Category Archives: Church History

Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, c. 202

Irenaeus_of_Lyons_202

Today is the Feast Day of Saint Irenaeus! 

There is some doubt as the year of Irenaeus’ birth, with estimates varying from the years 97 to 160. Most authorities settle on a year around 130. Born in Asia Minor, Irenaeus learned the Christian faith from Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, who was himself a disciple of the Apostle John. Irenaeus later studied at Rome and then became a presbyter in the church at Lyons, at the invitation of its first bishop, Pothinus. Lyons, then known as Lugdunum, was a flourishing trade center that soon became the most important of its kind in the West, and the principal see in Gaul. During a sudden persecution which caused the imprisonment of many of the members of the church in Lyons, Irenaeus was sent to Rome to mediate a dispute regarding Montanism, a sect of enthusiasts whose teachings Eleutherus, the bishop of Rome, seemed to embrace. On his return to Lyons around 178, Irenaeus was elected bishop, as Pothinus had been killed during the persecution.

True to his name (which means, “the peaceable one”), he acted as mediator again in a dispute in 190. Victor, the bishop of Rome, had excommunicated the Quartodecimans (the “Fourteenthers”) of Asia Minor, who celebrated Easter on the same day as the Jewish Passover, the fourteenth day of Nisan, instead of on the Sunday following the fourteenth day of Nisan, with all other Christians. Irenaeus urged patience and conciliation, and a result of his intervention, good relations were restored. Some centuries later the Quartodecimans conformed to the practice of the catholic Church of their own accord.

Irenaeus’ enduring significance rests on his writings as a theologian, in particular a large treatise entitled, The Refutation and Overthrow of Gnosis, Falsely So-Called, usually shorted to Against the Heresies. In it, Irenaeus describes the major Gnostic systems of thought, thoroughly, clearly, and often with biting sarcasm. This treatise is one of our chief sources of knowledge about second century Gnosticism. He also makes a case for teaching authority in Christianity that has deeply influenced subsequent thought, resting primarily on Scripture (of which the four Gospels are supreme) and emphasizing the interpretive authority in the continuity between the teaching of the apostles and the teaching of bishops and presbyters in the churches, generation after generation, in a visible and public succession (as opposed to the secret handing on of Gnostic doctrines from teacher to disciples). Against the Gnostics, who despised the material and exalted the spiritual, Irenaeus stressed the doctrines of the goodness of creation and of the resurrection of the body. A quote from Irenaus:

If Jesus did have a special secret teaching, to whom would He entrust it? Clearly, to His disciples, to the Twelve, who were with Him constantly, and to whom he spoke without reservation (Mark 4:34). And was the teaching of the Twelve different from that of Paul? Here the Gnostics, and others since, have tried to drive a wedge between Paul and the original Apostles, but Peter writes of Paul in the highest terms (2 Peter 3:15), as one whose teaching is authentic. Again, we find Paul saying to the elders of the church at Ephesus (Acts 20:27), that he has declared to them the whole counsel of God. Where, then, do we look for Christ’s authentic teaching? In the congregations that were founded by the apostles, who set trustworthy men in charge of them, and charged them to pass on the teaching unchanged to future generations through carefully chosen successors.

In his other major treatise, the Demonstration of Apostle Preaching (which was rediscovered only in 1904), he also sets out the case against Gnosticism. His principal points in this work are a clear reassertion of Christian monotheism, emphasizing the identity of the God of the Old Testament with the God of the New, and the unity of the Father and the Son in the work of revelation and redemption.

Irenaeus died at Lyons about the year 202 and was buried in the crypt of the church of Saint John (now Saint-Irenée). According to a late and uncertain tradition, he suffered martyrdom for the faith.

Taken from The Oxford Dictionary of Saintsand Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980)

The Collect

Almighty God, you upheld your servant Irenaeus with strength to maintain the truth against every blast of vain doctrine: Keep us, we pray, steadfast in your true religion, that in constancy and peace we may walk in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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A mediation from St. Augustine looking towards Holy Week

Man’s maker was made man . . . that the Bread might hunger, the Fountain thirst, the Light sleep, the Way be tired on its journey, that Truth might be accused of false witness, the Teacher be beaten with whips, the Foundation be suspended on wood; that Strength might grow weak; that the Healer might be wounded; that Life might die.

St. Augustine, Sermons 191.1

icon cross Central Plaque of a Cross, ca. 1185–1195

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Merry Christmas! The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Real Twelve Days of Christmas


Holy Family and the Trinity

Celebrating Christ’s birth with saints of the faith during the actual Christmas season.

by Edwin and Jennifer Woodruff Tait

 

Sometime in November, as things now stand, the “Christmas season” begins. The streets are hung with lights, the stores are decorated with red and green, and you can’t turn on the radio without hearing songs about the spirit of the season and the glories of Santa Claus. The excitement builds to a climax on the morning of December 25, and then it stops, abruptly. Christmas is over, the New Year begins, and people go back to their normal lives.

