Thursday, February 1, 2018Brigid
Everliving God, we rejoice today in the fellowship of thy blessed servant Brigid, and we give thee thanks for her life of devoted service. Inspire us with life and light, and give us perseverance to serve thee all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Sunday, February 4, 2018THE PRESENTATION (CANDLEMAS)
Candlemas is always the 40th day of Christmas, or February 2, when, according to the Gospel of Luke, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple. In 2018, in addition to celebrating Candlemas on Friday, February 2, we also are celebrating on Sunday, February 4 so that the maximum number of people can participate and so that we can hear music associated with the feast day.
Here is the account beginning at verse 22 of Luke, chapter 2:
And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (as it is written in the law of the LORD, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. This passage reveals not only yet another epiphany (another revelation that this Jesus is Christ), but it also gives our tradition a great Christmas gift: Simeon's Song, also known as the Nunc dimittis, which the choir sings at every Choral Evensong.
Almighty and everliving God, we humbly beseech thee that, as thy only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple, so we may be presented unto thee with pure and clean hearts by the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Tuesday, February 6, 2018The Martyrs of Japan
Lesser Feasts and Fasts (2006) describes the Martyrs of Japan in this way:
The introduction of Christianity into Japan in the sixteenth century, first by the Jesuits under Francis Xavier, and then by the Franciscans, has left exciting records of heroism and self-sacrifice in the annals of Christian missionary endeavor. It has been estimated that by the end of that century there were about 300,000 baptized believers in Japan.
Unfortunately, these initial successes were compromised by rivalries among the religious orders; and the interplay of colonial politics, both within Japan and between Japan and the Spanish and Portuguese, aroused suspicion about western intentions of conquest. After a half century of ambiguous support by some of the powerful Tokugawa shoguns, the Christian enterprise suffered cruel persecution and suppression.
The first victims were six Franciscan friars and twenty of their converts who were crucified at Nagasaki, February 5, 1597. By 1630, what was left of Christianity in Japan was driven underground. Yet it is remarkable that two hundred and fifty years later there were found many men and women, without priests, who had preserved through the generations a vestige of Christian faith.
O God our Father, who art the source of strength to all thy saints, and who didst bring the holy martyrs of Japan through the suffering of the cross to the joys of life eternal: Grant that we, being encouraged by their example, may hold fast the faith that we profess, even unto death; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Wednesday, February 7, 2018Cornelius
Centurion, first Gentile converted to Christianity
From Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2000:
The author of Acts considered Cornelius’ conversion very momentous for the future of Christianity. He records that it occurred as the result of divine intervention and revelation, and as a response to the preaching of Peter the chief apostle. The experience of Cornelius’ household was regarded as comparable to a new Pentecost, and it was a primary precedent for the momentous decision of the apostolic council, held in Jerusalem a few years later, to admit Gentiles to full and equal partnership with Jewish converts in the household of faith.
O God, who by thy Spirit didst call Cornelius the Centurion to be the first Christian among the Gentiles: Grant to thy Church, we beseech thee, such a ready will to go where thou dost send and to do what thou dost command, that under thy guidance it may welcome all who turn to thee in love and faith, and proclaim the Gospel to all nations; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Thursday, February 8, 2018
Sunday, February 11, 2018THE LAST SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY (QUINQUAGESIMA)
The season after the Epiphany ends in glory, with Jesus revealed once more as Christ. There are many epiphanies within the season: the visit of the magi, the presentation of Jesus in the temple (and Simeon's response), the Lord's baptism, his first miracle at Cana. On this Sunday, the last of the Epiphany season before Ash Wednesday takes us into Lent, we see Christ in all his glory, his transfiguration, atop the mountain.
We celebrate the Transfiguration twice each year: on the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, and on the feast day itself, August 6. At Saint Thomas, there have been many sermons over the years which are helpful in understanding this miraculous event. Among them are these.
O God, who before the passion of thy only-begotten Son didst reveal his glory upon the holy mount: Grant unto us that we, beholding by faith the light of his ountenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Tuesday, February 13, 2018Absalom Jones
d.February 13, 1818
At St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church, he served as lay minister for its Black membership.The active evangelism of Jones and that of his friend, Richard Allen, greatly increased Black membership at St. George’s. The alarmed vestry decided to segregate Blacks into an upstairs gallery, without notifying them. During a Sunday service when ushers attempted to remove them, the Blacks indignantly walked out in a body.
In 1787, Black Christians organized the Free African Society, the first organized Afro-American society, and Absalom Jones and Richard Allen were elected overseers. Members of the Society paid monthly dues for the benefit of those in need. The Society established communication with similar Black groups in other cities. In 1792, the Society began to build a church, which was dedicated on July 17, 1794.
The African Church applied for membership in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania on the following conditions: 1, that they be received as an organized body; 2, that they have control over their local affairs; 3, that Absalom Jones be licensed as layreader, and, if qualified, be ordained as minister. In October 1794 it was admitted as St. Thomas African Episcopal Church. Bishop White ordained Jones as deacon in 1795 and as priest on September 21, 1802.
Set us free, O heavenly Father, from every bond of prejudice and fear; that, honoring the steadfast courage of thy servant Absalom Jones, we may show forth in our lives the reconciling love and true freedom of the children of God, which thou hast given us in thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Wednesday, February 14, 2018ASH WEDNESDAY
Ash Wednesday begins the holy season of Lent, a 40-day period (excluding Sundays) extending through Holy Week as we approach Easter.
The imposition of ashes occurs at all three liturgies of the day -- 8am, 12:10pm and 5:30pm -- as well as throughout the day in between these services. Simply enter the Fifth Avenue doors and walk down the center aisle toward the high altar.
Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Sunday, February 18, 2018THE FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT
On the first Sunday in Lent, we ask God to save us in the time of trial -- to think on his mercy and not our many offenses. Always timely.
As you prepare your heart and mind for Lent, you might find these sermons helpful.
Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted of Satan: Make speed to help thy servants who are assaulted by manifold temptations; and, as thou knowest their several infirmities, let each one find thee mighty to save; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Wednesday, February 21, 2018John Henry Newman
Thursday, February 22, 2018
Sunday, February 25, 2018THE SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT
O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from thy ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of thy Word, Jesus Christ thy Son; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Tuesday, February 27, 2018George Herbert