Friday, June 3, 2016The Martyrs of Uganda
The first Christian missionaries came to Uganda in the 1880s. By 1886, thirty-two young men, all members of the court of the Ugandan king, were burned to death when they refused to renounce their faith. Accepting their fates, the martyrs went to their deaths with prayers for their tormenters on their lips, which so impacted and impressed observers and onlookers that interest in Christianity rose as a result of the public martyrdom. By the time of the Uganda Census of 2002, approximately 85% of Ugandans were Christian (about half of whom Anglican), making Uganda the most Christian nation in Africa.
At Saint Thomas, Uganda is third (after South Africa and Nigeria) in the number of visitors to our website from countries in Africa.
O God, by whose providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: Grant that we who remember before thee the blessed martyrs of Uganda, may, like them, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ, to whom they gave obedience even unto death, and by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Sunday, June 5, 2016THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST (Pr. 5)
Friday, June 10, 2016Ephrem
Lesser Feasts & Fasts of the Episcopal Chruch summarizes the life of Ephrem in this way:
Ephrem of Edessa was a teacher, poet, orator, and defender of the faith — a voice of Aramaic Christianity, speaking the language Jesus spoke, using the imagery Jesus used. Edessa, a Syrian city, was a center for the spread of Christianity in the East long before the conversion of the western Roman empire.
The Syrians called Ephrem “The harp of the Holy Spirit,” and his hymns still enrich the liturgies of the Syrian Church. Ephrem was one whose writings were influential in the development of Church doctrine. Jerome writes: “I have read in Greek a volume of his on the Holy Spirit; though it was only a translation, I recognized therein the sublime genius of the man.”
Ephrem was born at Nisibis in Mesopotamia. At eighteen, he was baptized by James, Bishop of Nisibis. It is believed that Ephrem accompanied James to the famous Council of Nicaea in 325. He lived at Nisibis until 363, when the Persians captured the city and drove out the Christians.
Ephrem retired to a cave in the hills above the city of Edessa. There he wrote most of his spiritual works. He lived on barley bread and dried herbs, sometimes varied by greens. He drank only water. His clothing was a mass of patches. But he was not a recluse, and frequently went to Edessa to preach. Discovering that hymns could be of great value in support of the true faith, he opposed Gnostic hymns with his own, sung by a choir of women.
During a famine in 372-373, he distributed food and money to the poor and organized a sort of ambulance service for the sick. He died of exhaustion, brought on by his long hours of relief work.
Of his writings, there remain 72 hymns, commentaries on the Old and New Testaments, and numerous homilies. In his commentary on the Passion, he wrote: “No one has seen or shall see the things which you have seen. The Lord himself has become the altar, priest, and bread, and the chalice of salvation. He alone suffices for all, yet none suffices for him. He is Altar and Lamb, victim and sacrifice, priest as well as food.”
The words to #443 in our 1982 Hymnal were written by Ephrem.
Pour out upon us, O Lord, that same Spirit by which thy deacon Ephrem rejoiced to proclaim in sacred song the mysteries of faith; and so gladden our hearts that we, like him, may be devoted to thee alone; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Sunday, June 12, 2016THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST (Pr. 6)
Friday, June 17, 2016
Sunday, June 19, 2016THE FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST (Pr. 7)
O Lord, we beseech thee, make us to have a perpetual fear and love of thy holy Name, for thou never failest to help and govern those whom thou hast set upon the sure foundation
of thy loving-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Proper 7)
Friday, June 24, 2016THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST
In 2012 and 2007, the feast day fell on a Sunday, which created the opprotunity for these sermons:
You might also find these other recent sermons about John the Baptist helpful:
- A Lesson from the Book of Revaluation (2012) by Fr Spurlock
- How's the Topography of your Soul? (2012) by Fr Mead
- A Prophet for Christmas (2012) by Fr Spurlock
- The Dancing Girl (2012) by Fr Daniels
Note how the calendar works. Today we celebrate the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, which means he was less than one month from birth when Mary visited Elizabeth, which we celebrated on The Feast of the Visitation on May 31, a time when John is said to have leaped in the womb of his mother at the arrival of Mary carrying Jesus.
Almighty God, by whose providence thy servant John the Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Savior by preaching repentance: Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Sunday, June 26, 2016THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST (Pr. 8)