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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

St. Andrew the Apostle

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Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Saint Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ and brought his brother with him: call us, by your holy word, and give us grace to follow you without delay and to tell the good news of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Gospel Reading today for Morning Prayer is the call upon our lives to follow Christ without delay and to tell the good news of His Kingdom. May we all do it in the place where Jesus displayed it most evidently; in the cross. May the Church take on the life that is described by Christ below!

John 12:20-32: Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him. 27 "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? `Father, save me from this hour'? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify thy name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." 29 The crowd standing by heard it and said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." 30 Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out; 32 and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Season of Advent

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The time of waiting is here! It seems strange to say something like that but waiting is what Advent is all about. Advent is not the arrival of the Christmas season, Advent is about preparation for Christmas and all that the Coming of Jesus means. It is a time of restraint. Restraint is something that many people are not able to exercise very well due to the constant presures of a secularised consumerism that dogs even the best of God's saints. The Church looks forward now hoping for the Coming of Christ's Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. It is a kingdom of great power. What sort of spirituality are we expecting and waiting on in the season of Advent? Advent is a season of penitence that comes from such a great hopeful expectation of Christ's coming kingdom into this world. It is about hope of Christ's Coming but also Advent is that spiritual discipline of preparing ourselves for that Coming. What you will notice in the readings and the collects (gathered prayers that you will find prayed each week here) will be reminders to us of the need to reflect, and prepare ourselves for Christ's Second Coming that will be in power and majesty. So, Advent looks forward to the Second Coming of Christ in hope, because of the promise already kept in His First Coming at the Incarnation. It is God's continued faithfulness in the past that launches forward into the present every day. This morning in the collect we were reminded to 'cast away the works of darkness' and to make ourselves ready for Christ who 'shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, that we may rise to the life immortal.'

The readings for the day reflect this theme found in our collect that calls us back to a faithfulness to God, in union with His Son our Lord Jesus Christ since we all shall appear before Him. The readings are Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; and the Gospel Matthew 24:36-44.

Collect: Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and to put on the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility; that on the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. +

The post Eucharistic prayer this morning was especially needed for all that we face in the Anglican Communion today. Every time I read Corinthians I am so reminded of the frailty and brokenness all over the Church. It is this post Eucharistic prayer that says exactly what we all need to commit ourselves to this Advent Season.

So we pray: O Lord our God, make us watchful and keep us faithful as we await the coming of your Son our Lord; that, when he shall appear, he may not find us sleeping in sin but active in his service and joyful in his praise; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Bright's Hymn of Eucharistic Sacrifice

The need to have hope of a renewal of Table Fellowship among the people of God is becoming more and more important to what I see Paul speaking about in his letters, especially in Galatians. It is in my research in Eucharistic Theology of recent months that I am finding this all the more true each day that goes by and coming to my mind on almost every page that I turn in my research. There was so much talking past one another when the controversy was initially fanning into flame and that is always understandable and it is why we are called upon to have patience with one another. As a minister, I frequently remember using hyperbole in order to make a point in a sermon that taken on its own merit could and at times did create a controversy with someone. None of this is to take lightly the great need for Eucharistic corrections on the abuses that were going on leading up to the Reformation. Even Trent acknowledged the need of correctives to take place. When we come to a topic like Eucharistic Sacrifice it is all the more complicated due to the water that is already under the bridge or over the dam or however you want to refer to it. But, I am convinced that we can revisit the aspect of Eucharistic Sacrifice, which many second and third generation reformers did on the Continent and in England that will bring about a more balanced view to what, who, by whom, and to what extent we can talk about the Eucharist as a Sacrifice. One thing we all ought to be able to come to terms with in a common sense sort of a way is that we 'plead' again and again that one sacrifice of Christ at Calvary when we celebrate the Eucharist. It is one and the same sacrifice not a new one or a bloody one, but a making present again of that one sacrifice of Christ for us as the Eucharist always transcends time and space. We are graciously renewed in that sacrifice of Christ every time we feed upon his body and blood in a real objective way. How it happens is a mystery the fact that it happens is simply what the scriptures and tradition teaches us. Now the big question is how we communicate the truths that we have been able to learn over the past 450 plus years in a fresh way that will bring Christians to the Table together rather than eating as a divided body. We are never going to have the perfect church and doctrine no matter how much those who idealise the 17th century want it. So, let's continue to talk about our differences at the Altar/Table and sing the following hymn.

