Category : Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

A Prayer for Holy Cross Day

O God, who by the passion of thy blessed Son didst make an instrument of shameful death to be unto us the means of life and peace: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Nativity of John the Baptist

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.

Posted in Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Father in heaven, by whose grace the virgin mother of thine incarnate Son was blessed in bearing him, but still more blessed in keeping thy word: Grant us who honor the exaltation of her lowliness to follow the example of her devotion to thy will; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

A Trinity Sunday Doxology

To God the Father, who first loved us, and made us accepted in the Beloved; to God the Son, who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood; to God the Holy Ghost, who sheddeth the love of God abroad in our hearts: to the one true God be all love and all glory for time and for eternity.

–Thomas Ken (1637-1711)

Posted in Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Liturgy, Music, Worship, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

A Prayer to begin the day from the Scottish Prayer Book

Almighty and everlasting God, who in days of old didst cause thy Word to grow mightily and to prevail: We praise and magnify thy holy name for the manifestation of thy presence in this our day, and we beseech thee to pour out thy Spirit upon the Church, that thy way may be known upon earth and thy saving health among all nations; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Pentecost, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to begin the day from the Liturgy of the Catholic Apostolic Church

O Spirit of the living God, who dwellest in us; who art holy, who art good: Come thou, and fill the hearts of thy faithful people, and kindle within them the fire of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Pentecost, Spirituality/Prayer

Ashley Null’s Pentecost Sermon at Saint Andrew, Mount Pleasant this past Sunday

There is both an audio and a video option.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pentecost, Preaching / Homiletics

A Prayer to begin the day from Frank Colquhoun

O Almighty God, who hast fulfilled thy word of promise, and from thy heavenly throne hast poured out upon thy Church the gift of the Holy Spirit: Open our hearts, we pray thee, to receive the fullness of his grace and power; that our lives may be strengthened for the service of thy kingdom, and our souls be conformed more and more to the image of thy Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Posted in Pentecost, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for Pentecost to begin the day from the Gelasian Sacramentary

O God, who in the exaltation of thy Son Jesus Christ dost sanctify thy universal Church: Shed abroad in every race and nation the gift of the Holy Spirit; that the work wrought by his power at the first preaching of the gospel may now be extended throughout the whole world; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Pentecost, Spirituality/Prayer

John Calvin on Pentecost

[At Pentecost Peter] intendeth to prove…that the Church can be repaired by no other means, saving only by the giving of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, forasmuch as they did all hope that the restoring drew near, he accuseth them of sluggishness, because they do not once think upon the way and means thereof. And when the prophet saith, “I will pour out,” it is, without all question, that he meant by this word to note the great abundance of the Spirit….when God will briefly promise salvation to his people, he affirmeth that he will give them his Spirit. Hereupon it followeth that we can obtain no good things until we have the Spirit given us.

–Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles

Posted in Church History, Pentecost, Theology: Scripture

(AJPS) Young-Hoon Lee–Korean Pentecost: The Great Revival Of 1907

Then began a meeting the like of which I had never seen before, nor wish to see again unless in God’s sight it is absolutely necessary. Every sin a human being can commit was publicly confessed that night. Pale and trembling with emotion, in agony of mind and body, guilty souls, standing in the white light of their judgment, saw themselves as God saw them. Their sins rose up in all their vileness, till shame and grief and self-loathing took complete possession; pride was driven out, the face of man forgotten. Looking up to heaven, to Jesus whom they had betrayed, they smote themselves and cried out with bitter wailing: “Lord, Lord, cast us not away forever!” Everything else was forgotten, nothing else mattered. The scorn of men, the penalty of the law, even death itself seemed of small consequences if only God forgave. We may have other theories of desirability or undesirability of public confession of sin. I have had mine; but I know now that when the Spirit of God falls upon guilty souls, there will be confession, and no power on earth can stop it.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Korea, Pentecost

Archbp Benjamin Kwashi’s 2021 Pentecost Sermon at Church of the Holy Spirit in Roanoke, Virginia

Posted in Church of Nigeria, Pentecost, Preaching / Homiletics

John Stott on the Spirit-Filled Christian for Pentecost

Our attitude to our fallen nature should be one of ruthless repudiation. For ‘those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires’ (Gal. 5:24). That is, we have taken this evil, slimy, slippery thing called ‘the flesh’ and nailed it to the cross. This was our initial repentance. Crucifixion is dramatic imagery for our uncompromising rejection of all known evil. Crucifixion does not lead to a quick or easy death; it is an execution of lingering pain. Yet it is decisive; there is no possibility of escaping from it.

Our attitude to the Holy Spirit, on the other hand, is to be one of unconditional surrender. Paul uses several expressions for this. We are to ‘live by the Spirit’ (Gal. 5:16, 18. 25). That is, we are to allow him his rightful sovereignty over us, and follow his righteous promptings.

Thus both our repudiation of the flesh and our surrender to the Spirit need to be repeated daily, however decisive our original repudiation and surrender may have been. In Jesus’ words, we are to ‘take up (our) cross daily’ and follow him (Lk 9:23). We are also to go on being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), as we open our personality to him daily. Both our repudiation and our surrender are also to be worked out in disciplined habits of life. It is those who ‘sow to the Spirit’ (Gal. 6:8) who reap the fruit of the Spirit. And to ‘sow to the Spirit’ means to cultivate the things of the Spirit, for example, by our wise use of the Lord’s Day, the discipline of our daily prayer and Bible reading, our regular worship and attendance at the Lord’s Supper, our Christian friendships and our involvement in Christian service. An inflexible principle of all God’s dealings, both in the material and in the moral realm, is that we reap what we sow. The rule is invariable. It cannot be changed, for ‘God cannot be mocked’ (Gal. 6:7). We must not therefore be surprised if we do not reap the fruit of the Spirit when all the time we are sowing to the flesh. Did we think we could cheat or fool God?

Authentic Christianity (Nottingham, IVP, 1995)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Pentecost, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for Pentecost

O Holy Spirit of God, who didst descend upon our Lord Christ at the river Jordan, and upon the disciples at the feast of Pentecost: Have mercy upon us, we beseech thee, and by thy divine fire enlighten our minds and purify our hearts; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Saint Nerses of Clajes (4th century Persian Bishop and Martyr)

Posted in Pentecost, Spirituality/Prayer

Paul Zahl–How Mary And I Spent Holy Week, 1973

Two days later I was pinned against the wall by the soullessness of Harvard Divinity School. Alone, I attended a sunrise Easter service on the roof of Divinity Hall. Krister Stendahl, who was then Dean, preached and conducted the service. He told us that the only trustworthy Resurrection text in the Bible was St. Mark 16:8c: “… and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid.” Let me repeat that: the famous New Testament scholar Krister Stendahl, one of the founders of the “New Perspective on Paul,” told his congregation on Easter morning 1973 that the Resurrection appearances of Jesus are all “untrustworthy” except Mark 16:8c. And that what Christians need to do and be on Easter morning is be afraid. This really happened.

As if to pour salt in the wound, the rector of Our Saviour, Arlington, said something comparable during the main service there later that Easter morning. (Mary was wearing a black-and-white dress and looked stunning.)

The rector said that his Easter sermon was to be his public announcement that he had recently found the meaning of his ministry for the next phase of his rectorship in Arlington. That meaning lay in a popular new form of therapy known as “Transactional Analysis” (i.e., “I’m OK/You’re OK”). The rector was hoping that the congregation would find joy in joining him during the next half of 1973 and also 1974 as together we would enhance our relationships through that system. This really happened.

Even while sitting there, with Mary, I kept thinking of Peggy Lee and her song from 1970 entitled, “Is That All There Is?” I mean, seriously, here were two back-to-back Christian services on Easter Sunday in which “the hungry sheep look up and are not fed” (Lycidas).

