Daily Archives: December 27, 2014

Charles Simeon for Christmas 2014–The Joy of the Magi

Read it all beginning here on page 7.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Christology, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

John Chrysostom In Perhaps the First Christmas Sermon Ever

I behold a new and wondrous mystery! My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn.

The Angels sing!

The Archangels blend their voices in harmony!

The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise!

The Seraphim exalt His glory!
All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.

Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side the Sun of Justice.

And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed, he had the power, He descended, He redeemed; all things move in obedience to God.

This day He Who Is, is Born; and He Who Is becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became he God from man; but being the Word He became flesh, His nature, because of impassibility, remaining unchanged.

And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor Archangels, nor Thrones, nor Dominations, nor Powers, nor Principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.

Yet He has not forsaken His angels, nor left them deprived of His care, nor because of His Incarnation has he departed from the Godhead.

And behold,

Kings have come, that they might adore the heavenly King of glory;
Soldiers, that they might serve the Leader of the Hosts of Heaven;
Women, that they might adore Him Who was born of a woman so that He might change the pains of child-birth into joy;
Virgins, to the Son of the Virgin, beholding with joy, that He Who is the Giver of milk, Who has decreed that the fountains of the breast pour forth in ready streams, receives from a Virgin Mother the food of infancy;
Infants, that they may adore Him Who became a little child, so that out of the mouth of infants and sucklings, He might perfect praise;
Children, to the Child Who raised up martyrs through the rage of Herod;
Men, to Him Who became man, that He might heal the miseries of His servants;
Shepherds, to the Good Shepherd Who has laid down His life for His sheep;
Priests, to Him Who has become a High Priest according to the order of Melchisedech;
Servants, to Him Who took upon Himself the form of a servant that He might bless our servitude with the reward of freedom;
Fishermen, to Him Who from amongst fishermen chose catchers of men;
Publicans, to Him Who from amongst them named a chosen Evangelist;
Sinful women, to Him Who exposed His feet to the tears of the repentant;

And that I may embrace them all together, all sinners have come, that they may look upon the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of the world.

Since therefore all rejoice, I too desire to rejoice. I too wish to share the choral dance, to celebrate the festival. But I take my part, not plucking the harp, not shaking the Thyrsian staff, not with the music of pipes, nor holding a torch, but holding in my arms the cradle of Christ.

For this is all my hope, this my life, this my salvation, this my pipe, my harp. And bearing it I come, and having from its power received the gift of speech, I too, with the angels, sing:

Glory to God in the Highest; and with the shepherds:
and on earth peace to men of good will

–From Antioch in 386 A.D.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Christology, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched

Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity join’d with power:
He is able, he is able, he is able;
He is willing; doubt no more.

Ho! ye needy, come and welcome;
God’s free bounty glorify:
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh,
Without money, without money,
without money,
Come to Jesus Christ and buy!
Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Bruis’d and mangled by the Fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all:
Not the righteous, not the righteous,
not the righteous;
Sinners, Jesus came to call.

View Him prostrate in the garden,
Lo! your Maker prostrate lies!
On the bloody tree behold Him,
Hear Him cry before He dies,
It is finished! It is finished! It is finished!
Sinner, will not this suffice?

Lo! the incarnate God, ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood;
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude:
None but Jesus, none but Jesus,
none but Jesus,
Can do helpless sinners good.

”“Joseph Hart (1712-1768)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Poetry & Literature

W.H. Auden's Christmas Oratorio

The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week —
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted — quite unsuccessfully —
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.

The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, History, Poetry & Literature

CH Spurgeon for Christmas 2014–'we cannot fear to approach a manger'

in thus being laid in a manger, he did, as it were, give an invitation to the most humble to come to him. We might tremble to approach a throne, but we cannot fear to approach a manger. Had we seen the Master at first riding in state through the streets of Jerusalem with garments laid in the way, and the palm-branches strewed, and the people crying, “Hosanna!” we might have thought, though even the thought would have been wrong, that he was not approachable. Even there, riding upon a colt the foal of an ass, he was so meek and lowly, that the young children clustered about him with their boyish “Hosanna!” Never could there be a being more approachable than Christ. No rough guards pushed poor petitioners away; no array of officious friends were allowed to keep off the importunate widow or the man who clamored that his son might be made whole; the hem of his garment was always trailing where sick folk could reach it, and he himself had a hand always ready to touch the disease, an ear to catch the faintest accents of misery, a soul going forth everywhere in rays of mercy, even as the light of the sun streams on every side beyond that orb itself. By being laid in a manger he proved himself a priest taken from among men, one who has suffered like his brethren, and therefore can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. Of him it was said “He doth eat and drink with publicans and sinners;” “this man receiveth sinners and eateth with them.” Even as an infant, by being laid in a manger, he was set forth as the sinner’s friend. Come to him, ye that are weary and heavy-laden! Come to him, ye that are broken in spirit, ye who are bowed down in soul! Come to him, ye that despise yourselves and are despised of others! Come to him, publican and harlot! Come to him, thief and drunkard! In the manger there he lies, unguarded from your touch and unshielded from your gaze. Bow the knee, and kiss the Son of God; accept him as your Savior, for he puts himself into that manger that you may approach him. The throne of Solomon might awe you, but the manger of the Son of David must invite you.

