Monday, September 30, 2013

St Michael and All Angels: Transferred from 29 September

St. Michael and All Angels

Today we recognise the heavenly hosts.  Our Greek brothers and sisters refer to them as the bodiless powers, recognising that angels are essentially spiritual beings.  Now just, what are angels?  The Greek word, Angel means messenger.  Angels and Archangels basically then are messengers sent by God.  It is reckoned by theologians that only Angels and Archangels have anything to do with men.  The other classes are angels in ascending order are:  Principalities, Powers, Virtues, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim.  It is not clear to us the purposes of these various classes of spiritual beings, but we know that they serve God, and the last two, cherubim and seraphim are reckoned as angels of the presence, that is that they are in the highest heaven with the Lord. 

Biblically, there are several manifestations of angels.  First, we hear of the Angel of the Lord, which for the most part is not reckoned to be an angel, but to be the Lord YHWH himself.  Next we run into St Michael, the Archangel who is described in Daniel and Revelations.  He is counted as the special angel who is in charge of Israel, and who casts Satan out of heaven.    St. Raphael is mentioned in the book of Tobit and accompanies Tobias on his adventures.  St. Gabriel is mentioned in the New Testament, and he is the Angel who announces the birth of Jesus. Uriel is mentioned in IV Esdras.   Other angels are not mentioned by name.  The Seraphim are described by Isaiah in his vision.  The Cherubim are described by Ezequiel in his vision.  Thrones are mentioned in Colossians, Dominions in Colossians, Virtues in I Peter, Powers in Colossians, and Principalities in Colossians. It should be mentioned that for most classes of angels, there are corresponding classes of demons.  When Satan was cast out of heaven one third of the angels followed him.  Therefore angles, spiritual thought they may be, are like us, capable of choosing between right and wrong.

This day we remember especially St. Michael and the other angels who minister to us, and to those in heaven who give us the example of constantly praising Godl

Please go to the reference above and look at the 71 versions of St. Michael, truly fascinating.

Collect:  Dear Lord, as you created a vast order of angelic hosts to worship you and do your will, grant that we too like your angels in heavens would worship you and do your will.  This we ask in the name of our blessed Yeshuah who is higher than the angels.  Amen. 
Lessons:  Isaiah 6:1-3
Hebrew 1:7-14
Mark 13:21-27
Psalm 14

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

St. Sergius. Monk, presbyter

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)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

St. Matthew

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 18, 2013


September 18, 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.

Readings:                                                                    Morning          Evening
18 September                                                                                       Psalm 136
19 September   Numbers 29:12-16       John 1:1-14      Psalm 118        Psalm 144
20 September   Deut. 8:1-5                   John 7:1-9        Ps. 78 p. 1       Psalm 78, p. 2
21 September   Deut. 29:2-6                 John7:10-24     Psalm 81          Psalm 80
22 September   I Kings 8:54-66            John 7:25-31    Ps. 105 p.1      Psalm 105, p.2
23 September   Neh. 9:9-15                 John 7:32-39    Psalm 84          Psalm 135
24 September   Deut. 16:13-15 Mat. 17:1-9      Ps. 106 p1       Psalm 106 p.2
25 September   Num. 29:35-30:1          Rev. 22:1-5      Psalm 99

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)(May be used all 7 days in addition to proper of day.)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

St. John Chrystostom

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

Yom Kippur
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)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Rosh Hashanah: 5 September 2013

Following the Jewish Calendar, today is Rosh Hashanah, 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.  The shofar also announces a call to repentance, a call to worship, and a call to battle. ON this day let the Shofar call us to battle the forces of darkness which seek to destroy our world.  Let us truly repent of our sins, worship our Lord and follow him into battle. 
Following the lessons and collect is a short poem on my reflections celebrating Rosh Hashanah 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)
Listen to the shofar:

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.