Dr. Bright wrote a hymn that is in the book Hymns Ancient and Modern, no 322 that speaks to the great liturgical act that is celebrated when we break bread and drink from the chalice. It goes as follows:

And now, O Father, mindful of the love
That bought us, once for all, on Calvary's tree,
And having with us Him that pleads above,
We here present, we here spread forth to Thee
That only Offering perfect in Thine eyes,
The one, true, pure, immortal Sacrifice.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Christ the King Sunday

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Well it is hard to believe that another Church Year has come and gone in the rhythm of faith. Time seems to absolutely slip away as we move through every Church Year! Christ the King, Sunday is the day where we celebrate the Universal Kingship of Christ. It was instituted late in the cycle of the Church's life but that does not mean that it is merely some day that is forced to fit into the calendar to keep us busy as we close off the Year awaiting the Season of Advent. Yes, we focus on Christ's Kingship and reign in Ascension Sunday but this day is the Day where the Church renounces the secularisation of our culture and the negative impacts it can and has on Church life. It is to remind us as we end the Year that the entirety of all that we celebrated in the past finds as its point of reference the Kingship and Lordship of Jesus. We celebrate Christ our anointed King who overcame suffering and death and so brought us out of darkness into his kingdom of light.

The entrance antiphon to worship is The Lamb who was slain is worthy to receive strength and divinity, wisdom and power and honour: to him be glory and power for ever. And we pray: That all men will acclaim Jesus as Lord, saying, Almighty and merciful God, you break the power of evil and make all things new in your Son Jesus Christ, the King of the universe. May all in heaven and earth acclaim your glory and never cease to praise you.

The first reading is from Samuel 5:1-3. The responsorial Psalm 121:1-5. The NT Reading is from Colossians 1:12-20 and the Gospel is Luke 23:35-43.

The Lord will reign for ever and will give his people the gift of peace. After we have partaken of Christ in the Holy Eucharist we pray:

Lord, you give us Christ, the King of all creation, as food for everlasting life. Help us to live by his gospel and bring us to the joy of his kingdom, where he lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen. +

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Research Update

It has been a week since I wrote anything so I thought I would make an entry tonight before getting back to the books. I continue to dig deeper and deeper into the Eucharistic theology of Andrewes specifically looking at his view of Eucharistic sacrifice. Presently I am reading Francis Clark's book "Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Reformation." Clark has many great insights (yes, he's a Jesuit) and he has done his homework all the way around but in my opinion he reads too much of Continental Europe's theology of sacrifice into the reformers in England. I am going to try to trace the developmental change from Cranmer, to Hooker, to Andrewes to see why Andrewes' views of Eucharistic sacrifice are much more defined and distinct from what seemed to have been the views of Luther, Bucer, Calvin, Cranmer, Hooker et.al. What I mean by defined and distinct is his way of expressing Eucharistic sacrifice within the context of his biblical and liturgical theology. It very well may be that the early English reformers did rely too heavily on the Continent early on and Andrewes can be seen as a corrective to that. Research will hopefully answer the many questions I have here. What is certain is his heavily relying on the Patristics.