Well, that is how Mary and I spent Holy Week 1973. Thumbs up for Piero Paolo Pasolini; thumbs down for Dean Stendahl, Professor Cox, and the rector of Our Saviour.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Eschatology, Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship, TEC Parishes, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Day from the Leonine Sacramentary

Almighty and merciful God, into whose gracious presence we ascend, not by the frailty of the flesh but by the activity of the soul: Make us ever by thy inspiration to seek after the courts of the heavenly city, whither our Saviour Christ hath ascended, and by thy mercy confidently to enter them, both now and hereafter; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

N.T. Wright on the Ascension and Second Coming of Jesus

Additionally, early Christians were not, as is commonly assumed, bound to a three-tier vision of the universe, i.e., heaven, hell, and earth.

[W]hen the Bible speaks of heaven and earth it is not talking about two localities related to each other within the same space-time continuum or about a nonphysical world contrasted with a physical one but about two different kinds of what we call space, two different kinds of what we call matter, and also quite possibly (though this does not necessarily follow from the other two) two different kinds of what we call time.

So heaven and earth, understood in this way, are two dimensions of the same reality. They “interlock and intersect in a whole variety of ways even while they retain, for the moment at least, their separate identities and roles.” Combine this with the doctrine of the ascension and we do not have a Jesus who floats up into a heaven “up there” but disappears into a reality we cannot yet see. Because heaven and earth are not yet joined Jesus is physically absent from us. At the same time he is present with us through the Holy Spirit and the sacraments, linkages where the two realities meet in the present age.

Read it all.

Posted in Ascension, Christology, Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Douglas Farrow on the Meaning of the Ascension for Ascension Day

Ascension theology turns at this point to the Eucharist, for in celebrating the eucharist the church professes to know how the divine presents itself in our time, and how the question of faithfulness is posed. Eucharistically, the church acknowledges that Jesus has heard and has answered the upward call; that, like Moses, he has ascended into that impenetrable cloud overhanging the mountain. Down below, rumours of glory emanate from the elders, but the master himself is nowhere to be seen. He is no longer with his people in the same way he used to be. Yet he is with them, in the Spirit.

–Douglas Farrow, Ascension Theology (New York: T and T Clark, 2011), p. 64

Posted in Ascension, Theology

Christ the Bird and the Play of Hope: An Anglo-Saxon Poem for the Feast of the Ascension

One thing this poem does have in common with the ‘Advent lyrics’ of Christ I is that it’s an extraordinarily sophisticated theological meditation on its Biblical theme, rendered in the traditional language of Anglo-Saxon poetry but drawing on learned interpretations of the subject by the Church Fathers. The poem begins by describing the delight of the angels at Christ’s return to heaven, contrasting their joy with the grief of the disciples at parting from Christ, and giving his words of comfort to his followers:…

“Rejoice in your hearts! I will never leave you;
I will always remain with you in love,
and give you strength and dwell with you
for ever and ever, so that through my grace
you will never want for anything good…
I will dwell with you
from henceforth as a comforter, and keep you in peace,
a steadfast strength in every place.”

Read it all.

Posted in Ascension, Church History, Poetry & Literature

John Calvin on the Ascension (Acts 1:9)

The readers may learn out of our Institutions what profit we reap by the ascension of Christ. Notwithstanding, because it is one of the chiefest points of our faith, therefore doth Luke endeavor more diligently to prove the same; yea, rather, the Lord himself meant to put the same out of all doubt, when as he hath ascended so manifestly, and hath confirmed the certainty of the same by other circumstances. For, if so be it he had vanished away secretly, then might the disciples have doubted what was become of him; but now, sith that they, being in so plain a place, saw him taken up with whom they had been conversant, whom also they heard speak even now, whom they beheld with their eyes, whom also they see taken out of their sight by a cloud, there is no cause why they should doubt whither he was gone. Furthermore, the angels are there also to bear witness of the same. And it was needful that the history should have been set down so diligently for our cause, that we may know assuredly, that although the Son of God appear nowhere upon earth, yet doth he live in the heavens. And this seemeth to be the reason why the cloud did overshadow him, before such time as he did enter into his celestial glory; that his disciples being content with their measure might cease to inquire any further. And we are taught by them that our mind is not able to ascend so high as to take a full view of the glory of Christ; therefore, let this cloud be a mean to restrain our boldness, as was the smoke which was continually before the door of the tabernacle in the time of the law.

