Category Archives: Saints

Nancy Shares her Story

Five years ago God led my husband Bob and me to All Saints Church on September 17, 2006, the “birthday” of this church.  We were just visiting, checking it out, and neither of us had any idea that this would end up being our church home.  Why would we?  We live in Holly Springs, about 45 minutes away.  We had just looked up nearby Anglican Mission churches, and since Bob was in town, we decided to drive out and see what was going on.  But God had different ideas than just a visit.  It was not in any way immediate, but we have definitely ended up staying and finding a spiritual home, a place of growth and sound teaching that is very important to us both.

Over the last eight years God has led me on a journey I never expected.  He has taken me out of my comfort zone, stretched me, molded me, stripped me, and remade me.  I have been to more places spiritually and emotionally than I thought I would ever be.  I have been led out a church that I loved and a denomination and tradition I have known since childhood.  Through this I lost friends and relationships that I thought would be life long.  I had lived a life of service and commitment to my church, and now no longer had a church to serve.  I no longer had a church to attend.  But, I still had a God and he was at work, stripping away and stripping down.  God stripped away the idols of worship that I did not even realize that I had, or that had me.  I was left with no trappings, no tradition, no communion, no involvement in church community, no excess service of the church.  I was stripped down until there was nothing but him.  God, and God alone to serve, follow and worship, in spirit and in truth.

It was during this time that he brought us to All Saints Church.  Though it is clear to me and my husband that this is where God has called us for this time, it has not been easy.  We live 45 minutes away.  My husband has a job that requires extensive travel, so he is gone about 95% of the time.  Involvement for me is easier than for him, but still not easy.  It requires a sacrifice.  Just coming on Sunday requires sacrifice.  But God is so good and has provided richly.

So, out of obedience I came, Sunday after Sunday, many times alone, many times with the dear friends the Lord has given, but not very often with my husband.  Out of obedience I began to get involved.  I joined the Prayer Ministry and my involvement with that has grown.  I have attended Women’s Retreats and really enjoy the opportunity to get to know the wonderful women of this church.  All of this has been a big stretch for me, as I am such an introvert.  But I learned something about myself and my spiritual journey a few years ago.  My spiritual life has been one of relinquishment, of giving up to God.  Giving up control, giving up dreams, giving up my will and letting God take over.  I also learned that Jesus will step into broken places and into broken dreams and bring healing and strength and beauty.  And that is what he has done with me.  The Spirit has opened me and stretched me, and he continues to do so.  He has renewed me and filled me and taught me.  He has moved me into Prayer Ministry here, a ministry I love.  And the Spirit had prepared me for, and moved me into, a leadership role in that ministry, something that I would have never foreseen.

So, here I am.  My involvement here at All Saints looks different than at any other church and time and place in my life, but I am confident that God knows what he is doing.  I really feel that he is using the season to prepare me for the next steps on this great journey with him.  He knows what that will look like, I don’t.  I don’t need to.  All I have to do is be obedient and follow him.  He will show me the way.

Oh, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!  Romans 11:33

Nancy

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All Souls: the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed

In the New Testament, “saints” are all the baptized, the entire membership of the Body of Christ, and in the Collect for All Saints’ Day the word “elect” is used in a similar sense.  But from early times, the word “saint” came to be applied particularly to persons whose lives bore exemplary witness to the grace of God in Christ, whose witness was recalled with gratitude by later generations of believers.

Beginning in the tenth century, it became customary to set aside another day, as a kind of extension of the feast of All Saints, on which the Church commemorated that vast body of the faithful who, though no less members of the company of the redeemed, are unknown to the wider fellowship of the Church.  At first a commemoration of the departed of the monastic orders, under Odilo of Cluny (†1049) it was extended to include “all the dead who have existed from the beginning of the world…until the end of time”.  Evidence for its English celebration is found in the Monastic Constitutions of Archbishop Lanfranc (†1089) and in at least four ancient dedications of churches and a college at Oxford.  All Souls is also a day for particular remembrance of faithful departed family members and friends.

The observance of the day was abolished at the Reformation because of its association with the doctrine of purgatory and the abuses associated with Masses offered for the dead, but a renewed understanding of its meaning has led to a widespread reclamation of this commemoration among Anglicans and to its inclusion in the calendars of the Church of England, The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Church of Canada, among others.

adapted from Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980) – reposted from Todd Granger’s Blog 

The Collect

O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers:  Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of your Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

