Thursday, December 27, 2012

Apostle & Evangelist -- Saint John

John, the son of Zebedee, with his brother James, was called from being a fisherman to be a disciple and “fisher of men.” With Peter and James, he became one of the inner group of three disciples whom Jesus chose to be with him at the raising of Jairus’ daughter, at the Transfiguration, and in the garden of Gethsemane.

John and his brother James are recorded in the Gospel as being so quick to anger, wanting to avenge the their Gospel message, that Jesus nicknames them “Boanerges,” which means “sons of thunder.” They also appear ambitious, in that they sought seats of honor at Jesus’ right and left when he should come into his kingdom. Yet they were faithful companions who were willing, without knowing the cost, to share the cup Jesus was to drink. When the other disciples responded in anger to the audacity of the brothers in asking for this honor, Jesus explained that in his kingdom leadership and rule take the form of being a servant to all.

Tradition would identify “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” and if this is the case, then he clearly enjoyed a very special relationship with his Master, reclining close to Jesus at the Last Supper, receiving the care of his Mother at the cross, and being the first to understand the truth of the empty tomb.

Saint Luke, in his Acts of the Apostles records John’s presence with the Apostle Peter on several occasions: the healing of the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, before the Sanhedrin, in prison, and on the mission to Samaria to lay hands on the new converts that they might receive the Holy Spirit.

Church tradition contends that John later went to Asia Minor and settled at Ephesus, where he had the care of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, until her death. Under the emperor Domitian, he was exiled to the island of Patmos, where he experienced the visions recounted in the Book of Revelation. Irenaeus, at the end of the second century, writes that Polycarp, bishop of the Church at Smyrna, recalled in his old age that he had known the apostle while growing up at Ephesus. It is probable that John died there. He alone of the Twelve is said to have lived to extreme old age and to have been spared a martyr’s death, though he suffered the martyrdom of exile.

Adapted from Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Adventus Interruptus

From Saint Matthew:
"A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."
I have to confess that this week has left me numb.

While soldering on Thursday, I learned that a longtime friend lost her 18 month fight against pancreatic cancer.  Then like all of you, I turned on the news only to see the hell that was unleashed on the lambs of Sandy Hook.  

Wendy and I became acquainted at my first job after retiring from the Air Force.  Truly an amazing soul; she was that person who could light an entire room simply by crossing its threshold.  She cast an infectious joy and even when having to confront a weasel of a first husband, her spirit was indomitable.  It was as though the old saying "You can't keep a good woman down" was penned for her.

Early in 2011, Wendy experienced an event while flying from Colorado.  Several of us advised her to go to the emergency room after developing what we suspected to be a blood clot.  This visit revealed the terrifying news of the cancer yet it probably extended her life.

She fought bravely over the coming months and obtained a quiet abiding faith in the Almighty, whom she knew was sustaining her through the body-wracking procedures fighting the cancer that was battling for her body.  But at 1:15 on Thursday morning, she exchanged her battered body for light eternal in the presence of the Almighty Triune Godhead.  For Wendy, we pray:
Almighty God, we remember before you today your faithful servant Wendy; and we pray that, having opened to her the gates of larger life, you will receive her more and more into your joyful service, that, with all who have faithfully served you in the past, she may share in the eternal victory of Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
*   *   *   *   *
Yesterday, we all learned of the hell that was unleashed on the quiet town of Newtown, CT.  I refuse to call this a tragedy.  I tragedy is when a child is lost to an accident or sudden illness.  Hell is when a son of Belial murders a classroom full of kindergartners, his mother and other adults before taking his own life.  Babies, whose entire lives were in front of them were wrenched from this world in an unthinkable fury.