The traditional Christian celebration of Christmas is exactly the opposite. The season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and for nearly a month Christians await the coming of Christ in a spirit of expectation, singing hymns of longing. Then, on December 25, Christmas Day itself ushers in twelve days of celebration, ending only on January 6 with the feast of the Epiphany. Exhortations to follow this calendar rather than the secular one have become routine at this time of year. But often the focus falls on giving Advent its due, with the Twelve Days of Christmas relegated to the words of a cryptic traditional carol. Most people are simply too tired after Christmas Day to do much celebrating.

The “real” twelve days of Christmas are important not just as a way of thumbing our noses at secular ideas of the “Christmas season.” They are important because they give us a way of reflecting on what the Incarnation means in our lives. Christmas commemorates the most momentous event in human history—the entry of God into the world He made, in the form of a baby. The Logos through whom the worlds were made took up His dwelling among us in a tabernacle of flesh. One of the prayers for Christmas Day in the Catholic liturgy encapsulates what Christmas means for all believers: “O God, who marvelously created and yet more marvelously restored the dignity of human nature, grant that we may share the divinity of Him who humbled himself to share our humanity.” In Christ, our human nature was united to God, and when Christ enters our hearts, he brings us into that union.

To read the full article at Christianity Today follow this link: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2004/dec24.html?start=3

Posted 8/08/2008 12:33PM on Christianity Today Blog

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ALL SAINTS’ DAY!

All Saints Icon

O God, the King of saints, we praise and glorify your holy Name for all your servants who have finished their course in your faith and fear: for the blessed Virgin Mary; for the holy patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs; and for all your other righteous servants, known to us and unknown; and we pray that, encouraged by their examples, aided by their prayers, and strengthened by their fellowship, we also may be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

The following post comes from Dr. Todd Granger’s blog. Todd was a member of All Saints Church and now is a member of Holy Trinity Chatham and maintains a blog on the saints. Visit it here

——-

The impulse of Christians to express the communion of the living and the dead in the Body of Christ by a commemoration of those who, having professed faith in the living Christ in former days, had entered into the nearer presence of their Lord, and especially of those who had crowned their witness by giving up their lives for sake of the Gospel of Christ, goes back to the early days of the Christian Church. Gregory Thaumaturgus (the Wonder Worker), writing before the year 270, refers to the observance of a festival of all martyrs, though he does not give a date. A century later, Ephrem the Deacon (†373) notes such an observance in Edessa on the thirteenth of May, and John Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople (†407) writes that a festival of All Saints was observed on the first Sunday after Pentecost in Constantinople at the time of his episcopate, which remains the feast of All Saints in the Orthodox Churches to this day. In the West, a commemoration of All Saints became established with the rededication of the Pantheon at Rome – originally a pagan temple dedicated to “all the gods” – as a Christian church under the name Sancta Maria ad Martyres (Saint Mary and All Martyrs) by Pope Boniface the Fourth on the thirteenth of May in the year 610. In Ireland and England the focus of the day was slightly different. Some manuscripts of the Martyrology of Oengus the Culdee (fl. early ninth century) note a commemoration of All Martyrs on the seventeenth of April and of All Saints of Europe on the twentieth of April. The metrical English calendar (tenth century, probably from Winchester) also includes the latter commemoration. However, from about the year 800 the first of November gained in popularity as a commemoration of All Saints. Alcuin (†804) mentions the date in a letter of that year, and manuscripts of the Martyrology of Bede have it as a marginal addition at about the same time. Arno, bishop of Salzburg (†821), had it adopted by a synod in the year 798.

The date of the first of November is probably based on the dedication of a chapel in Saint Peter’s, Rome, for the relics “of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world” by Pope Gregory the Third (†741). A November commemoration of All Saints was already widespread in Frankish lands during Charlemagne’s reign (†814). Pope Gregory the Fourth, under Gallican influence, ordered the observance of the first of November as a feast of All Saints, and by the early ninth century an English calendar (of Oxford) ranks the day as a principal feast. There were over twelve hundred ancient church dedications to All Saints in England, a number surpassed only by dedications to Saint Mary the Virgin.

