Sunday, June 2, 2019THE SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
The Seventh Sunday of Easter is also called The Sunday after Ascension Day. Because Ascension Day is always the 40th Day of Easter and Pentecost is always the 50th Day, The Sunday after Ascension Day is always the Sunday preceding the Day of Pentecost.
These last 10 days of Easter are called Ascensiontide, the period of time after Christ ascended to the Father, yet before the coming of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. To the contemporaries of Christ, it was therefore a time of waiting.
O God, the King of glory, who hast exalted thine only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph unto thy kingdom in heaven: We beseech thee, leave us not comfortless, but send to us thine Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us unto the same place whither our Savior Christ is gone before; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Sunday, June 9, 2019THE DAY OF PENTECOST (WHITSUNDAY)
Today we mark the arrival of the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, the Comforter, an arrival which (2,000 years ago) transformed fearful and self-conscious men and women into fearless and selfless evangelists for Christ. Pentecost is, in many ways, the birthday of the Church. But it is not merely that. It is the acknowledgement and celebration of the on-going action of God in our lives, through the Spirit.
To gain a richer understanding, consider these sermons:
I Believe in the Holy Ghost (2011) by Fr Daniels
A Sermon for the Day of Pentecost (2010) by John Polkinghorne
The Holy Spirit Gives us a Future (2010) by Fr Austin
From Pentecost to Pop Hale to Fifth Avenue (2009) by Fr Mead
Three Points about Pentecost (2008) by Fr Mead
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, There is Freedom (2006) by Fr Austin
O God, who on this day didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people by sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
Sunday, June 16, 2019TRINITY SUNDAY
Trinity Sunday fittingly comes one week after the Day of Pentecost, which marked the arrival of the Holy Spirit, who, in the words of the Nicene Creed, "proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified..."
It is actually the Athanasian Creed, not the Nicene Creed or the Apostles' Creed, which most aggressively affirms the nature of the Trinity. We never say the Athanasian Creed in church, but yet it can be found in the 1979 Prayer Book on page 864 in the historical documents section. Here is the portion pertaining to the nature of the Trinity:
And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.
The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.
The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal.
And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal. As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be both God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion, to say, There be three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other; none is greater, or less than another; but the whole three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
If you struggle with this doctrine, you're not alone: it took the Church several centuries to clarify its teaching on the nature of the Trinity. These sermons may be of help also:
The Athanasian Creed (2010) by Fr Mead
Love is All You Need (2009) by Fr Mead
The Strong Name of the Trinity (2008) by Fr Mead
The Trinity: The God of Jesus (2007) by Fr Mead
The Trinity is Our Story (2005) by Fr Austin
Three Persons in One God (2003) by Fr Mead
The Holy Trinity (2002) by Fr Mead
Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity: We beseech thee that thou wouldest keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see thee in thy one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Sunday, June 23, 2019CORPUS CHRISTI
Corpus Christi is Latin for "the body of Christ." In a sense, therefore, every Eucharist is a commemoration of the feast of Corpus Christi and, at Saint Thomas, we have nearly one thousand celebrations of the Eucharist each year. But on this particular Sunday we take the time to contemplate the holy mysteries in depth, to dig deep in heart and mind as we attempt to understand what it is we are doing when we go to the altar rail to receive the Blessed Sacrament.
Of course, during Holy Week, on Maundy Thursday, we commemorate the institution of the Eucharist by our Lord. Yet, because Holy Week is full of so much activity surrounding our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, it is appropriate that we set aside a time later in the year to return to ponder this most intimate and yet ubiquitous of sacraments. The feast day itself actually falls on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday. However at Saint Thomas we celebrate it on the Sunday following Trinity Sunday so that the maximum number of people can participate.
It is not by accident that this day falls after Easter Day, Ascension Day, the Day of Pentecost and Trinity Sunday. The risen Lord has ascended into heaven. He has sent his Spirit, and this same Spirit consecrates the bread and wine that is received by the gathered Christian community. As Saint Augustine is reported to have said at the presentation of these Eucharistic elements, "Behold what you are, and become what you receive: the Body of Christ."
God our Father, whose Son our Lord Jesus Christ in a wonderful Sacrament hath left unto us a memorial of his passion: Grant us so to venerate the sacred mysteries of his Body and Blood, that we may ever perceive within ourselves the fruit of his redemption; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Sunday, June 30, 2019SAINT PETER AND SAINT PAUL
Early on in the church year, Peter and Paul, the two greatest leaders of the early Church, are commemorated separately-- Peter on January 18, for his confession of Jesus as the Messiah, and Paul on January 25, for his conversion. They are commemorated together on June 29 in observance of the tradition of the Church that they both died as martyrs in Rome during the persecution under Nero, on this date in 64. In 2015, we are celebrating this feast day no only on June 29, but also on Sunday, June 28.
You might find these sermons in the archive helpful:
Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified thee by their martyrdom: Grant that thy Church, instructed by their teaching and example, and knit together in unity by thy Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, which is Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.