My prayers go up for every family that has been touched by this horror.  My prayers also go up for this Republic that it would see the misery that's be wrought by this post-christian experiment.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


From the Scrolls of Isaiah:
"The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test. Then Isaiah said: "Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good."
Isaiah, like Jeremiah, was a Prophet at low ebb in Judah's history.  Enemies were at the gates and they were being ruled by a wicked, idolatrous king.  Even at a time like this, Advent's hope bursts fourth.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wednesday Morning

From St. John's Gospel:
"There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world."
Jonah bar Zechariah, John, the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, John the Baptizer;  Described by the Christ as the greatest man born of woman but least in the Kingdom of Heaven.  He was like a flaming arrow that was shot high into the dark night.  He died at the hands of a sniveling coward of a king who had him decapitated only to save face before his fellows.

Like his slightly younger cousin, John's birth followed an angelic announcement but where Jesus was born to a fair young virgin, John was born to aged parents and to a mother who was heretofore unable to conceive.  He was destined to live his adult life as an ascetic, someone who's appearance might strike fear into the hearts of polite folk.

In the days preceding the public ministry of Christ, his voice thundered across the Jordan Valley, speaking to rich and poor, Jew and Gentile alike; calling them to public repentance and to a Baptism that would be a public emblem of that repentance.

Do we hear him speaking to our lives in this season of preparation and examination?  His words call us to repent, and to ask "Would we be ready to meet the Christ if His second Advent were to be fulfilled today?"

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


From the Book of Malachi:
"See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight-- indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? 
For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the LORD in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years."
A read through Malachi, the "Italian Prophet", is to see a book that is full of the language of Advent.  Whether his is writing of the coming Baptizer who'll blaze the trail for the Messiah or the coming of the Lord himself, the language can't be clearer. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

On a Misty Morning in Advent

Reverie as the Caffeine kicks in...  On Jordan's Bank, the Baptist's Cry:

Sunday, December 09, 2012

On the Second Sunday in Advent

From the Book of Common Prayer (1928):
BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
In this current season of Christ's Second, man succumb to the temptation of using the Washington Post, Matt Drudge, "Rapture Ready" or even Jenkins and LaHaye as their means of knowing the times.  Though some of these sources are more earnest than others, they can't provide us with the means to discern, nor will they ever be a path to becoming "wise unto salvation".

It's in Holy Scripture that we see the unfolding of Christ's first coming and with it, along with the Holy Spirit's illumination, we might discern His second Advent.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

An Advent Meditation from Celebration Anglican

Toby Larson, Vicar of Celebration Anglican in Fredericksburg, VA shares an Advent Meditation Here...

Friday, December 07, 2012

Friday Reverie

On a Fair Friday in Advent

From the Book of Jeremiah:
"The days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness."
What a promise!  Jeremiah served the Almighty and ministered to the people of Judah at a time when the glories of David and Solomon were stories of past glory.  The kingdom was long divided and Israel to the north had been shattered by the Assyrians.  Judah now was on the verge of falling to the armies of Babylon.  In the midst of all this bad news comes this prophecy of hope; A righteous ruler will arrive on the scene and Jerusalem will be safe and secure.

Many (if not most) today are sensing a similar dread as they skim The Drudge Report or listen to the news.  We seem also to be living in a time of despair where our rulers are evil atheists and our enemies are at the gates.  Yet the promise made 2,600 years ago is ours to hold onto in Advent.  Our deliver is coming!

There is hope in Advent!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Starlight Serenade

The Feast of St. Nicholas

From the Book of Common Prayer:
Almighty God, in your love you gave your servant Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness both on land and sea: Grant, we pray, that your Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Very little is known about the life of Nicholas, except that he was the bishop of Myra, on the southwestern coast of Asia Minor in what is now Turkey, and that he suffered torture and imprisonment during the persecution under the Emperor Diocletian. It is possible that he was one of the bishops attending the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 (though he is not in any of the early lists of bishops present at the Council). Tradition holds that he was a defender of orthodoxy against Arianism. According to one legend, he was censured by the emperor Constantine after he dealt Arius a blow to the head during a session of the Council of Nicaea, his patience having been sorely tried by Arius’ behavior during the Council.