…Methinks there was yet another mystery. You remember, brethren, that this place was free to all…

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Adult Education, Christmas, Christology, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Sydney Archbp' Christmas message for 2014: ”˜We experienced the pain of loss and frailty of life’

“In Australia, 2014 has not brought us the turmoil of a world war but we still saw many signs of our broken world, with the strains of discord, hatred and fear. We experienced the pain of loss and the frailty of life, especially young life, which hit us hard….”

“Even in the cradle of Christianity, we heard of persecution, destruction and the seeming triumph of evil.” he said.

The Archbishop referred to our crying out in prayer, amid grief and pain.

“At times like this we rush to prayer and we expect God will be listening. Our turning to God in prayer is only possible because of God’s own ‘Christmas truce’.” Dr Davies said.

Read it all and follow the link to watch or read the whole piece.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Religion & Culture, Violence

Pope Francis' Urbi et Urbi Message for Christmas 2014

May Jesus save the vast numbers of children who are victims of violence, made objects of trade and trafficking, or forced to become soldiers; children, so many abused children. May he give comfort to the families of the children killed in Pakistan last week. May he be close to all who suffer from illness, especially the victims of the Ebola epidemic, above all in Liberia, in Sierra Leone and in Guinea. As I thank all who are courageously dedicated to assisting the sick and their family members, I once more make an urgent appeal that the necessary assistance and treatment be provided.

The Child Jesus. My thoughts turn to all those children today who are killed and ill-treated, be they infants killed in the womb, deprived of that generous love of their parents and then buried in the egoism of a culture that does not love life; be they children displaced due to war and persecution, abused and taken advantage of before our very eyes and our complicit silence. I think also of those infants massacred in bomb attacks, also those where the Son of God was born. Even today, their impotent silence cries out under the sword of so many Herods. On their blood stands the shadow of contemporary Herods. Truly there are so many tears this Christmas, together with the tears of the Infant Jesus.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the Holy Spirit today enlighten our hearts, that we may recognize in the Infant Jesus, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, the salvation given by God to each one of us, to each man and woman and to all the peoples of the earth. May the power of Christ, which brings freedom and service, be felt in so many hearts afflicted by war, persecution and slavery.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic

Salus Mundi

I saw a stable, low and very bare,
A little child in a manger.
The oxen knew him, had Him in their care,
To men He was a stranger.
The safety of the world was lying there,
And the world’s danger.

–Mary Coleridge (1861-1907)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Poetry & Literature

Alister McGrath: Shadowlands–Christmas in the Cave

It’s always nice to learn something new. I was talking to some Lebanese students in London recently. They were looking forward to returning home for Christmas, and celebrating this great feast in traditional Lebanese style. In the West, we think of Christ lying in a manger in a stable. In Lebanon, I was told, Christians depict the nativity as taking place in a cave. The reasons for this are lost in the mists of time. Yet the image of Jesus being born in a cave is rich and suggestive.

As we reflect on what Christmas means for billions of Christians across the world, this image can help us unlock some of its themes, and help us understand why it is seen as being so significant….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Christmas, Christology, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lebanon, Middle East, Theology

The Plain Meaning of the Word Becoming Flesh

The plain meaning therefore is, that the Speech begotten by God before all ages, and who always dwelt with the Father, was made man. On this article there are two things chiefly to be observed. The first is, that two natures were so united in one Person in Christ, that one and the same Christ is true God and true man. The second is, that the unity of person does not hinder the two natures from remaining distinct, so that his Divinity retains all that is peculiar to itself, and his humanity holds separately whatever belongs to it. And, therefore, as Satan has made a variety of foolish attempts to overturn sound doctrine by heretics, he has always brought forward one or another of these two errors; either that he was the Son of God and the Son of man in so confused a manner, that neither his Divinity remained entire, nor did he wear the true nature of man; or that he was clothed with flesh, so as to be as it were double, and to have two separate persons.

–John Calvin (1509-1564)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Christology, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint John

Merciful Lord, we beseech thee to cast thy bright beams of light upon thy Church, that we, being illumined by the teaching of thine apostle and evangelist John, may so walk in the light of thy truth, that we may at length attain to the fullness of life everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to begin the Day from Thomas Ken

Glory be to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men; for unto us is born in this season a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. We praise thee, we bless thee, we glorify thee, we give thanks to thee, for this greatest of thy mercies, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father almighty.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are round about him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him, and burns up his adversaries round about. His lightnings lighten the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory.

–Psalm 97:1-6

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Lent and Beyond: Prayer for Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s healing

Just noticed on the BBC news page that Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has pneumonia.

Please pray for him and his family today:

Heavenly Father, giver of life and health: Comfort and relieve Archbishop Justin, and give your power of healing to those who minister to his needs, that Justin may be strengthened in his weakness and have confidence in your loving care; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Please pray it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

The Bishop of London's Christmas Message for 2014

Any religion, however, which has imperial rather than charitable ambitions is very dangerous. The global city of London plays host to refugee communities from parts of the world devastated by violence, inflicted under the cloak of religion. All religions are exposed to the temptation denounced by the prophets as “idolatry” – making a god in our own image. Idolatry is the process by which a bruised and humiliated ego surreptitiously reascends to worship some projection of its own rage and lust for power.

The nativity plays taking place in so many of our church schools tell a different story of how God so loved the world that he was generous and gave himself to us in a vulnerable child. That child points the way to a generosity of spirit which, thank God, I see all around us as the year comes to its end.

One of the most cheering carol services I shall remember from this year was to support the London Air Ambulance. This independent charity, which has to raise two thirds of its funding from donations, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Over the years the air ambulance team has brought skill and hope to 31,000 critically injured patients within the M25.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Christmas, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops