Sunday, February 12, 2017THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY (SEPTUAGESIMA)
O God, the strength of all those who put their trust in thee: Mercifully accept our prayers; and because, through the weakness of our mortal nature, we can do no good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace, that in keeping thy commandments we may please thee both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Deuteronomy 30:15-20 , Matthew 5:21-37
Sunday, February 5, 2017THE FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
Set us free, O God, from the bondage of our sins and give us, we beseech thee, the liberty of that abundant life which thou hast manifested to us in thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
I Corinthians 2:1-16
Sunday, January 29, 2017THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
Almighty and everlasting God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of thy people, and in our time grant us thy peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Sunday, January 22, 2017THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and all the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I Corinthians 1:10-18
Genesis 13:2-18 , John 5:2-18
Sunday, January 15, 2017THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that thy people, illumined by thy Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Matthew 2:1-12 , Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 , John 2:1-11
Matthew 2:1-12 , Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 , John 2:1-11
Sunday, January 8, 2017THE EPIPHANY
The Epiphany celebrates Jesus revealed as Christ. January 6 is not only the Feast itself, but also the beginning of a season in which we come to know, one epiphany at a time, Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, our Savior and Redeemer, very God of very God.
In 2017, we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany not only on January 6 (with three said Masses in the Chantry Chapel), but also on Sunday, January 8 with choral services at 11am and 4pm.
At Saint Thomas, we also celebrate the visit of the wise men to the Christ child at an Epiphany Procession, which also includes commemorations of Christ's baptism in the River Jordan and also Christ's first miracle at the wedding of Cana. In 2017, the Epiphany Procession is at 11am and 4pm on Sunday, January 15.
To more fully understand the season of Epiphany, which extends all the way though Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday), consider reading or listening to these sermons.
O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only begotten Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know thee now by faith, to thy presence, where we may Behold thy glory face to face; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Isaiah 49:1-7 , Matthew 12:14-21
Sunday, January 1, 2017THE HOLY NAME OF OUR LORD
A short history of the Feast of the Holy Name, which coincides with New Year's Day, is in Lesser Feast and Fasts, as follows:
"The designation of this day as the Feast of the Holy Name is new to the 1979 revision of the Prayer Book. Previous Anglican Prayer Books called it the Feast of the Circumcision. January first is, of course, the eighth day after Christmas Day, and the Gospel according to Luke records that eight days after his birth the child was circumcised and given the name Jesus.
The Law of Moses required that every male child be circumcised on the eighth day from his birth (Leviticus 12:3); and it had long been the custom to make of it a festive occasion, when family and friends came together to witness the naming of the child.
The liturgical commemoration of the Circumcision is of Gallican origin, and a Council in Tours in 567 enacted that the day was to be kept as a fast day to counteract pagan festivities connected with the beginning of the new year. In the Roman tradition, January first was observed as the octave day of Christmas, and it was specially devoted to the Virgin Mother.
The early preachers of the Gospel lay stress on the name as showing that Jesus was a man of flesh and blood, though also the Son of God, who died a human death, and whom God raised from death to be the Savior (Acts 2:32; 4:12). The name was given to Jesus, as the angel explained to Joseph, because he would 'save his people from their sins' (Matthew 1:21). (The word means 'Savior' or 'Deliverer' in Hebrew.)"
You might consider reading these sermons in the archive regarding the Holy Name.
Eternal Father, who didst give to thine incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we beseech thee, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, even our Lord Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Sunday, December 25, 2016CHRISTMAS DAY
A bit on the history of the development of the feast called Christmas, in which the Church sets aside a day and season to celebrate the incarnation of God in Jesus:
About 1,700 years ago the Church settled on December 25 as Jesus’ birth date for the Christian Year. It seized upon the pagan feast of Natalis Solis Invictus, which among other things marked the lengthening of the light at the winter solstice. The Church appropriated this feast for the Nativity of Christ, baptizing it and reasoning that the Lord’s Incarnation was the beginning of the lengthening of the light of the Sun of Righteousness. So our feast of Christmas began by rubbing shoulders with secular or pagan festivals. Some writers of Antiquity complained that the new rising Christian movement was weakening the Roman Empire and that before long the old gods of Rome would be pushed out. The Emperor Constantine the Great, whose mother Helena was a devout Christian, had already ascribed his military ascendancy to the throne to a vision he had of the cross of Christ; and he had issued an Edict of Toleration for the formerly persecuted faith. Christianity now enjoyed imperial favor, and the celebration of Christmas adorned the Church’s new position.
One very good effect of Christmas in modern times has been the increased American Jewish observance of Hanukkah, which celebrates the victory of Judas Maccabeus over the pagan tyrant Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 167 BC. Antiochus was a king in one of the Hellenistic empires stemming from the conquests of Alexander the Great. He had ordered an altar to Zeus built in the Jerusalem Temple and had swine sacrificed on the Jewish altar. Hanukkah, or the Feast of Lights, celebrates the cleansing and dedication of the temple – it is the Feast of Dedication referenced in St. John 10:22-23 when Jesus walked in the temple in winter. You may find the original Hanukkah story in I Maccabees, chapters 1-4, in the Apocrypha. It is not only a Jewish feast; it is an important antecedent to the time of Christ.
By no means are all modern developments with regard to Christmas reason to lament, O tempora, O mores! The centennial observance of our current church building in 2013 shed light on the influence of the twentieth century on the way the Church celebrates Christmas – a very good influence indeed. In September 2013 we had our parish Hymn-Sing, featuring hymns that were sung a century ago in 1913. The surprise: not one Christmas hymn from that year would be familiar to us today.
The twentieth century has made all the difference. What happened?
The fact is, Christmas as we know and love it is largely the product of the great English choral foundations – collegiate chapels such as King’s College, Cambridge, and great churches such as Westminster Abbey and Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London. Particularly through the development and ensuing popularity of the services of Nine Lessons and Carols led by Boris Ord and David Willcocks at Kings, the beautiful carols, hymns and anthems we cherish made their way across the Atlantic and around the world – thanks in no small measure to recordings.
Before the twentieth century, Protestantism, deeply influenced by its puritan strain, regarded Christmas with suspicion as “popish.” In the nineteenth century, the Oxford and Anglo-Catholic movements promoted the liturgical celebration of Christmas. Pioneering hymnals such as Hymns Ancient and Modern brought the hymnody promoted by English High Churchmen to the pews; but this did not reach the United States and the Episcopal Church’s hymnal until our Hymnal 1916, which was only a beginning. Hymnal 1940 and Hymnal 1982 fully adopted the work of Anglo-Catholic musicians and hymnologists. It is hard to believe, but in 1913 they did not sing Hark the Herald Angels Sing or O Come All Ye Faithful at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue.
What Saint Thomas has now is in many people’s opinion as good as it gets for Christmas music and liturgy. But we are deeply indebted to the Church of England’s great choral foundations, which we both emulate and rival, for this wonderful repertoire.
Almighty God, who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin: Grant that we, being regenerate and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
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