Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Stts. Timothy and Titus: (Transferrred from Sunday)

Timothy and Titus
28 January (transferred from Sunday)



Timothy was from Lystra in Asia Minor, son of a Greek father and a Jewish mother, who was a believer in the Lord Yeshua.  His name means honouring God.  The church in Lystra and Iconium thought well of him, and because of the Jews and his Jewish mother, Paul had him circumcised.   Timothy was a devoted companion of St. Paul and was entrusted by him to represent him to the Corinthians, to strengthen the faith of the converts, and the Thessalonians to encourage them in persecution.  He also was Paul’s representative to Ephesus, and is counted by Eusebius to be the first Bishop of Ephesus.  He apparently died at about the age of eighty, stoned to death, at in the year 97, when preaching the Gospel during a pagan procession

Titus, like Timothy was a constant companion of Paul.  Titus was a Greek who accompanied Paul to Jerusalem at the time of the Ecumenical Council.  Titus, like Timothy went to Corinth to represent St. Paul.  Later St. Paul sent him to Crete to organize the churches there, and is counted as the first Bishop of Crete by Eusebius.   The last we hear of Titus is a visit to Dalmatia.  He died at the age of 95 in about the year 107.   

Though both young, St. Paul commends them with great responsibility in administration and in proclaiming the Gospel.  Both are commemorated the day after the Conversion of St. Paul since their ministry intertwined with theirs, and because he was their mentor.

Collect:  Blessed Lord, you raised up Timothy and Titus to be Bishops in your church.  So raise up in this and every generation Bishops who will follow the pure teachings of your blessed word that the church would grow in faith and knowledge and love of you.  This we ask in the name of Yeshua haMoshiach who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen. 

Psalm 112:1-9
Isaiah 42:5-9
Acts 15:22-26, 30-33, 16:1-5
John 10:1-10
(If the Eucharist is not celebrated today, used the lesson from Acts at Matins)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Gregory of Nazizus, Bishop (27 January 2014)

Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 329– January 25 389 or 390) was Archbishop of Constantinople in the 4th century.  He greatly influenced Greek and Latin speaking theologians and his work continues to influence theologians today.  He and the two brothers, Gregory of Nyssa, and Basil the great are known as the Cappadocian fathers, and together with Basil the Great and John Chrysostom are the great hierarchs in the Eastern Church.

Gregory’s parents were wealthy, and his mother, Nona converted his father Gregory to Christianity, and Gregory came to be Bishop of Nazianzus.   Gregory the son, after studying at home studied in Nazianzus, Caesarea, Alexandria and Athens.  On the way to Athens, during a storm which frightened him, Gregory promised God he would serve him if God would save him.  He continued to teach in Athens before returning home. 

His father desired to ordain him to the presbyterate, so Gregory could help him, but Gregory, preferring the monastic life, resented this, and left, living for a short time with Basil the great, who convince him to return and help his father.  Upon his return, he found divisions, which he was able to heal through his gifts of diplomacy and oratory.

By this time, the emperor Julian had declared himself to be opposed to Christianity.  Gregory wrote Invectives against Julian stating that the emperor should be opposed through love and patience. He also stated that this was a form of theosis, in which we become more like God.   Julian worked against those who opposed him until his death during a war against the Persians.  Gregory and Basil then embarked in a rhetorical war against the Arians, and clearly beat the Arians.  This success led them to be elected Bishops.

Basil was elected as Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, and ordained Gregory as Bishop of Sasima, which he had newly created so that Gregory could aid him.  Gregory was unhappy in this position, desiring to return to the contemplative life, and not wishing to be involved in politics as Basil’s pawn.  Instead he went to help his father as co-adjutor of Nazianzus until his father’s death.  He continued to work in the area, but refused to be named bishop, living a simple life. 