All Saints’ Day has been preserved in all editions of the Book of Common Prayer, from 1549 onwards. In the 1979 Prayer Book, All Saints’ Day is classed as a Principal Feast, along with Easter Day, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, Christmas Day, and the Epiphany; and alone of the seven, All Saints’ Day may be observed on the Sunday following, in addition to its observance on its fixed date. It is also recognized as a baptismal feast, being one of the four recommended in the 1979 Prayer Book for the administration of Holy Baptism.

prepared from Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980),
The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, and other sources

The Collect

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

The Lesson
Revelation 7:9-17

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

“Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Psalm 34:1-10, 22
Benedicam Dominum

I will bless the LORD at all times; *
his praise shall ever be in my mouth.

I will glory in the LORD; *
let the humble hear and rejoice.

Proclaim with me the greatness of the LORD; *
let us exalt his Name together.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me *
and delivered me out of all my terror.

Look upon him and be radiant, *
and let not your faces be ashamed.

I called in my affliction and the LORD heard me *
and saved me from all my troubles.

The angel of the LORD encompasses those who fear him, *
and he will deliver them.

Taste and see that the LORD is good; *
happy are they who trust in him!

Fear the LORD, you that are his saints, *
for those who fear him lack nothing.

The young lions lack and suffer hunger, *
but those who seek the LORD lack nothing that is good.

The LORD ransoms the life of his servants, *
and none will be punished who trust in him.

The Epistle
1 John 3:1-3

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

The Gospel
Matthew 5:1-12

Seeing the crowds, [Jesus] went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
___________________________________________________

The Lesson, Epistle, and Gospel are taken from the English Standard Version Bible. The Collect and Psalm are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (1979).

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PASCHAL HOMILY OF ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM

The Paschal sermon of St John Chrysostom is read aloud in every Orthodox parish on the morning of the Great and Holy Pascha of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. According to the Tradition of the Church, no one sits during the reading of St John’s sermon, but all stand and listen with attentiveness.

If any man be devout and loveth God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast! If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord.

If any have laboured long in fasting, let him how receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; Because he shall in nowise be deprived therefore. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. And if any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness.

For the Lord, who is jealous of his honour, will accept the last even as the first. He giveth rest unto him who cometh at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who hath wrought from the first hour.

And He showeth mercy upon the last, and careth for the first; And to the one He giveth, and upon the other He bestoweth gifts. And He both accepteth the deeds, and welcometh the intention, and honoureth the acts and praises the offering.

Wherefore, enter ye all into the joy of your Lord; Receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival! You sober and you heedless, honour the day! Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away. Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness.

Let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal Kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it.

By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions.

It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is thy sting? O Hell, where is thy victory?

Christ is risen, and thou art overthrown! Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen! Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is risen, and life reigns! Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages.
Amen.

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Resources for Exploring the Anglican Tradition

Here is an annotated bibliography for those interested in learning more about the spirituality, beliefs, and history of the Anglican tradition (descriptions are from the publishers). Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, but a place to start in the journey. Please feel free to suggest others in the comments!

Beyond Smells and Bells: The Wonder and Power of Christian Liturgy By. Mark Galli 

Are you attracted to liturgy but don’t know why? Are you considering changing to liturgical tradition? Are you already immersed in liturgical worship but want to grasp its deeper significance? Beyond Smells and Bells addresses the lure and relevance of liturgy for your life today.

Thousands of Christians become interested in liturgy each year for the first time, as they turn to orthodoxy, tradition, and the lasting rituals of the Christian faith. In a culture that values spontaneity, liturgy grounds us in something enduring. In a culture that assumes truth is a product of the mind, liturgy helps us experience truth in mind, body, and spirit. In Mark Galli’s able telling, liturgy is an intriguing story, full of mystery, that transforms us.

The Sacramental Life by David DeSilva 

What happens when old meets new? As David deSilva has experienced the ancient wisdom of the Book of Common Prayer, he’s been formed spiritually in deep and lasting ways. In these pages, he offers you a brand new way to use the Book of Common Prayer, that you too might experience new growth, new intimacy with God and a new lens through which to view the world. Focusing on the four sacramental rites of baptism, Eucharist, marriage and burial, deSilva explores each one in depth through the prayers, liturgies and Scripture readings of the Book of Common Prayer, and then adds his own devotional exercises that help you immediately apply what you’ve reflected on. As you read and contemplate the material, you may notice old habits, wrong beliefs and negative patterns being replaced with new desires and perspectives that help you draw ever closer to God. In this innovative and engaging resource David deSilva invites you in to a new way of being spiritually formed through an old book that has shaped thousands of disciples through the years. “I hope that, as you read and pray through this guide,” he writes, “you will discover afresh the ways in which the rites contained in the Book of Common Prayer facilitate a genuine encounter with God, and a transforming experience of grace.”