–Commentary on Acts

Posted in Ascension, Church History, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast of the Ascension from the Church of England

Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that as we believe your only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ
to have ascended into the heavens,
so we in heart and mind may also ascend
and with him continually dwell;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Posted in Ascension, Church of England (CoE), Spirituality/Prayer

John Stott on the Ascension for Ascension Day

The remedy for unprofitable spiritual stargazing lies in a Christian theology of history, an understanding of the order of events in the divine programme. First, Jesus returned to heaven (Ascension). Secondly, the Holy Spirit came (Pentecost). Thirdly, the church goes out to witness (Mission). Fourthly, Jesus will come back (Parousia). Whenever we forget one of these events, or put them in the wrong sequence, confusion reigns. We need especially to remember that between the ascension and the Parousia, the disappearance and the reappearance of Jesus, there stretches a period of unknown length which is to be filled with the church’s world-wide, Spirit-empowered witness to him. We need to hear the implied message of the angels: ‘You have seen him go. You will see him come. But between that going and coming there must be another. The Spirit must come, and you must go—into the world for Christ.’

–John R W Stott, The Message of Acts:To the ends of the earth (Downers Grove, Il.: InterVarsity Academic, 1990), p.23

Posted in Ascension, Missions, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast of the Ascension from the Scottish Prayer Book

Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Saviour Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens, that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that according to his promise he abideth with his Church on earth, even unto the end of the world; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Ascension, Spirituality/Prayer

Albert Mohler–The Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Reality of the Gospel

As the disciples preached in the earliest Christian sermons, “This Jesus God has raised up, of whom we are all witnesses . . . . Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” [Acts 2:32,36].

The Resurrection was not a dawning awareness of Christ’s continuing presence among the disciples, it was the literal, physical raising of Jesus’ body from the dead. The Church is founded upon the resurrected Lord, who appeared among His disciples and was seen by hundreds of others.

The Church does not have mere permission to celebrate the Resurrection, it has a mandate to proclaim the truth that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. The resurrected Lord gave the Church a sacred commission to take the gospel throughout the world. As Paul made clear, the resurrection of Christ also comes as a comfort to the believer, for His defeat of death is a foretaste and promise of our own resurrection by His power. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” [1 Corinthians 15:53].

So, as the Church gathers to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we should look backward in thankfulness to that empty tomb and forward to the fulfillment of Christ’s promises in us. For Resurrection Day is not merely a celebration”“it is truly preparation as well. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the promise of our resurrection from the dead, and of Christ’s total victory over sin and death. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is at the very center of the Christian gospel. The empty tomb is full of power.

Read it all.

Posted in Easter, Eschatology, Theology: Scripture

More Music for Easter 2021–Christus resurgens – William Byrd, John Rutter, The Cambridge Singers

Listen to it all.

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Kendall Harmon for Easter–Cry Freedom

How shall we understand freedom? Perhaps because I am in a state, South Carolina, where candidates….[not long ago] were running around saying “you are free so vote for me!” this has been much in mind.

There is a lot of sloppy thinking about freedom these days. For too many it only means the ability to choose a candidate or a product. Or it is understood to be the removal of external constraints, as in I need the government out of my—then fill in the blank: my business, my body, and on and on.

Christian thinking about freedom is a totally different animal.

For one thing, in the Scriptures, freedom has an interesting relationship to time. Freedom is something which was present in creation, and which will be fully present again at the end of history when God brings it to its conclusion. But what about the present? The people Jesus spends time with—say, for example, the woman at the well (John 4), or Zaccheus (Luke 19) are not free but constrained, imprisoned, and encased. When Jesus rescues them, freedom begins, but even then it is lived out in the tension between the already of new life in Christ and the not yet of the fullness of the eschaton.

