Note to readers: Liturgical entries on this blog are based on the traditional calendar of the Books of Common Prayer and the traditional one-year Eucharistic lectionary. If you follow a newer calendar or three-year lectionary, there are variations in names for some Sundays and in the readings.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas

The Feast of Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ commemorates an event and also proclaims a key theological concept- the Incarnation. "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us" (St. John 1:14). Of course, we celebrate the birth of a great person in human history, but as Christians, we celebrate much more; we celebrate the transcendent and eternal God coming in human flesh. If we can focus on that reality, then we will raise the level of our own observances beyond a simple birthday party.We will move into the realm of mystery, awe and thanksgiving .And if we appreciate the mystery of the Incarnation,  maybe we will become better witnesses to a world in desperate need of God in Christ.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Fourth Sunday in Advent

This year on the Fourth Sunday in Advent, we are almost to Christmas, and it is hard for us to hold back with all the secular festivities that surround us. However, the Gospel for the day puts a brake on our rush to celebration. We are called back to the theme of preparation. In St. John 1:19 ff, John the Baptist reminds us that the way for the Christ must be prepared. The one who is to come is greater than even the greatest human prophet. So let us use the last hours of Advent for spiritual preparations.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

St. Thomas the Apostle- December 21

Note: Because of computer issues, posts will be very brief for the foreseeable future.

The traditional feast of St. Thomas the Apostle has been 21 December. Although we tend to associate St. Thomas with the Resurrection, he is also an appropriate example for contemplating Christ's Incarnation. After doubting the Resurrection, in St. John 20:28, Thomas affirms his faith that Jesus the Christ is "my Lord and my God." As Advent draws toward a close, let us focus on such faith in the incarnate Lord.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Third Sunday in Advent and Ember Days

In the Epistle from I Corinthians 4:1ff, St. Paul speaks of his ministry, and the Gospel from St. Matthew 11:2ff speaks of the ministry of St. John the Baptist. Both of these passages are far removed from the secular holiday cheer that surrounds us. Advent is a serious season meant to focus on spiritual preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ, and one of the themes of the preparation is the Christian ministry. We see this theme in the Collect for the day:
O Lord Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee; Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ's first coming by calling people to repentance. Likewise the Christian ministry must continue to call people to repentance. We can not appreciate the meaning of Christmas if we do not first acknowledge that we are sinners who need the Savior. And even more seriously, we can not be ready for Christ's coming in final judgment if we do not turn from our disobedience.

These themes will also be continued on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of this week which are the winter Ember Days.
For more on the Epistle for Advent III, see http://bcpanglican.blogspot.com/2011/12/third-sunday-in-advent.html.
For more on the Gospel, see http://bcpanglican.blogspot.com/2010/12/advent-iii.html

For more on Advent Ember Days, see http://bcpanglican.blogspot.com/2010/12/advent-ember-days.html

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Second Sunday in Advent

The Second Sunday in Advent has often been called "Bible Sunday," and the Collect, Epistle and Gospel for this Sunday all stress the importance of Holy Scripture. There is much to be said on this subject, but in this post I would like to focus on one theme: the Church and Holy Scripture. As Anglicans, we should always remember that God’s revelation in Scripture is closely connected to His work in the Church. Church and Scripture have always been intertwined. Scripture guides and corrects the Church, but the Church has been God’s instrument to preserve and interpret Scripture. Although individual opinions and applications can be valuable, it is the corporate understanding of Scripture that is central. As 2 Peter 1:20 warns, “no prophecy of scripture is of a private interpretation.” Understanding Scripture depends upon the work of the Holy Spirit in the universal Church. Many great thinkers and even saints have made mistakes about biblical ideas and details of fact. Even large Christian organizations and denominations have. At times in history, the majority of Christians have accepted poor explanations on some points of faith or morals.

Yet, Christ’s promise remains: the gates of hell shall not prevail against His universal Church (St. Matt. 16:18). So we look to the understanding of Scripture that has survived in the Church through the centuries. We look to the catholic or universal faith of the ancient Church, “what has been believed everywhere, always, by all” (St. Vincent of Lerins). These are the beliefs reflected in the church fathers. These beliefs are summarized in the ancient creeds and in our Catechism. They are also expressed in the historic liturgies. There may be differences about interpreting some details, but the core of Scripture is clear. And that core of Scripture centered on Christ the eternal Word of God demands our faithful response. May Advent be a time for us to renew our commitment to an orthodox understanding of Scripture.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Saint Nicholas of Myra

Of course, today, December 6, is the real feast of St. Nicholas, fouth-century bishop from Asia Minor (or modern Turkey). It is a good time to remind ourselves and others about the true Christian significance of this saint and of gift-giving. St. Nicholas focused on faith in Christ, not on commercialism. Let us do likewise in our Advent preparations.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

First Sunday in Advent

Since I have had to borrow a computer today, my post is simply to refer readers to previous posts:
http://bcpanglican.blogspot.com/2011/11/first-sunday-in-advent.html
http://bcpanglican.blogspot.com/2010/11/first-sunday-in-advent.html

May your Advent preparation be blessed!