempted past what we can bear.

As Christians, we too can keep the feast, setting up a tent or dining fly, and having our meals in it. We also set up tents and sleep in them as well, as well as cooking at least lunch and dinner outside. Good time for brisket and smoked turkey as well. We do this in remembrance of the forty years in the desert, and remind ourselves that it took forty years for the children of Israel to become true people of God. Even Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness, and St. Paul spent three years in the wilderness. We might think of it as camping out with God.

During Sukkoth, we remember that becoming a Christian is not an overnight thing, but a process: a process in which for some is quicker, for some is slower, but nevertheless a process in which we learn to apply God’s work to our lives; a process in which we learn to overcome temptation; a process in which we learn to be Yeshua’s hands, and feet and eyes, and mouth; a process in which we learn to trust God; a process in which God builds us into better Christians. As the tent surrounds us, so does God’s provision and protection surround us. We have talked about this process before. The Eastern Orthodox Church refers to it as theosis, that is becoming more God like. As Christ is in God, so we are in Christ. As we become more Christ-like, we become more like the father, for Jesus was his perfect reflection. As Yeshua told Phillip, if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.

It is also a time of thinking. Of the six hundred three thousand plus men to cross the Red Sea and were delivered from slavery in Egypt, only two, Yehoshua (Joshua) and Kalev (Caleb) actually made it to the Promised Land. Yeshua tells us, many are called, but few are chosen. St. Paul tells us to run to win the race, and that the bones of the Israelites littering the ground were given as an example for us to learn. Let us look at this and tremble.

God has called us. Will we follow? Will we trust him to provide for us? Will we speak out for him when it is not popular? Will we call others to follow the Lord Yeshua? The entire Exodus process is something that every Christian must go through, from being baptized to learning in the desert. There will be trials and temptations. God will test and prove us in order to make us strong. After all, God wants people of good character to reside with him forever.

Let us as we celebrate this holiday, analyse where we are in our relationship with Yeshua. Are we crying for meat and melons, or are we advancing for the Kingdom of God? Are we wondering where Moses went, or are we preparing for the battle? Let us pray for all Christians, that they would grow in love, knowledge and obedience to the Lord Yeshua haMoshiach (Jesus the Christ), and let us pray for all Yehudim (Jews) that they would see how Yeshua completes the feast and recognise him as Messiah, and may we trusting in his protection, guidance, power, and providence go to war against Satin and those forces which attempt to enslave us.

Numbers 29:12-16
John 1:1-14

Deuteronomy 8:1-5
John 7:1-9

Deuteronomy 29: 2-6
John 7:10-24

Nehemiah 9:9-15

Deuteronomy 16:13-15
John 7:32-36

Saturday:  John 7:37-39

Sunday: (At Matins if not used in the Eucharist)
Ezekiel 38:18-39:16
I Corinthians 10:1-11

Collect for the day: Heavenly Father, as we remember that you caused the Israelites to dwell in tents, and as their clothes and shoes did not wear out, grant that we may rest assured of your protection and blessings. This we ask in the name of our Lord Yeshua haMoshiach, who lives and reins with you and Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)