He was honored as a saint in Constantinople by the late sixth century by the Emperor Justinian, who in 580 dedicated a church to Nicholas in that city. His veneration became immensely popular in the West after the supposed removal of his body to Bari, Italy, in the late eleventh century (the three ships in which his relics were brought from Myra to to the seaport of Bari play a role in the Christmas carol, “I saw three ships come sailing in on Christmas Day in the morning”). In England almost 400 churches were dedicated to Nicholas, and there have perhaps been more churches and chapels dedicated to him throughout the world than to any other saint.

Nicholas is famed as the patron of Russia and Greece, the guardian of virgins and poor maidens, the protector of travelers, sailors, and merchants. He is also the patron of many towns and cities, including Bari, Venice, Freiburg, and Galway. In modern times he is perhaps best known as the protector and benefactor of children. One of the best known of the legendary narratives which demonstrate Nicholas’ love for God and for his neighbor is the story of his provision of dowries for three unmarried young women. The story is told that the father did not have money sufficient for their dowries, so on three successive nights Nicholas threw a bag of money through an open window, thus providing dowries for the man’s three daughters and probably saving them from lives of shame and prostitution.

adapted from the Oxford Dictionary of Saints, and the St. Nicholas Center

Wednesday, December 05, 2012


From the Mark's Gospel, Chapter 13:
Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. "Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back--whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'"
Today as we consider Christ's first Advent, we have the luxury of of seeing it in hindsight. In our rear view mirrors, we see a wind-up of three or four millennia before the incarnate Son of God burst upon the human scene.  Though this is true and many actions of this Advent were set in motion early on, very few saw it coming and fewer still were proactively waiting its appearance.  Outside of shepherds "keeping their folks by night", and saints like Anna and Simeon were all but blind to the baby born in Bethlehem.

In the season Christ's Second Advent, it is also possible for us to have such an earthbound focus that we're lulled into a walking spiritual coma.  Its for this reason that our Messiah calls for our spiritual alertness. 

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

Comfortable Words

From Isaiah 40:
"Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins."
I'm coming to see Advent as a season of solemn joy and expectation, a time of "happy seriousness".  This is especially true for me in the season of Christ's second advent when I consider that seeing God will be the pinnacle of our existence.  Yet at the same time, there will be that reckoning when I stand before him, talents in hand to give my report.

Monday, December 03, 2012

On a Sunny Morning in Advent

From Genesis 3:15:
"And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel."
Advent's seeds, though envisioned in the depths of eternity past, were fist scattered in fragrant Eden moments before Adam and Eve were evicted from paradise.

Believing in the omniscience of the Almighty, I have to believe that even in the deepest mists of the cosmic past, the Trinity that saw the coming rebellion of angels saw that the the chief usurper Lucifer successfully entice our first parents.  With this knowledge, They already had a plan to pay the price for the couple's disobedience and redeem humanity from the dark night of eternal death.  Which brings us back to this promise in Genesis 3.

Our first parents, standing in the presence of deity and feebly trying to hide behind irritating fig leaves have not only lost their home, but were silently beginning to die.  Yet in this, Eve was promised that one of her progeny would face down the progeny of this serpent, defeating it once and for all.

Mel Gibson gave us a powerful, albeit extra-biblical, image of this encounter in his "The Passion of the Christ".  In this, Jesus after encountering a viper in Gethsemane, stomps its head and destroys it.  The true encounter would occur some hours later on the brutal Roman cross.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

And Advent Begins

From the Book of Common Prayer:
ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.
In spite of the yard displays that are visible from space, the plethora of pre-christmas sales and the like, it isn't Christmas.  No, its Advent.  Its the first season on the Church Calendar and that period where the Christians consider the three comings of Christ.  These being His first coming to a foul stable on a cold night in Bethlehem, His coming into the lives of all who fall at his feet in repentance, and that final coming when He'll break onto the world's scene suddenly and finally.

Saturday, December 01, 2012