A Prayer For All The Faithful Departed


In peace let us pray to the Lord.
Almighty God, who have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Grant to your whole Church in paradise and on earth, your light and your peace.
Grant that all those who have been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection may die to sin and rise to newness of life, and that through the grave and gate of death we may pass with him to our joyful resurrection.
Grant to us who are still in our pilgrimage, and who walk as yet by faith, that your Holy Spirit may lead us in holiness and righteousness all our days.
Grant to your faithful people pardon and peace, that we may be cleansed from all our sins, and serve you with a quiet mind.
Grant to all who mourn a sure confidence in your fatherly care, that, casting all their grief upon you, they may know the consolation of your love.
Give courage and faith to those who are bereaved, that they may have strength to meet the days ahead in the comfort of a reasonable and holy hope, in the joyful expectation of eternal life with those they love.
Help us, in the midst of things we cannot understand, to believe and trust in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection to life everlasting.
Grant us, with all who have died in the hope of the resurrection, to have our consummation and bliss in your eternal and everlasting glory, and, with all your saints, to receive the crown of life which you promise to all who share in the victory of your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Father of all, we pray to you for those we love, but see no longer: Grant them your peace; let light perpetual shine upon them; and in your loving wisdom and almighty power, work in them the good purpose of your perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, we pray you to set your passion, cross, and death, between your judgement and our souls, now and in the hour of our death. Give mercy and grace to the living, pardon and rest to the dead, to your holy Church peace and concord, and to us sinners everlasting life and glory; who with the Father and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, now and ever.

Lord Jesus Christ, who by your death have taken away the sting of death: Grant to us your servants so to follow in faith where you have led the way, that we may at length fall asleep peacefully in you, and awake after your likeness; for your tender mercies’ sake.

O Almighty God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, who by a voice from heaven proclaimed, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord: Multiply, we pray, to those who rest in Jesus the abundant blessings of your love, that the good work which you have begun in them may be made perfect unto the day of Jesus Christ. And of your mercy, O heavenly Father, grant that we, who now serve you on earth, may at last, together with them, be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

A Prayer For Those Who Mourn

Lord, Jesus Christ, the Resurrection and the Life:
You consoled Martha and Mary in their distress; draw near to us who mourn, and dry the tears of those who weep.
You wept at the grave of Lazarus, your friend; comfort us in our sorrow.
You raised the dead to life; give to our (brother/sister) eternal life.
You promised paradise to the thief who repented; bring our (brother/sister) to the joys of heaven.
Our (brother/sister) was washed in Baptism and annointed with the Holy Spirit; give (him/her) fellowship with all thy saints.
(He/She) was nourished with your Body and Blood; grant (him/her) a place at the table in your heavenly kingdom.
Comfort us in our sorrows at the death of our (brother/sister); let our faith be our consolation, and eternal life our hope.

Almighty God, Father of all mercies and giver of comfort: Deal graciously, we pray, with all who mourn; that, casting all their care upon you, they may know the consolation of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Almighty God, look with pity upon the sorrows of your servants for whom we pray. Remember them, Lord, in mercy; nourish them with patience; comfort them with a sense of your goodness; lift up your countenance upon them; and give them peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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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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Backpacking and Discipleship

Trip Highlights

The first weekend in June, twelve men (an appropriately symbolic number!) participated in All Saints Church’s fourth annual Men’s Backpacking Trip. We navigated our way through just over 21 miles of Pisgah National Forest over three days, and David Hyman led us through a series of reflections on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. In many ways, the dynamic nature of the trip with its grueling climbs, periods of disorientation (including times of separation within the group due to outdated maps), ten bone-chilling river crossings, times of singing and laughter, and even the occasional time of rest is paradigmatic of the dynamic nature of what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Many of us at All Saints Church are thinking and praying deeply about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and how our church community can be more faithful in fulfilling our call to be and to make disciples. In the following reflections, I hope to meditate on discipleship—a topic that was stressed during the reflections on this year’s Men’s Backpacking Trip.

Theological/Ministerial Reflections on Discipleship

On our first night in the woods, Father David challenged us men to live lives of meaning according to the vocations and purposes that God has ordained for us.  He challenged us to confront all that is in our lives that would inhibit us from directing our lives toward those ends. He read to us an article highlighting the challenge of living such lives in a world of increasingly individualized and disintegrated lives. In my personal reading this summer through The Brothers Karamazov, the minor character Mikhail describes a similar milieu to the young Zossima, and I find that it applies to the contemporary world just as well as it did to 19th century Russia. Zossima asks Mikhail what this isolation is that Mikhail keeps talking about.  Mikhail states:

…Everyone now strives most of all to separate his person, wishing to experience the fullness of life within himself, and yet what comes of all his efforts is not the fullness of life but full suicide, for instead of the fullness of self-definition, they fall into complete isolation. For all men in our age are separated into units, each seeks seclusion in his own hole, each withdraws from the others, hides himself, and hides what he has, and ends by pushing people away from himself…For he is accustomed to relying only on himself, he has separated his unit from the whole, he has accustomed his soul to not believing in people’s help, in people or in mankind, and now only trembles lest his money and his acquired privileges perish. Everywhere now the human mind has begun laughably not to understand that a man’s true security lies not in his own solitary effort, but in the general wholeness of humanity.

Mikhail knows well of this isolation, for he committed the act of murder in his youth and had isolated himself from others and even from his own conscience as a means to avoid being confronted for his sin. Such a life is antithetical to the life of discipleship. It is only once Mikhail confesses his sin to Zossima that he finds release and peace.