The Reformation By. Owen Chadwick   

The beginning of the sixteenth century brought growing pressure within the Western Church for Reformation. The popes could not hold Western Christendom together and there was confusion about Church reform. What some believed to be abuses, others found acceptable. Nevertheless over the years three aims emerged: to reform the exactions of churchmen, to correct errors of doctrines and to improve the moral awareness of society. As a result, Western Europe divided into a Catholic South and Protestant North. Across the no man’s land between them were fought the bitterest wars of religion in Christian history. This third volume of “The Penguin History of the Church” deals with the formative work of Erasmus, Luther, Zwingli and Calvin, and analyses the special circumstances of the English Reformation as well as the Jesuits and the Counter-Reformation.

Glorious Companions: five centuries of Anglican Spirituality by Richard Schmit  

This wonderful compendium of religious biographies offers a look inside the hearts and minds of significant shapers of Anglican spirituality over the past five centuries — Thomas Cranmer, John Donne, George Herbert, John Wesley, Dorothy Sayers, C. S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, and many more.

Covering twenty-nine of the most influential Anglican figures from the sixteenth century to the present, Richard H. Schmidt deftly chronicles their lives and work while capturing at the same time the deep personal faith that they have managed to communicate so powerfully to the rest of the world.

These icons of the Christian faith include not only bishops and scholars but also housewives, poets, novelists, and teachers. Each chapter contains a brief biographical sketch of its subject, a selection of short, representative quotations from his or her writings, and several questions for reflection and discussion.

Written in a personable style that brings readers into direct contact with some of the church’s most admired witnesses, Glorious Companions will be valued both as a collection of insightful biographical information and as a lasting source of inspiration.

Evangelical is Not Enough By. Thomas Howard 

In this deeply moving narrative, Thomas Howard describes his pilgrimage from Evangelicalism (which he loves and reveres as the religion of his youth) to liturgical Christianity. He soon afterward became a Roman Catholic. He describes Evangelicalism with great sympathy and then examines more formal, liturgical worship with the freshness of someone discovering for the first time what his soul had always hungered for. This is a book of apologetics without polemics. Non-Catholics will gain an appreciation of the formal and liturgical side of Catholicism. Catholics will see with fresh eyes the beauty of their tradition. Worship, prayer, the Blessed Virgin, the Mass, and the liturgical year are taken one after the other, and what may have seemed routine and repetitive suddenly comes to life under the enchanting wand of Howard’s beautiful prose. Howard unfolds for us just what occurs in the vision and imagination of a Christian who, nurtured in the earnestness of Protestant Evangelicalism, finds himself yearning for “whatever-it-is” that has been there in the Church for 2000 years. It traces Howard’s soul-searching and shows why he believes the practices of the liturgical Church are an invaluable aid for any Christian’s spiritual life. Reminiscent of the style and scope of Newman, Lewis and Knox, this book is destined to be a classic.

Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God by Bobby Gross  

Infuse your days with meaning. You are part of a larger Story. And the One who began the Story is at work today, in your life, in the midst of your meetings and bills and family activities that make the days rush by and blur together. In these pages Bobby Gross opens to you–and opens you to–the liturgical year, helping you inhabit God’s Story every day.

Remembering God’s work, Christ’s death and resurrection, and the Spirit’s coming will change you, drawing you into deeper intimacy with God and pointing your attention to the work of the Father, Son and Spirit right now, in and around you.

You’ll be reminded daily that your life is bigger than just you, that you are part of God’s huge plan that started before time and will continue into eternity.

Whether you’re familiar or unfamiliar with following the liturgical year, this book makes it easy to do, offering here the significance and history of each season, ideas for living out God’s Story in your own life, and devotions that follow the church calendar for each day of the year. “The power that overshadowed Mary and raised Jesus from the dead also guarantees the final redemption of all things in him; that same power is at work in us now,” Gross writes. “Keeping liturgical time, making it sacred, opens us further to this power as, year after year, we rehearse the Story of God–remembering with gratitude, anticipating with hope–and over time live more deeply the Story of our lives.”

Ancient-Future Faith: Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World by Robert Webber  

In a world marked by relativism, individualism, pluralism, and the transition from a modern to a postmodern worldview, evangelical Christians must find ways to re-present the historic faith.

In his provocative new work, Ancient-Future Faith, Robert E. Webber contends that present-day evangelicalism is a product of modernity. Allegiance to modernity, he argues, must be relinquished to free evangelicals to become more consistently historic. Empowerment to function in our changing culture will be found by adapting the classical tradition to our postmodern time. Webber demonstrates the implications in the key areas of church, worship, spirituality, evangelism, nurture, and mission.

Webber writes, “The fundamental concern of Ancient-Future Faithis to find points of contact between classical Christianity and postmodern thought. Classical Christianity was shaped in a pagan and relativistic society much like our own. Classical Christianity was not an accommodation to paganism but an alternative practice of life. Christians in a postmodern world will succeed, not by watering down the faith, but by being a counter cultural community that invites people to be shaped by the story of Israel and Jesus.”

A substantial appendix explores the development of authority in the early church, an important issue for evangelicals in a society that shares many features with the Roman world of early Christians. Students, professors, pastors, and laypeople concerned with the church’s effective response to a postmodern world will benefit from this paradigmatic volume. Informative tables and extensive bibliographies enhance the book’s educational value.

Never Silent By Thaddeus Barnum 

Thaddeus Barnum deftly and honestly recounts firsthand the remarkable events and intrigue surrounding the Anglican-Episcopal crisis over the blatant denial of Scripture and the ordination of openly gay ministers. But while this is a story that continues to capture international media attention, as Rwandan bishop John Rucyahana insists, It’s not merely about the gay issue. It’s about the gospel, and who Christ is. “You need to hear this story. You may not be Episcopalian, but what happened to them is already happening to you.” Carefully documented and yet powerfully told, with complete index. Foreword by Rick Warren; endorsements by J. I. Packer, Chuck Colson, and Christianity Today Managing Editor, Mark Galli.

Lancelot Andrewes and His Private Devotions by Alexander Whyte 

Lancelot Andrewes was born of honest and godly parents in 1555. In 1603 he assisted at the coronation of James I. In 1605 he was raised to be Bishop of Chichester, and he was one of the translators of the Bible in 1607. He was one of the most popular preachers of his day, and well beloved amongst the laity and the clergy alike. But for all of his worldly accomplishments, it is for his private devotions-never intended for publication-that he is best remembered. With that entrancing book open before us we search the histories and the biographies of his time; the home and the foreign politics of his time; the State papers, the Church controversies, and not least the Court scandals and the criminal reports of his time, with the keenest interest and the most solicitous anxiety. A timeless treasure of Anglican spirituality, now once again available from the Apocryphile Press.

Book of Homilies Edited By. John Griffiths

The Book of Homilies contains the authorized sermons of the Church of England. Originally published in two volumes during the reigns of Edward VI and Elizabeth I, the homilies were intended to provide for the Church a new model of simplified topical preaching, as well as to perpetuate the theology of the English Reformation.

 The Accidental Anglican: The Surprising Appeal of the Liturgical Church by. Todd Hunter

Many are longing for historical connectedness and for theology that is “not tied to the whims of contemporary culture, but to apostolic-era understandings of Christian faith and practice.” They also yearn for rhythms and routines that build spiritual health. Still others are responding to a call to participate in worship rather than merely sitting back and looking at a stage. Liturgy offers all of this and more. In this book Todd Hunter chronicles his journey from the Jesus People movement and national leadership in the Vineyard to eventually becoming an Anglican Bishop. Along the way he explains why an evangelical Christian might be drawn to the liturgical way. Curious about the meaning of liturgy? Come and discover what may be waiting for you there.

The Faith We Confess: An Exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles by Gerald L Bray

The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion are one of the three historic ‘formularies’ (constitutional documents) of the Church of England. Along with the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal they gave the church its distinctive identity at the time of the Reformation, an identity which has had a formative infl uence on worldwide Anglicanism. The English formularies have played an exceptionally important role in shaping the Anglican Communion and they continue to serve as reference points whenever it is necessary to think in terms of a common Anglican tradition. In the confusion caused by recent developments, it is encouraging that in many parts of the Anglican Communion some have returned to these sources to satisfy a genuine hunger for both Anglican tradition and sound Christian doctrine. It is to meet this growing demand that this book has been written. Although the Articles have had a chequered historical career, the intention of this book is to take them as they now stand and interpret what they mean for us today. Historical circumstances cannot be avoided completely and will be mentioned as necessary, but the main emphasis here is theological. What do the Articles say about what we believe and how should they be understood and applied by us today? Read on! Gerald Bray is director of research for the Latimer Trust and research professor at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama, USA.

The History of the English Church by John R.H. Moorman 

This authoritative account of the Church in England covers its history from earliest times to the late twentieth century. Includes chapters on the Roman, Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Norman, and Medieval periods before a description of the Reformation and its effects, the Stuart period, and the Industrial Age, with a final chapter on the modern church through 1972.