So apart from Christ people who think they are free need to hear the bad news that their perceived freedom is an illusion. One would like to hear more from preachers these days on this score, since they are addressing parishioners who are workaholics or poweraholics or sexaholics and/or addicts to heaven knows what else. Why is it that a group like AA seems to know more about real freedom than so many churches? Because they begin with the premise which says their members are enslaved—that is the first of the twelve steps.

And there is so much more to freedom then even this. In the Bible, real freedom moves in not one or two but three directions.

Freedom from is one piece of the puzzle—freedom from sin, from the demands of the law, from the tyranny of the urgent, from whatever constricts us from being the people God intended us to be.

Equally important, however, is freedom for, freedom for Christ, for service, for God’s justice, for ministry. Paul wonderfully describes himself as a bondservant of Christ Jesus, and the Prayer Book has it right when it says God’s service is “perfect freedom.”

Freedom with should not be missed, however. For Paul in Galatians Christian freedom is not the Christian by herself changed by the gospel. This has too much in common with the individual shopper in Walmart deciding exactly what kind of popcorn or yogurt she wants. No, real freedom is to be liberated to live for Christ with the new pilgrim people of God who reflect back a little of heaven’s light on earth. A real church is one where people enjoy koinonia, fellowship, the richness of God’s life shared into them which they then share out in Christ’s name by the power of the Holy Spirit to the world.

Paul says it wonderfully in Galatians: “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Do not settle for anything less than this real freedom, freedom from bondage, freedom with our fellow pilgrims, and freedom for the God who made the heavens and the earth.


–The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall Harmon is the convenor of this blog

Posted in * By Kendall, Easter, Eschatology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to begin the day from the Church of England

God our redeemer,
you have delivered us from the power of darkness
and brought us into the kingdom of your Son:
grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life,
so by his continual presence in us he may raise us to eternal joy;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Posted in Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

More Music for Easter–Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain

Lyrics:

1 Come, ye faithful, raise the strain
of triumphant gladness;
God hath brought his Israel
into joy from sadness;
loosed from Pharaoh’s bitter yoke
Jacob’s sons and daughters;
led them with unmoistened foot
through the Red Sea waters.

2 ‘Tis the spring of souls today;
Christ hath burst his prison,
and from three days’ sleep in death
as a sun hath risen;
all the winter of our sins,
long and dark, is flying
from his light, to whom we give
laud and praise undying.

3 Now the queen of seasons, bright
with the day of splendor,
with the royal feast of feasts,
comes its joy to render;
comes to glad Jerusalem,
who with true affection
welcomes in unwearied strains
Jesus’ resurrection.

4 Neither might the gates of death,
nor the tomb’s dark portal,
nor the watchers, nor the seal
hold thee as a mortal:
but today amidst thine own
thou didst stand, bestowing
thine own peace, which evermore
passeth human knowing.

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

A Prayer for the Day from the Church of England

Risen Christ,
your wounds declare your love for the world
and the wonder of your risen life:
Through the Holy Spirit give us compassion and courage
to risk ourselves for those we serve,
to the glory of God the Father.
Amen.

Slightly edited–KSH.

Posted in Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

More Music for Easter–John Rutter: Most Glorious Lord of Life

Listen to it all.

Lyrics:

Most glorious Lord of life, that on this day
Didst make thy triumph over death and sin,
And having harrow’d hell, didst bring away
Captivity thence captive, us to win.
This joyous day, dear Lord, with joy begin,
And grant that we may for whom thou diddest die,
Being with thy dear blood clean wash’d from sin,
May live for ever in felicity.
And that thy love we weighing worthily,
May likewise love thee for the same again;
And for Thy sake, that all like dear didst buy,
With love may one another entertain.
So let us love, dear love, like as we ought;
Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.
The day of resurrection! Earth, tell it out abroad;
The Passover of gladness, the Passover of God.
From death to life eternal, from earth unto the sky,
Our Christ hath brought us over, with hymns of victory. Amen.

Posted in Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship