Monday, June 9, 2014

Ephrem of Edessa

Ephrem of Edessa (306-10 June 379) Was born in Nissibus during  a time of persecution.  Ephrem was baptised as a youth, and made teacher soon after.  He was ordained a deacon at a relatively young age.  It is said he founded the school of Nissibus which became the center of learning for the Assyrian Church of the East. 

Upon the death of Constantine, Nissibus was attacked by the Persians, but not conquered.  One of Ephrem’s early hymns reflects this event.  Eventually events lead to Nisibus being conquered, but the Christians were allowed to leave.  Ephrem found himself with refugees who ended up in Edessa, where he settled to serve the church.

Edessa was full of heresies, and Ephrem composed at least 400 hymns set to folk melodies in Syriac to oppose these heresies.  The hymns were sung by an all woman’s choir.  In addition to his hymns, he wrote poetic sermons, and prose work based on the scriptures.  IN addition he encouraged reading the scriptures for faith, as opposed to critical analysis.

His works inspired many and he was mourned after his death.  He inspires us with a non-european form of Christianity.  He also inspires us to use good (secular) music to promote Christian ideas.

Oh Lord, as you gave your deacon, Ephrem the ability to compose hymns to build up the church in faith and  knowledge of you, raise up in this and every generation those who teach the true faith by song and charitable works, that we may every glorify your holy name.  This we ask through Yeshuah haMoshiach, who lives and reins with you and Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (white)

Columcille (Columba) pf Iona

Columcille (7 December 521 – 9 June 597 AD)

Columcille was born into a family of Irish high kings in 521 in County Donegal, Ireland.  He studied at Clonnard Abbey and was ordained Deacon, and then Presbyter .  Because of his missionary zeal he was recognised as one of the 12 apostles of Ireland.

In 563,he travelled to Scotland with 12 companions with the intention of preaching the Gospel to the Picts.  King Conall, a cousin of Columcille gave him the Isle of Iona, which was about half way between his home country and the Caledonian Picts.   A rough monastic settlement was quickly built, with church, refectory, and cells made of wattle, and it became Columcille’s base for proclaiming the Gospel to the Picts, especially north of Strathclyde and as far as Aberdeenshire and the Hebrides as well.  It is said that he left for Scotland in order to win as many souls for Christ, as those who died in a war that he may have inspired, over a disagreement which may have had to do with a book he copied. 

His first missionary success was with King Bridei who was impressed by miracles wrought at Columcille’s hand. 

As Iona was base for evangelising Scotland, it became a missionary school for the entire Island of Britain.  We note in passing that King Oswold of Northumbria was educated in Northern Scotland and was therefore affected by teachings from Iona, and requested a Bishop from Iona to convert his people. 

In addition to being a missionary outpost, Iona became a centre of learning and study, and Columcille, as a religious man became a diplomat between warring kings.

When at Iona, Columcille was no idle man.  He occupied himself in writing hymns, copying books, study and prayer.  It is said he died before the altar of the church of Iona. 

Heavenly Father, for penance, Columba was sent to gather members for the kingdom.  Grant that as he proclaimed the gospel to Scotland, that we in shame for our sins should proclaim with the same fervour the Gospel to our neighbours and families.  This we ask through Yeshua who lives and reins with you and Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (white)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Martyrs of Uganda

While there are many martyrs in Uganda reaching into modern times, such as Bishop James Hannnington and Archbishop Janani Luwum, chiefly we remember the 32 pages of king  Mwanga of Buganda who marched joyfully singing hymns and praying for the king, to be burned at the stake, rather than to submit to the sexual advances of their king.  The martyrdoms did not have the desired result.  The joyful attitude that they shared sparked a general interest in Jesus and Christianity, leading to rapid growth of the church.  The church of Uganda is truly Christian, and truly African, and Uganda today is the most Christian nation in Africa. 

Interestingly enough, while Lesser Feasts and Fasts mentions rebellion against the king, they today neglect to mention the straw that broke the camel's  back, even though  editions did.  It is a blot on their blessed memory that political correctness and the attempt to call evil good should change the story. )

Let us go joyfully with them praising the Lord and proclaiming the truth of his salvation and holiness of life.

Psalm 138
Habakkuk 2:9-14
Hebrews 10:32-39 
Matthew 24:9-14

Collect of the Day:

Heavenly Father, you gave the young martyrs of Uganda strength and courage to refuse to have inappropriate relations with the king and to go joyfully to their death by burning, singing hymns on the way.  Grant us grace in our society which glorifiess perversion to   stand up for the truth of obedience to your word, and to proceed joyfully, glorifying you in all that we do and say.  This we ask through our blessed saviour, Yeshuah haMoshiach, who lives and reins with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (red)

(note, while the Anglican Church of Uganda was begun in 1877, today it is larger than the Episcopal church of the USA)