Thomas Cranmer: A Life by. Dr. Diarmaid MacCulloch

Thomas Cranmer, the architect of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, was the archbishop of Canterbury who guided England through the early Reformation—and Henry VIII through the minefields of divorce. This is the first major biography of him for more than three decades, and the first for a century to exploit rich new manuscript sources in Britain and elsewhere.

Diarmaid MacCulloch, one of the foremost scholars of the English Reformation, traces Cranmer from his east-Midland roots through his twenty-year career as a conventionally conservative Cambridge don. He shows how Cranmer was recruited to the coterie around Henry VIII that was trying to annul the royal marriage to Catherine, and how new connections led him to embrace the evangelical faith of the European Reformation and, ultimately, to become archbishop of Canterbury. By then a major English statesman, living the life of a medieval prince-bishop, Cranmer guided the church through the king’s vacillations and finalized two successive versions of the English prayer book.

MacCulloch skillfully reconstructs the crises Cranmer negotiated, from his compromising association with three of Henry’s divorces, the plot by religious conservatives to oust him, and his role in the attempt to establish Lady Jane Grey as queen to the vengeance of the Catholic Mary Tudor. In jail after Mary’s accession, Cranmer nearly repudiated his achievements, but he found the courage to turn the day of his death into a dramatic demonstration of his Protestant faith.

From this vivid account Cranmer emerges a more sharply focused figure than before, more conservative early in his career than admirers have allowed, more evangelical than Anglicanism would later find comfortable. A hesitant hero with a tangled life story, his imperishable legacy is his contribution in the prayer book to the shape and structure of English speech and through this to the molding of an international language and the theology it expressed.

In addition to these books you can check out this lecture given by J.I. Packer

Packer is Board of Governors Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He also serves as a contributing editor to Christianity Today. Packer’s writings include books such as A Quest for Godliness (Crossway), Growing in Christ (Crossway), and Rediscovering Holiness (Servant) and numerous articles published in journals such as Churchman, SouthWestern Journal, Christianity Today, Reformation & Revival Journal and Touchstone.

Why I am an Anglican – J.I. Packer

http://www.regentaudio.com/why_i_am_an_anglican

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Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, 1626

A devoted scholar, hard-working and accurate, and a master of fifteen languages, Lancelot Andrewes was renowned for his learning and for his preaching, and was a seminal influence on the development of a distinctive reformed Catholic theology in the Church of England.  Born in the parish of All Hallows, Barking, Andrewes was educated at Merchant Taylors’ School and Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, where he was elected Fellow in 1576 and Catechist in 1580.   In 1589 he became Vicar of St Giles, Cripplegate, and Master of Pembroke Hall.  His incumbency at Cripplegate was attached to a prebend at St Paul’s Cathedral, where his remarkable preaching abilities first attracted notice.  In 1601 he became Dean of Westminster.  Under James the First (reigned 1603-1625), who held Andrewes in high esteem, he was made Bishop of Chichester in 1605, of Ely in 1609, and of Winchester in 1619.

A distinguished biblical scholar proficient in both Hebrew and Greek, in 1604 Andrewes attended the Hampton Court Conference and was appointed one of the translators of the Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible.  He was largely responsible for the translation of the Pentateuch (the Books of Moses) and the historical Books (including the Chronicles and Kings).  Andrewes was involved in vigorous correspondence with Roman Catholic controversialists and critics of the Church of England, including Cardinal Bellarmine, and in this correspondence he gave a robust defense of the catholicity of the Church of England.

Andrewes died at Winchester House, Southwark, in 1626, on either September 25 or 26 (the uncertainty of the date accounts for the variance among Anglican Churches in the date of his commemoration).  He was buried in the parish church which later became Southwark Cathedral.

Andrewes was one of the principal influences in the formation of a distinctly reformed Catholic Anglican theology, which in reaction to the rigidity of the Puritanism of his time, he insisted should be moderate in tone and catholic in content and perspective.  Convinced that true theology must be built on sound learning, he cultivated the friendship of such divines as Richard Hooker and George Herbert, as well as of scholars from abroad, including the French Reformed pastor-theologians Isaac Casaubon and Pierre du Moulin.  His aversion to Calvinism probably explains his absence from the Church of England’s delegation to the Synod of Dort in 1618.  Andrewes held a high doctrine of the Eucharist, emphasizing that in the sacrament we receive the true Body and Blood of Christ, and he consistently used sacrificial language of the rite.  He desired the Church of England to express its liturgy in ordered ceremonial and in his own chapel used the mixed chalice (wine and water), incense, and altar-lights (candles).