In his reflections on the life of discipleship in Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer states, “Sin wants to be alone with people. It takes them away from the community. The more lonely people become, the more destructive the power of sin over them. The more deeply they become entangled in it, the more unholy is their loneliness. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light…Sin must be brought into the light.” In a discipleship relationship in the midst of community, such openness and confession must take place. Bonhoeffer states that this transparency has only been made possible because of Christ. He states, “In the presence of Christ human beings were allowed to be sinners, and only in this way could they be helped. Every pretense came to an end in Christ’s presence…This is why Jesus gave his followers the authority to hear the confession and to forgive sin in Christ’s name.”

In fact, we are commanded as Christians to confess our sins to one another. The epistle of James commands, “Therefore confess your sins to one another, so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16) Though Christ entrusted the absolution of sin into the hands of his apostles and down through the ages into the hands of the Church’s priests (John 20:23), confession among all disciples leads to healing, for it reverses Cain’s sardonic refusal to be his brother’s keeper (Gen. 4:9). Hearing a brother or sister’s confession with care is to declare that one is their brother’s keeper. To confess one’s sin to another is to trust the other as their keeper. Such an act redeems the brokenness of the Fall and is an act of Re-creation. Commenting in his memoir on the life of a man who discipled his theological development, Stanley Hauerwas states, “If I learned anything from John Howard Yoder, it is not to trust yourself to know yourself. You learn who you are only by making yourself accountable to the judgment of others.” We need others to help us to know whether we are truly Christian, or at least what parts of our lives are resisting the reign of Christ.

One of the most frequent descriptors of the Church is that it is the Body of Christ. In Paul’s epistle to the Colossians, he commands the Colossian Christians to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, by teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.” (Colossians 3:16) In Ephesians, Paul states something similar, saying, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit, by singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, by singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, by giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 5:18b-20) When Christians teach, admonish, rejoice, and worship together, the word of Christ dwells among us and the Church is filled with the Holy Spirit, just as it filled Mary’s womb—and Christ is given flesh through our common life.

Of course, in ways, all of this is in part experienced in our time of corporate worship at All Saints Church. If one is a part of a 242 group (small group), these dynamics of discipleship in corporate worship are deepened and expanded in more profound ways. Yet, if discipleship is to look the way it looks in honest confession of sin, in admonishing and encouragement, in being our brother or sister’s keeper, discipleship must be much more intimate. In our time together on our second night, a few of us men shared how significant discipleship relationships have strengthened our lives as disciples of Christ. As a church, we are thinking and praying through how to implement such relationships into the life of the church. Please pray with us. Ask yourself whether you have such relationships within your life. If such relationships are missing from our lives, a holistic life of a disciple of Christ is not being cultivated in our lives. May we as a church commit to cultivating fuller lives of discipleship in our common life together. As we do so, may God richly dwell amongst His Church and may the Spirit fill us to be the Body of Christ in God’s world.

As we prayed on Ascension Day:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior 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 abides with his Church on earth, even to the end
of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and
reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory
everlasting. Amen.

-Sean A. Ewing

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Good Questions

The two questions I hear most often around church these days are, “Are you back at work now?” and “Did you ever leave?” It’s funny that those questions can be asked simultaneously. Well, yes and yes. But I think maybe I need to explain.

I love that I work in a place where I can go on maternity leave and never really leave. What a gift that I never wanted to! In terms of attending church, Anastasia and I never really missed a beat—but neither have Sunday mornings been work much at all for me over the past few months. Faithful volunteers have picked up all kinds of slack so that I could attend church with my family and focus almost exclusively on worship and caring for Anastasia. I am exceedingly grateful to the people who have taken on those responsibilities for me—thank you! I am gradually figuring out what it looks like to reassume all of my Sunday morning responsibilities as I continue to have my hands full—literally—with my little girl.

In the meantime, even as I was recovering from a c-section and adjusting to life with a newborn again, I was chomping at the bit to get back to work and fellowship with coworkers that I love so dearly. Anastasia attended her first staff meeting at three weeks old; now, at twelve weeks, she’s a veteran staff member! As any new mom will tell you, having grown-up outlets for using your brain and engaging in conversation about anything other than feeding schedules and diaper changing is vital to her sanity and identity as a human being. It is yet another good gift, then, that I am part of a staff that not only has welcomed a frequently uncooperative newborn into the fold but has allowed me to continue to participate in prayer and work together even when, in my sleep-deprived state, I often have very little to contribute. This, too, is an adjustment process—even as I figure out how to coordinate nap schedules with staff meetings, I am learning what it looks like to maintain vital contact with coworkers even as I do much more work from home and often at odd hours.

If you know my family and our story at all, you know how much of our life has been interwoven with the life of All Saints Church. How appropriate, then, that it was only a few weeks into my tenure on staff that we learned of Anastasia’s impending birth; in fact, I spent nearly every spare moment of our staff retreat last summer sleeping off the miseries of the first trimester of her life. Now, a year later, I anticipate her tagging along with us on retreat, Lord willing, and I hope she’ll be the one doing a lot of sleeping! Even as this church family walked with us through every moment of Eliza’s life and death, born as she was just a few months after we first joined this little group called All Saints, what a joy it is to have you all walking with us as Anastasia joins the family—and even the staff!—too.

So I suppose, then, no, I never really did leave. And yes, I’m back. Thanks for having me.

-Daniele Jackson

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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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