The Continent had an impact on England's liturgical and Eucharistic theology for sure, but to what extent has been and still is a continuing debate. But, something changed in Andrewes' way of discussing the Eucharistic Sacrifice and all that it entails for the life of the Church that is not as prevelant in earlier English reformers. That is what needs to be discussed and investigated more carefully. Much of this research will be looked at in many of Andrewes' writings but most of all in my translation and analysis of Responsio ad Bellarmini. What is for certain in this dialogue besides the fact that the two (Andrewes and Bellarmine) talked past one another was that Andrewes categorically rejected Transubstantiation as an opinion of the schoolman and believed that it should not have been made the essence of true Catholic faith. Andrewes refused to speculate philosophically about the Eucharistic presence but rather is comfortable to leave it as a mystery. He is clearly echoing the Fathers here.

One of the papers that I have recently gained a lot of insight from is Dr. Peter Leithart's Westminster Theological Journal article in 1991 on "What's Wrong with Transubstantiation", which is now being distributed by Biblical Horizons in Niceville, Florida. It has been a while since I read this paper and I picked it up off the shelf the other day to read it again after which I was reminded of what a great paper this is. If you want to get a fresh look into Thomas Aquinas and an overview of Luther and Calvin, this is the article that does it. What cannot happen anymore in Eucharistic theology writings and discussions is a reverting back into a pre-Reformation deadlock and or a Continental canonising of any of the views set forth, including Calvin's. Andrewes offers a Catholic and Reformed approach to Eucharistic sacrifice where I am becoming more and more convinced that he is the catalyst to real meaningful Eucharistic dialogue across the tables of Rome, Orthodoxy, Anglicanism and Protestants in general. So, my prayer is that this research of mine will prove this to be true and that we can move on from our deadlocks and as Leithart has said never to replay the tragedy of Marburg. I should also add, or other ecclesiastically motivated civil wars again! I hope the next big move in the Church will be a move towards Eucharistic intercommunion!

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Christian Life in Sudan

I have had one of those days where the company that I kept this afternoon has stopped me in my tracks. A dear faithful servant of Christ who has just come up from Africa in Sudan graced our home today after church. Bishop Francis Loyo spent the afternoon in our home after we had a meal together of roasted turkey and Yorkshire pudding. He is here in Durham England to get his Masters degree and then is going back to help his people. I sit here and stare out my bedroom window that is brilliant in its scenery as the sun sets at 3:50 pm. The hills in Durham just roll with magnificent greenery and lush beauty but what fills my mind is the suffering and oppression and the many heart-wrenching stories that I heard concerning life in Sudan and the difficulty of ministry there. Bishop Francis is married and has seven children so he said that he felt quite at home with our lot of six.

He was separated from his family at one time due to the war in Sudan for seven years! He wandered through villages looking for them and eventually found them though the children were in different places. He has never known peace in his country. He is a very humble man and the love for Christ flows from every word that comes forth from his mouth. I am honoured to have had him in my home. We will be getting together to pray for his country, family and our Christian brothers and sisters there in Sudan. My eyes have been open more to what Jesus says in the Gospel of Luke about suffering, and oppression, justice and peace like never before. There is so much that we in the West can and should do but I am afraid we do not have Christendom in our minds and hearts. We dreamed all afternoon together of how things should and could be done to better the lives of those who are naked without clothing, hungry and not fed, and have no place to rest their head at night for protection but rather sleep in the forest all around them to keep safe from Muslim attacks. I shared with him the vision of the Peru Mission Team that is doing such a transforming work throughout the country of Peru. When Jesus called us to fulfil the Gospel, this is what he meant: provide for those who suffer like our friends in Sudan. The Gospel has feet in a place like that when you not only bring the people their spiritual needs but physical as well. You must have both in a place like the Sudan or the Gospel cannot possibly have any credibility. This is the furthest thing from what I have often experienced in Western Gnostic religion that embraces an intellectualised faith that is at best worthless! As we dreamed today, I was reminded how our God is a God of hope and resurrection life. He brings to life those things that seemingly look as though they have died. He makes places like the Sudan come to life with the Gospel of King Jesus where life can begin to look like the scenery that is visible outside my bedroom window. I was once told by my bishop to never stop dreaming about my desire to come to England to work and study and here I sit only more and more surprised about how much more God has in mind to teach me in my studies abroad. +Francis needs all the help and support that he can get. He is here for just one year and has invited me to come visit for two weeks in September of next year to see the work that is needed. If you are interested in supporting him and his priests who desperately need and are worthy of any support you can give, please contact me and I will gladly put you into contact with Bishop Francis and you can arrange how you might help clothe the naked, feed the hungry, build homes for the homeless, and give a glass of water in the Name of Jesus.

In the picture is myself, Bishop Francis, and Professor Michael Bohlander who also joined us today for lunch and tea this afternoon. Michael is from East Germany and recently moved to Durham and teaches law in the University. Our families have become quite friendly and he has offered their home to us in East Germany for a visit any time we wish to tour his country. We look forward to that possibly next summer. It has been and is a great day in the Kingdom of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ!
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Friday, November 05, 2004

Guy Fawkes Day

Image hosted by ImageHost.org Image hosted by ImageHost.org Ever since 1605, when James I received a sermon following his deliverance from the Gunpowder plot, sermons have been a very important part of the celebration of the plot.Sermons Provide a measure of how their authors felt about the celebrations of the time. They recording the changing religious and political views through time. Consider how you might compose a sermon today to commemorate the plot.

Sermons 1605-1616
King James I paused every Nov. 5 to hear a sermon on the subject of deliverance. The first such sermon was preached by Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester Nov. 5 1606 “this day of ours, this fifth of November, a day of God’s making; that which was done upon it was the Lord’s doing...This day is the scripture fulfilled in our ears.” The destroyer passed over our dwellings this day. It is our Passover, it is our Purim.”-(Sermons Preached upopn the V of Novembe , in Lancelot Andrewes, XCVI Sermons, 3rd. Edition (London,1635) pp. 889,890, 900-1008

Sermons became a very popular way of celebration and commemoration of the salvation of the nation. One such sermon was that of William Leigh in Standish, Lancashire: “Great Britaines Great Deliverance from the Great Danger of Popish Powder a meditation upon the late intended treason. This sermon of November 5 1606 was dedicated to Prince Henry (heir apparent)William Leigh, Great Britaines Great Deliverance fom the Great Danger of Popish Powder (London 1606). Some sermons were given as endowments by prominent merchants or citizens.

Bonfires have always been just as important as the Guy. They are ancient rituals of celebration which have been present from the earliest times in the British Isles and throughout Europe. Not only is it an ancient ritual but it also commemorates the burning of a Roman Catholic Jesuit who sought to kill King James I and blow up Parliament. There is usually some bodily figure placed on top of the bonfire! That may not be politically correct today so look at this way, there is nothing better than a warm fire no matter how small on a cool November evening. It's cold tonight!!!

(This information was found on the Internet). I chose it because Bishop Lancelot Andrewes is the topic of my PhD dissertation. More information on the celebration can be found on the Internet. We are off to celebrate!!!
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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

All Souls Day

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Collect: Merciful Father,hear our prayer and console us. As we renew our faith in your Son,whom You raised from the dead, strengthen our hope that all our departed brothers and sisters will share in His resurrection,who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,one God, for ever and ever. Amen

The Righteous will be remembered forever; the memory of the righteous is a blessing. Prov. 10:7

Eternal God, our maker and redeemer, grant us with all the faithful departed, the sure benefits of your Son's saving passion and glorious resurrection that, in the last day, when you gather up all things in Christ, we may with them enjoy the fullness of your promises; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. +

"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another." Job 19:25-27a.
    O God, most glorious, most bountiful, accept, we humbly beseech thee, our praises and thanksgivings for thy holy Catholic Church, the mother of us all who bear the name of Christ; for the faith which it hath conveyed in safety to our time, and the mercies by which it hath enlarged and comforted the souls of men; for the virtues which it hath established upon earth, and the holy lives by which it glorifieth both the world and thee; to whom, O blessed Trinity (+), be ascribed all honour, might, majesty and dominion, now and for ever. Amen.
    --Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

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