In his lifetime Andrewes’ fame rested particularly on his preaching.  He regularly preached at court on the greater Church festivals, being the favorite preacher of the King.  His “Ninety-Six Sermons”, first published in 1629, remain a classic of Anglican homiletical works.  The sermons are characterized by sophisticated verbal conceits, a minute (and to modern sensibilities overworked)  analysis of the text, and constant Greek and Latin quotations.  The noted Orthodox theologian Vladimir Lossky has written perceptively of the deeply patristic character of Andrewe’s theology in these sermons.

Andrewes was also a deeply devout man, and one of his most admired works is his Preces Privatae (“Private Devotions”), a collection of devotions, mainly in Greek, drawn from the Scriptures and from ancient liturgies, compiled for his personal use.  The Preces were translated in partial versions from 1630 onwards, and the first comprehensive edition was published in 1675.  The Preces illustrate Andrewes’ piety and throw light on the sources of his theology.

Andrewes was respected by many as the model of a bishop at a time when the episcopate was held in low esteem.  His student, John Hacket, later Bishop of Lichfield, wrote of him:

“Indeed he was the most Apostolical and Primitive-like Divine, in my Opinion, that wore a Rochet in his Age; of a most venerable Gravity, and yet most sweet in all Commerce; the most Devout that I ever saw, when he appeared before God; of such a Growth in all kind of Learning that very able Clerks were of a low Stature to him.”

prepared from The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
and Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980)

The Collect

Lord and Father, our King and God, by your grace the Church was enriched by the great learning and eloquent preaching of your servant Lancelot Andrewes, but even more by his example of biblical and liturgical prayer: Conform our lives, like his, to the image of Christ, that our hearts may love you, our minds serve you, and our lips proclaim the greatness of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

( Copied from Todd Granger blog: http://www.forallsaints.wordpress.com )

 

The following is an excerpt from a sermon preached before King James, at Whitehall in December, 1614

This sure is matter of love; but came there any good to us by it? There did. For our conception being the root as it were, the very groundsill of our nature; that He might go to the root and repair of our nature from the very foundation, thither He went; that what had been there defiled and decayed by the first Adam, might by the Second be cleansed and set right again. That had our conception been stained, by Him therefore, primum ante omnia,to be restored again. He was not idle all the time He was an embyro all the nine months He was in the womb; but then and there He even ate out the core of corruption that cleft to our nature and us, and made both us and it an unpleasing object in the sight of God.

And what came of this? We who were abhorred by God, filii irae was our title, were by this means made beloved in Him. He cannot, we may be sure, account evil of that nature, that is now become the nature of His own SonNHis now no less than ours. Nay farther, given this privilege to the children of such as are in Him, though but of one parent believing, that they are not as the seed of two infidels, but are in a degree holy, eo ipso; and have a farther right to the laver of regeneration, to sanctify them throughout by the renewing of the Holy Ghost. This honour is to us by the dishonour of Him; this the good by Christ an embyro.

A Prayer: 
Almighty God, who gavest thy servant Lancelot Andrewes the gift of thy holy Spirit and made him a man of prayer and a faithful pastor of thy people: Perfect in us what is lacking of thy gifts, of faith, to increase it, of hope, to establish it, of love, to kindle it, that we may live in the life of thy grace and glory; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Remembering the Martyrs of New Guinea, 1942

New Guinea, the second largest island in the world, was on of the main frontiers of Christian mission in the twentieth century, because of the difficult terrain and the cultural diversity of its peoples, who speak some 500 distinct languages.  Christian missionaries first began work there in the 1860s and 1870s, with only limited success.  The Anglican mission began in 1891, and the first bishop was consecrated in 1898.  Today the vast majority Papuans describe themselves as Christians, of whom a little over three percent are Anglicans.  Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and members of the United Church make up a majority of Christians on the island.  There is a great deal of ecumenical cooperation among the Churches, particularly in the areas of health and education.  Most of the rural health work, and nearly all of the training of nurses and community health workers, is carried out by the Churches.

During the Second World War, the suffering of missionaries and of native people was severe.  This feast day, observed in the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea and in some dioceses of the Anglican Church of Australia, marks the witness of eight missionaries and two Papuan martyrs, who were betrayed by non-Christians to the Japanese invaders.  The day also includes remembrance of the faith and devotion of Papuan Christians of all Churches, who risked their own lives to care for the wounded and to save the lives of many who otherwise would have perished.

adapted from Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980)

The Collect

Almighty God, we remember before you this day the blessed martyrs of New Guinea, who, following the example of their Savior, laid down their lives for their friends; and we pray that we who honor their memory may imitate their loyalty and faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

This post was taken from Todd Granger’s blog


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Easter Monday

The Pentecost - Oil/Canvas (20" x 26")

The Pentecost. Oil/Canvas. Alexander Sadoyan.

