Tuesday, January 13, 2015

St. Hillary of Poitiers, Bishop:: 113 January 2014

Hillary of Poitiers (c.315-368)

Hillary was born to well off pagan parents in the city of Poitiers.  Unusual for his time, in addition to having a good education in Latin, he also studied Greek.  Because of knowing Greek he was exposed to the scriptures, and came to know Jesus, and to know who he was, a son of the living God. 

Married and the father of one daughter, Hillary was elected by the Christians of Poitiers as Bishop in 353 (Celibacy was not a requirement for many more years).  Embroiled in arguments about Arians and removing Arian Bishops, Hillary was exiled to Phrygia.  Not one to waste his time, he visited the churches in the area and studied scriptures and put his time to good use. After four years he was sent back to Poitiers because the emperor (an Arian) said  “he was a troublemaker and sower of discord, and disturber of the orient.” (In other words, Hillary was gaining ground against the Arians through his preaching.)   Hillary took a leisurely trip through Greece and Italy preaching against the Arians as he went. 

Hillary wrote several works against the Arians, and several works on the Trinity and on the two natures of Christ.  He also brought back hymns from the east, translating them and wrote some of his own compositions.  He is regarded as the father of Western hymnody, and also known as the Athanasius of the west.  One of his disciples was St. Martin of Tours.  Hillary died peacefully in 368, possibly on the 13th of January.

(In passing:  Arians did not believe that Jesus was God.  They believed he was a higher creation than man, but beneath God.  Today the Jehovah’s Witnesses are an example of Arianism)

Collect:  Dear Lord, as Hillary of Poitiers stood against heresy, and defended the true faith, help us also to stand against heresy that we may always stand for truth.  This we ask through Yeshua haMoshiach who lives and reins with you and Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen.  (white)

Readings for the Eucharist If no celebration of the Eucharist, follow the normal readings for Matins and Vespers.

Psalm 37:3-6, 32-33
Zechariah 6:9-15
1 John 2:18-25
 Luke 12:8-12 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Epiphany: 6 January 2015

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)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Holy Name of Jesus: 1 January 2015

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 ourselves 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