Thursday, October 31, 2013

Reformation Day

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 to counteract the Celtic Holliday of Samhain.  

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 28, 2013

Stts. Simon and Jude, apostles                                        

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)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

St. James, brother of our Lord

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. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

William Tyndale, presbyter, translator, martyr: 6 October

William Tyndale (1494-6 Oct 1536)

            Tyndale was born in Gloucestershire, and went on to College at Magdalen College School, Oxford.  He received a B.A. and later a Mastter of Arts and was made sub-deacon.  Eventually he was made decaond an then Presbyter.  He complained that his studies did not include a systematic study of scripture.  He was fluent in seven languages besides English and went to Cambridge.  He then served as chaplain and tutor at Little Sodbury where he ran afoul of the local church authority, which called him in, but did not charge him.  Basically, they told him that the Pope’s ruling were more important to the Bible.  Tyndale’s response was that he would make the ploughboys more learned in scripture than the scholars (by rendering them to the English Language).

In 1523 he left for London to seek permission to translate the scriptures into the English language.  He first went to Bishop Tunstall who had studied the Greek New Testament with Erasthmus, but the learned Bishop said he had no room for him.  With the help of cloth merchant Henry Monmouth, Tyndale studied and preached in London.  
Tyndale left England in 1524 and began his translation of the New Testament directly from the Greek, and travelled to Wittenberg.  He also used this time to study Hebrew.  He began publishing in 1525, but was delayed until 1526, and was published in Worms, a free imperial city.  Soon the New Testament was published in Antwerp and smuggled into England and Scotland, and was condemned in October of 1526, and ordered to be burned.  Tyndale was condemned as a heretic.  By 1529 we find him working on the Old Testament, possibly in Hamburg.  Tyndale challenged Henry VIII’s divorce, because it was not scriptural, and raised the ire of the King who tried unsuccessfully to extradite him from the Holy Roman Empire.   Betrayed by a friend to the imperial authorities, he was captured in 1535 in Antwerp, tried for heresy, condemned to death, strangled while tied to the stake and burned.  His last words were, "Lord! Open the King of England's eyes."  Miles Coverdale (20 Jan) went on to finish the translation of the Old Testament and Apocrypha.  

Tyndale was inspired by Wycliffe (whose translation was based on the vulgate) and by the ready availability of the Greek New testament,) and the availability of scholars who spoke Greek and Hebrew.  It is said that about 83% of  the King James New Testament was from Tyndale and about 76% of the Old Testament.  Tyndale was also more successful than Wycliffe because of the instruction of the printing press. 
 His version also influenced the Geneva Bible.  Prior to Tyndale’s time, little scholarship was available in Greek.  The sack of Constantinople changed that as Greeks flooded into Europe.   

Tyndale version was often based on using Greek and Hebrew syntax and idoms, and thus a “fresher” translation which influenced the English language directly and through the King James Version.

Ironically, King Henry VIII authorized the publication of 4 Bibles in English, all of which were dependent on Wycliffe’s work.

:  Father, you gave to your servant William Tyndale the gifts of knowledge and wisdom to translate the scriptures into the English language.  Grant that we would share his passion to share the scriptures with all the world, that they may be made aware that Yeshuah is the way, the light and the truth, and we pray in the blessed name of Yeshuah, Amen.  (red)

Friday, October 4, 2013

St. Francis of Assisi: Monk, Deacon: 4 October 2013

St. Francis of Assisi

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)

Mathew 10:7-10, Psalm 141

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

St. Remigius

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)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

St. Jerome, transferred from the 30th.

St. Jerome

Jerome was born in about 347and was converted and baptised while a student at Rome.  While visiting Trier, he found he was attracted to monastic life, which he tested by living alone in the desert in Syria.  He continued his studies in Greek and Hebrew and went to Antioch in about the year 379 and studied under Gregory of Nazianzus.  From 382-384 he served as secretary to Pope Damascus and spiritual director to women interested in the Monastic life.  After Damascus’s death he returned to Bethlehem and founded a monastery there.  He remained there until his death, 30 September 420.  Jerome is most famous for his translation of  the Bible into the common Latin of the day, which was known as the vulgate.  Jerome was one of a long line of people who wanted to make the Bible available to all people. We note in passing that Jerome unlike others of his day used the Masoritic Text, even though most references in the New Testament were actually to the Septuagint. 

Collect:  Father, you raised up Jerome to render the Bible into the tongue of the common people.  Grant in this and every generation men and women who can make your word clear to us that we may truly worship you, this we ask in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Yeshuah haMoshiach.  Amen.  (white)