Category : Church History

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint George

Almighty God, who didst commission thy holy martyr George to bear before the rulers of this world the banner of the cross: Strengthen us in our battles against the great serpent of sin and evil, that we too may attain the crown of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, England / UK, Spirituality/Prayer

Martin Luther for Easter–A Sermon on the Fruit and Power of Christ’s Resurrection

Christ himself pointed out the benefit of his sufferings and resurrection when he said to the women in Mt 28, 10 – “Fear not: go tell my brethren that they depart into Galilee, and there shall they see me.” These are the very first words they heard from Christ after his resurrection from the dead, by which he confirmed all the former utterances and loving deeds he showed them, namely, that his resurrection avails in our behalf who believe, so that he therefore anticipates and calls Christians his brethren, who believe it, and yet they do not, like the apostles, witness his resurrection.

The risen Christ waits not until we ask or call on him to become his brethren. Do we here speak of merit, by which we deserve anything? What did the apostles merit? Peter denied his Lord three times; the other disciples all fled from him; they tarried with him like a rabbit does with its young. He should have called them deserters, yea, betrayers, reprobates, anything but brethren. Therefore this word is sent to them through the women out of pure grace and mercy, as the apostles at the time keenly experienced, and we experience also, when we are mired fast in our sins, temptations and condemnation.

These are words full of all comfort that Christ receives desperate villains as you and I are and calls us his brethren. Is Christ really our brother, then I would like to know what we can be in need of? Just as it is among natural brothers, so is it also here. Brothers according to the flesh enjoy the same possessions, have the same father, the one inheritance, otherwise they would not be brothers: so we enjoy with Christ the same possessions, and have in common with him one Father and one inheritance, which never decreases by being distributed, as other inheritances do; but it ever grows larger and larger; for it is a spiritual inheritance. But an earthly inheritance decreases when distributed among many persons. He who has a part of this spiritual inheritance, has it all.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Easter, Preaching / Homiletics

(GC) Ashley Null–5 Reasons Reformation Anglicanism Is Relevant

For those in the 21st century searching for meaning and purpose in life, Reformation Anglicanism’s commitment to the timeless wisdom of apostolic teaching gives them a solid rock on which to stand.

For those searching for a sense of historical continuity, Reformation Anglicanism offers a community close ties to the ancient church as expressed in its faithfulness to Scripture, the Creeds, and the first four Councils.

For those who make the needs of others a top priority, Reformation Anglicanism’s focus on mission encourages what God has already put on their hearts.

For those looking to be sustained by inspiring, systematic, Scripture-shaped worship, Reformation Anglicanism’s liturgical heritage offers perhaps the best model for proclaiming the gospel of grace and gratitude with ancient beauty and contemporary sensitivity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Church History, Pastoral Theology, Soteriology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

A (Very Famous) ancient homily on Holy Saturday–“there is a great silence on earth today”

Something strange is happening-there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

“He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: ”˜My Lord be with you all.’ Christ answered him: ”˜And with your spirit.’ He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: ”˜Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’

“I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

“For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

“See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

“I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

“Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.”

–From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

Posted in Church History, Eschatology, Holy Week, Preaching / Homiletics

For I the Lord have slain

In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopp’d my wild career:
I saw One hanging on a Tree
In agonies and blood,
Who fix’d His languid eyes on me.
As near His Cross I stood.

Sure never till my latest breath,
Can I forget that look:
It seem’d to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke:
My conscience felt and own’d the guilt,
And plunged me in despair:
I saw my sins His Blood had spilt,
And help’d to nail Him there.
Alas! I knew not what I did!
But now my tears are vain:
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain!

A second look He gave, which said,
“I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid;
I die that thou may’st live.”

Thus, while His death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too.
With pleasing grief, and mournful joy,
My spirit now if fill’d,
That I should such a life destroy,
Yet live by Him I kill’d!

–John Newton (1725-1807)

Posted in Christology, Church History, Holy Week, Poetry & Literature

Laura Varnum–‘Abide, Ye Who Pass By’: A Poem for Good Friday

Behold my head, my hands, and my feet, and fully feel now, before you leave, if there is any mourning that is equal or mischief that can be measured unto mine…

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in Christology, Church History, Holy Week

“The resolute affirmation of the cross…as the mysterious key to the meaning of life, God, the world, and human destiny”

But over against this downplaying or mocking [of the cross by those who wanted to think of themselves as Christians] we also see, from the earliest documents of the New Testament right on through the first five or six centuries of church history, the resolute affirmation of the cross not as an embarrassing episode best left on the margins, but as the mysterious key to the meaning of life, God, the world, and human destiny. One of the great Christian writers of the mid-second century, Justin Martyr, wrote glowingly about the way in which the cross is the key to everything. It is the central feature of the world, he said: if you want to sail a ship, the mast will be in the shape of a cross; if you want to dig a ditch, your spade will need a cross-shaped handle. This gives us a fair indication of the way in which even those who were trying to explain the Christian faith attractively to outsiders didn’t shy away from the cross, but rather celebrated it.

