Santa Claus vs. Arius, again

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Dear friends in Christ,

And the Word was made flesh

The Theology of Christmas class concludes on December 31 at 10 a.m. In this session, we look at the prologue to the Gospel of John (1:1-14), and its implications for later understandings of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. Note there is no class on December 24.

The Genesis of Orthodoxy class continues January 7

The Sunday class continues its study of the origin and development of the Christian theological tradition on January 7 at 10 a.m. The Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431) affirmed that Mary could be described as the theotokos (“God-bearer” or “Mother of God”) but the controversy over the two natures of Christ raged on. In this session, the class looks at the background to the Council of Chalcedon (451), as the Church began to formulate what would become the definitive orthodox position.

The Rector’s Christian Doctrine class begins January 9

Newcomers to Saint Thomas are invited to the Rector’s Christian Doctrine Class, which is a comprehensive introduction to the Christian faith as received and understood by the Episcopal Church. The first session is on Tuesday, January 9 at 6:30 p.m. The sessions continue on most Tuesday evenings through May 8. Although the course is specifically designed for those who are considering confirmation or reception into the Episcopal Church (the ceremony occurs on May 13, 2018), it is fitting for anyone who wishes to explore Christianity, or who wishes to be refreshed in the faith. Everyone is welcome. See complete details on the website, or contact David Daniel at [email protected] with any questions about this class or about membership at Saint Thomas.

Saint Thomas Book Group begins January 24

Would you like to read some good books and have some good conversation about them with others? If so, beginning Wednesday January 24 at 6:30 p.m. in Andrew Hall, and meeting monthly thereafter, Father Spurlock leads a discussion on a book of the month. The only requirement to join the discussion is that you have read the book. In keeping with the season at hand, the first selection is Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The Simon Armitage translation is recommended; copies are available for purchase in the Saint Thomas bookstore.

The Emperor and the Bishops: The Politics of Language and Faith in the Fifth-Century Church

On Wednesday, January 31, at 6:30 p.m., the Rt. Rev. Allen K. Shin, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of New York, gives a lecture in which he discusses the complex interaction between politics, religion, and national identities in the Church of the patristic age. While debating fundamental theological doctrines about Christ, the bishops were also speaking different languages, living in different cultures, and negotiating different relationships with the emperor. The result was a series of heated controversies which nevertheless formed the Christian tradition as we know it today. The lecture is held in Andrew Hall.

Saint Nicholas versus Arius, again

I was glad to hear from several of you last week that you enjoyed the Christmas carol about St. Nicholas, the Arians, and the Nicene Creed, set to the tune of Jingle Bells. I also received several other, er, alternative, presentations of orthodoxy, from one in nursery rhyme form –

Mary had a little lamb,
Eternally begot.
For contra Arius, there was
No time when he was not.

– to a comic strip, in rhyming couplets, about St. Nicholas’s visit to Nicaea. The authors of the latter are to be commended for their linguistic facility in, for example, rhyming “conclusion” and “homoousion” (“of the same substance”). The authors also make reference to a legend that an outraged St. Nicholas punched Arius at the Council of Nicaea, illustrated in the image above. This is almost certainly not true; Arius was not a bishop so it is unlikely that he was at the council. Nonetheless, it makes the important point that our Christmas celebrations only matter if Jesus of Nazareth is God incarnate. He was, and he is. Veni, Veni, Emmanuel.

Yours in Christ,