I was struck today by the craziness of the first Christian sermon, preached by Peter in Acts 2 (a portion of which assigned for today in the Daily Office, hence this post’s title), especially as I tried to imagine myself as one of the original hearers.

The scene is the day of Pentecost, and the reason you are in earshot of Peter’s sermon is that you were curious when you heard stormy winds that seemed to be coming from inside a nearby house.  You come and join the crowd forming around the house, and then you recognize the place.  It’s that house where about 100 people have locked themselves up after the crucifixion of their false Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

In the time since Jesus’ death, hardly anyone has gone in or out of the building, and the rumors about what they might be doing inside are getting more bizarre by the day.  Still, the sound of a typhoon coming from the upstairs of the building, is beyond the explanation of even the wildest rumors that have been going around.

Some of the people standing next to you begin to snicker about how the sound must just be a loud party, and now that the guy who seems to be the leader of them and is beginning to speak is the drunkest of all.  Internally, however, you begin to wonder if it’s you who are drunk.  You seem to be hearing this man’s voice speaking in the language of your home country, your trade, and your religion, three different languages at the same time, saying the same thing, uttered from a single mouth, and he seems to be talking about God, the Spirit of God, and this Jesus.

Not only is he saying that the recently crucified blasphemer was killed, but now he is blaming you for it.  You start to get angry on that point, and so does the crowd around you.  Many of you only heard about the guy after the fact.  Why is he blaming you?

But then the speaker starts making even more audacious claims.  First, he says that this whole thing, even Jesus’ horrific execution, has been according to God’s plan, and that God raised Jesus from the dead.  And though you don’t catch it at first, it becomes clear that he is even saying that Jesus is God, and that King David had prophesied about the whole thing a thousand years before.

This is not a tame sermon.   It is a sermon to which you find yourself responding despite yourself.

“Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say…Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.  This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.  But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.  David said about him:

‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope,
because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day.  But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.  Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.  God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.

-Rev. Nick Jordan

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Snake Bit! (Part 1 of 2)

Yesterday, Palm Sunday, was a particularly rich day of worship at All Saints.  Gathering outside under a beautiful sky, joyously processing as a church, marking the shift to the sobriety of Holy Week, the profound reading of the entire passion narrative from Matthew, the enthusiastic singing – it was a great time worshipping the Lord.  I also particularly enjoyed the opportunity to explore the texts from Isaiah 50 and Philippians 2, reflecting on why Christ was able to move “with his face like flint” into the pain and suffering of the events that followed the Triumphal Entry.  He walked this path because of obedience, trust and love.  He obeyed the will of the Father, which led him to the cross,  because he was sustained by deep trust in the Father.  His love for us was so great that he became a bondservant on our behalf, bearing the eternal scars of his commitment to serve us.

Christ’s obedience, trust and love stirs up worship and awe.  It also calls me to follow suit in my own life.

As a preacher, I’m always searching for relevant examples and applications for the points I make in messages.  After the service, I received an email from one of the people helping plant the new church in Chatham County.  My call to follow the example of Jesus, “obeying the clear voice of the Lord as we walk into the dark” (Isaiah 50:10), trusting God to vindicate us and protect us (believing that the Lord has our back), spoke to her powerfully as she contemplates the risk of planting a new church.

I am so thankful for the email – and  thankful for the reminder of a terrific illustration of obedience, trust and love that leads to radical risk and sacrifice.

There is a strong sense that God is calling a vibrant, theologically sound Anglican church into existence to proclaim Christ and serve people in Chatham County.  But as clearly as the Lord seems to be speaking, it is definitely a walk of faith into the unknown.  Everyone involved, especially David & Martha Hyman, is being called to great trust in God.  Planting this church will require significant sacrifice – sacrifice appropriate to a bondservant “who bears the life-long scars of love.”   The people forming Holy Trinity-Chatham are binding themselves in love to their community.

There is a risk of obedience for All Saints as well.  The math doesn’t work out to plant a church this early in our life.  Losing such dear people who have invested their lives in our church and served so profoundly is hard.  These are not sideliners in the life of All Saints, and we’re certainly going to feel it!

But together – All Saints and Holy Trinity – recognize the hand of God and hear the voice of God.  We walk into risk, as bondservants for the sake of those who do not yet know him.

I am praying already that God will bring many new people to faith in both places, that this birth will spawn a wave of births – of people coming to faith and growing as eager followers of Jesus.

Pray with our staff, vestry, the folks from Chatham, and me, that we will see the fruit of faith and obedience in many, many ways in the lives of people in our neighboring communities.

-Rev. Steve Breedlove

(read the continuation of this post here)

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