–N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began (New York: HarperOne, 2016), p.21 (emphasis mine)

Posted in Christology, Church History, Holy Week

Eleanor Parker–‘My folk, what have I done to thee?’ A medieval English version of the Good Friday Reproaches

My folk, what have I done to thee?
Or in what thing angered thee?
Speak now, and answer me.

For from Egypt I led thee;
Thou leadest me to rood-tree.
My folk, what have I done to thee?
Or in what thing angered thee?
Speak now, and answer me.

Through the wilderness I led thee,
And forty years I cared for thee,
And angels’ bread I gave to thee,
And into rest I brought thee.
My folk, what have I done to thee?
Or in what thing angered thee?
Speak now, and answer me.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Holy Week

A Nice Maundy Thursday Healing Miracle Story

Posted in Church History, Holy Week

(CEN) Chris Sugden reviews the new book “Reformation Anglicanism – a Vision for Today’s Global Communion”

[Michael] Nazir Ali traces the development and nature of the Anglican Communion, a reprint of his Latimer Booklet of 2013 “How the Anglican Communion began and where it is going”. through ‘movements of people responding to the call of God on their lives”. Its renewal will come “ not through the reform of structures or through institutional means but through movements raised up by God” for planting churches, renewal in worship, campaigners for the poor and persecuted. ( p 43)

[Benjamin] Kwashi expounds the transforming power of the gospel as we seek the kingdom of God, rather than our own power and status, by relying not on our own natural power, but on God working through us by the Spirit.

The relation of scripture, reason and tradition is more accurately described not as a three legged stool, but to see “ Scripture as a garden bed in which reason and tradition are tools used to tend the soil, unlock its nutrients and bring forth the beauty within it.” ([Ashley] Null p. 86). The whole thrust of Anglican liturgy was to teach people the scriptures. The Church of England would only succeed, Cranmer held, if the English people regularly sat under the transforming power of Scripture and its message expressed in Morning and Evening Prayer and the Holy Communion. (198) The chief responsibility of Bishops is to “proclaim and defend the apostolic faith as taught by the Scriptures” (195) since Christian fellowship can only be based on a common understanding of saving faith (196). They show their authentic apostolic succession by what they teach and what they reject.

Read it all.

Posted in * Theology, Anglican Identity, Books, Church History

Christian Education: An Address in 1831 by William Augustus Muhlenberg for his Feast Day

Whether a lesson be mastered in obedience to conscience, or from a dread of punishment, from filial affection, or determination to beat a rival, is a question of little moment, I grant, in reference to the stock of knowledge acquired, but of incalculable consequence when asked in reference to the bearing upon moral character. The zeal to make scholars, should, in the minds of Christians at least, be tempered by the knowledge that it may repress a zeal for better things. The head should not be furnished at the expense of the heart. Surely, at most, it is exchanging fine gold for silver, when the culture of gracious affections and holy principle is neglected for any attainments of intellect, however brilliant or varied. What Christian parent, would wish his son to be a linguist or a mathematician, of the richest acquirements or the deepest science, if he must become so by a process, in which the improvement of his religious capabilities would be surrendered, or his mind accustomed to motives not recognised in the pure and self-denying discipline of the Gospel. Not that such discipline is unfriendly to intellectual superiority; on the contrary, the incentives to attain it, will be enduring, and consequently efficient, in proportion to their purity. The highest allurements to the cultivation of our rational nature, are peculiar to Christianity. Hence, literature and science have won their highest honors in the productions of minds most deeply imbued with its spirit. The effect, however, of exclusively Christian discipline in a seminary of learning, when fairly stated, is not so much to produce one or two prodigies, as to increase the average quantum of industry; to raise the standard of proficiency among the many of moderate abilities, rather than to multiply the opportunities of distinction for the gifted few.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Education

A Prayer for the Feast Day of William Augustus Muhlenberg and Anne Ayers

God of justice and truth, let not thy Church close its eyes to the plight of the poor and neglected, the homeless and destitute, the old and the sick, the lonely and those who have none to care for them. Give us that vision and compassion with which thou didst so richly endow William Augustus Muhlenberg and Anne Ayers, that we may labor tirelessly to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy; through Jesus Christ, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Tikhon

Holy God, holy and mighty, who hast called us together into one communion and fellowship: Open our eyes, we pray thee, as you opened the eyes of thy servant Tikhon, that we may see the faithfulness of others as we strive to be steadfast in the faith delivered unto us, that the world may see and know Thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit, be glory and praise unto ages of ages. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

I Really Enjoyed Seeing Chester Cathedral this Morning

Posted in Architecture, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Travel

A Prayer for the Feast day of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Almighty God, who by the hand of Moses thy servant didst lead thy people out of slavery, and didst make them free at last: Grant that thy Church, following the example of thy prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of thy love, and may strive to secure for all thy children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Race/Race Relations, Spirituality/Prayer