In 379, the synod of Antioch under Melatus asked Gregory to go to Constantinople to reestablish Orthodoxy as opposed to Arianism.  A cousin offered him a villa, most of which he converted into a church (Anastasia, or Resurrection) from which he delivered powerful sermons on the Trinity and Unity of the Godhead.  His opponents fearing his popularity attacked and entered the church, injuring Gregory and killing another bishop.  The situation was confused, with Gregory staying (convinced by his followers), but with Arian priests in some of the churches, and remained so until the arrival of  the Emperor, Theodosius, who had Gregory enthroned as patriarch of Constantinople, taking the place of Demophilus. 

Theodosius and Gregory called the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 381 for the express purpose of uniting the empire behind Trinitarian Christianity.  After the death of the presiding Bishop, Gregory took over the council.  In order to prevent division, Gregory renounced his position as Patriarch, and after giving a farewell speech, he returned to Nazianzus as Bishop, struggling with heretics and poor health.  Eventually, finding himself to weak to continue his work, he appointed a new bishop to serve Nazianzus and retired to his parents estate where he lived for another five years until his death on 25 January 389 (or 390).

Gregory’s greatest role was in the defense of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and in Pneumatology.  He gave us the term procession referring to the Holy Spirit and emphasized that Jesus did not cease being God, nor did he lose his divine attributes when he became man. 

Collect:  Heavenly Father, you strengthened Gregory of Nazianzus through sickness and persecution.  As he was on fire with love for you, so train us up that we may be aflame with your love and share it with all the world.  This we ask through  Yeshua haMoshiach who lives and reins with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (white)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Conversion of St. Paul, last day of week of prayer for Christian Unity


The account of the Conversion of St. Paul is repeated several times in the Book of Acts.  Paul was a citizen of Rome, from Tarsus.  He was also a Pharisee, of the tribe of Benjamin and studied under Gamaliel, the most famous Rabbi of his time.

Paul was a true Pharisee, he loved God, but thought that salvation was earned by obeying the 613 Mitzvot (commandments) found in the Tanakh or Old Testament.  Paul had it reversed, thinking we are saved because we obey, and he did his best to obey, to the point of witnessing the martyrdom of Stephan, and by getting warrants to throw Christians in prison, and even have them killed.

On his way to Damascus, he had an experience to transform his life forever.  He comes face to face with the risen Lord, who even suggests that Saul might be sympathetic to Christians (“why are you kicking against the goads?” says Jesus to Paul).  He who was spiritually blind comes face to face with Yeshua and is struck blind literally.  We who are spiritually blind need to be careful when we say we see, for our sin will be greater.  Paul realizes something is going on, and he fasted for three days.  On the third day, Ananias, a follower of the way is directed by the Lord to go heal Saul.  Ananias has some misgivings, but obeys the Lord.   Saul recovers his sight and is immediately baptised.  He has come from trying to be saved through obedience to obeying because he is saved.  Would that all Christians would learn to thank the Lord through his obedience. 

Paul goes form persecuting the church, to proclaiming Yeshua as Messiah, a Messiah not only for Jews, but for Goyim (gentiles) as well, the true saviour of the world.  Paul was a prolific writer and evangelist.  Thirteen Epistles were written by Paul.  He also traveled extensively in what is now Italy, Syria, Turkey, Greece, Crete, and Malta.  We know he planned on visiting Spain, and probably did.  There is also some evidence he may have made it to Britain as well.  Only St. Thomas made it further than Paul amongst the Apostles. 

Paul talked about a thorn in his flesh, which God would not cure, telling Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.”  I suggest that the thorn in the flesh (it has been identified with everything from poor eyesight to homosexuality) was deliberately not identified, so that we could each say, God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness in that area.

Whether we write, or preach, or go telling others about Yeshua, we need to have Paul’s enthusiasm, and his thankfulness, and great desire to spread the Good News to all nations. 

Collect of the Day:  Lord, as we remember your appearance to St. Paul and his marvelous conversion on this day, so move in our hearts that we would share his passion to proclaim the Gospel.  This we ask in the name of Yeshua haMoshiach who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (white)

Psalm 67
Acts 26:9-21
Galatians 1:11-24

Matthew 10:16-22
If there is no celebration of the Eucharist today, use the lesson from Acts with matins 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Miles Coverdale, presbyter, translator (tranferred from 19 January)

Miles Coverdale (c1488-20 Jan.  1569) was a Bible translator during the time of the reformation.  He was born in Yorkshire, studied at Cambridge and was a priest at Norwich.  Later he joined the Austin Fryers and left after defending Robert Barnes in a heresy trial. From 1525 through 1538 he stayed on the continent working on his translation.  Part of this time was spent working with William Tyndale, whose translation of the New Testament was used in Coverdale’s translation.  This Bible was smuggled into England and was very popular.  After Cramer convinced Henry VIII that an English Bible would be a good thing, he put Coverdale to work on editing.   Coverdale’s first work was weak, in part because it was translated from Latin, not from the original languages.  Coverdale’s work on the Psalms in the Great Bible was very good, and these became the Psalms used in the Anglican Book of Common prayer, making these versions very well known even to today.  After Cromwell was executed, Coverdale went back into exile, and did not return until 1548.  He was made Chaplain to King Edward, and made Bishop of Exeter, which role he fulfilled well.  After the succession of Queen Mary, he was deposed and again went into exile.  After Queen Mary’s death, he returned to England in 1559, and server as rector of St. Magnus’s, but was not returned to his Bishopric, probably because of conflicts with Puritans regarding vestments.  He was a popular preacher and introduced German theological ideas to England.  He died in London and is buried there.

His chief contribution was the translation of the Psalter used in the Book of Common Prayer.

Dear Lord, you raised up Miles Coverdale to work on presenting the Bible to the people of England in a language which they could understand.  As he suffered much in this work, yet was faithful to you and your word, raise up in this and every generation men who are good and holy  with a mission to help Christians understand your word.  This we ask in the name of Yeshuah who revealed the Tanakh to the Jews.  Amen.  . 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

St. Vincent of Saragoza, Deacon, Martyr: 22 January 2014

St. Vincent of Zaragoza (died 304)

St. Vincent was born in Huesca, Spain.  He lived in Zaragoza and served as Deacon to the Bishop Valerius.  According to legend, when he and Valerius were brought to trial, that Valerius could not respond due to a speech impediment.  Receiving the Bishops permission to speak, Vincent  launched into a fervent defence of the faith.  Even his gaoler was converted.  Vincent suffered many severe torments, before dying without renouncing his Lord. 

Collect:  Heavenly Father, as you raised Vincent to be deacon in Saragossa, and gave him eloquence to proclaim and strength to die for his faith, so fill us with your spirit that we would always be ready to proclaim the Gospel and to live and die for Yeshua.  In the name of Yeshua we pray, Amen.  (red)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

St. Agnes: 21 January 2014

St. Agnes (c. 291-21 January 304)

Agnes was born to a noble family in Rome in about the year 291.  She was raised as a Christian and was martyred at the tender age of 12.  A Roman Prefect had decided that she was to marry his son.  When Agnes refused, the prefect ordered that she be put to death.  As it was forbidden to kill virgins, she was dragged to the brothel, but the men who attempted to rape her were struck blind.  When they took her to the stake to burn her, the wood would not burn.  She was finally beheaded by the sword, cheerfully dying for her Lord.   

It is said that her martyrdom helped end martyrdoms in Rome, as people were disgusted that paganism had to be preserved by the death of one so young. 

(readings may be omitted if no celebration of the Eucharist. )

Collect: Lord Yeshua, who gave even children the strength to stand up for the true faith in face of persecution.  Give us Agnes’s child like faith that we may always witness as to what you have done for us.  This we ask through Yeshua haMoshiach, who lives and reins with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (red)

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Epiphany, or Theophany: January 2014

The Epiphany, also known as the theophany is an ancient celebration of the church.  Epiphany means manifestation, and theophany means manifestation of God.  As celebrated originally, Epiphany had a four fold theme, the birth of Christ, the visit of the Magi, the Baptism of Christ, and the first miracle of Christ.  Epiphany was celebrated before Christmas, but when the church began celebrating Christmas, this theme was removed from Epiphany except in Armenia, which still does not celebrate Christmas..

With the removal of Christmas, the main theme came to be the visit of the Magi, which occurred when Jesus was about two years old.  In fact the gold presented by the magi probably financed the trip to Egypt. The theme of the magi is important to us, because it is when the gentiles (goyim) first come to worship Christ.  Many people believe that the Magi were from Persia, and recognised the coming presence of the Messiah from the book and other writings of Daniel.  We note in passing that the Bible does not state there were three, but this idea probably arose because of the three gifts, gold (kingship), frankincense (priesthood) and myrrh (burial).  In Persia (Iran) legends claim that the magi returned and proclaimed the Gospel.  

The theme of the Baptism of Christ is kept for the Sunday following Epiphany and is a highly appropriate day for baptisms.  In our church, in year D we observe the Wedding of Cana on the following Sunday. 

The season of Epiphany concentrates on manifestations of Jesus, particularly in healing. It is also a time in which we emphasise the need and importance of evangelism.

Collect:  Lord God almighty, by the light of a star you guided the Magi into the presence of Yeshua to give him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  So let the light of Yeshua shine out through our hearts, that those around us would be drawn to your presence to render you homage and accept you as Lord and Saviour.  This we ask in the blessed name of Yeshua haMoshiach.  Amen. (gold)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Holy Name of Jesus

Today is celebrated by the church as the Circumcision of Christ, or The Holy Name.  Both names are important to us. This is eight days after Christmas.  All good Jewish boys were circumcised eight days after their birth.  This is the first time that Jesus, or Yeshua sacrifices his blood in order to complete the law.  He spent the rest of his life obeying the Law perfectly, so that he could be a pure lamb without blemish, which could be sacrificed for our sins.

Secondly, the Holy Name.  Yeshua (Jesus in Aramaic) from Hebrew, Yah Shua means, “God Saves.”  It is very important that as Christians we understand the full significance of this name.  Shua is much more than “save” as we understand the word.  Wycliff in his translation of the Bible translated it as heal.  Jesus the healer, Jesus died to heal us.  Wycliff was not in error.  The word means heal just as much as it means saved.  The word implies that we are made completely whole, body, mind and spirit.  We are saved from death, from hell and from sickness of body, mind or spirit.  To be made whole, we are also saved or made whole for this life here on earth.  When we have been saved or healed, we begin the process of sanctification, in which we become holy people.  God peals us like an onion removing everything that is not of him.  Usually this is a gradual process, although there are times when it can be all at once.  As we submit our selves to God, asking him to heal and purify us, we will usually find another problem waiting to be solved.  True saints are always aware how sinful they are. 

As we submit ourselves more and more to God, and he heals us, from infirmities, disease, addictions, bad attitudes, sin, we experience shalom.  Shalom is like shua.  It is not just peace as the world defines peace.  Shalom is peace with nature, peace with God, peace with society, peace with ourselves.  Peace in good times, peace in bad.

So every time we pronounce the name of Yeshua, let us truly think about the salvation he gives us. 

Collect:  :    Emanuel, you who are with us, help us to remember that the name of Yeshua proclaims your salvation and healing, and through his finished work on the cross he completed his obedience to the law and the prophets began on this day, when he first shed blood in obedience.  Help us so to contemplate his holy name that we would truly accept that salvation, healing, and wholeness and that our obedience to you would lead to salvation and healing of many.  This we ask in the name of Yeshua haMoshiach who lives and governs with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen. 

Psalm 8;
Exodus 34:1-8;                                                                                                                        Romans 1:1-7;                                                                                                                      Luke 2:15-21