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Who are we?

The center of the Traditional Anglican Communion; adhering to the Holy Bible (KJV) in all matters of Faith and Doctrine, a strict reliance on the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, The two Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, the Two Creeds, and the Homilies and formularies of the Reformation Church of England.

Verse of the Day

Friday, February 28, 2020

A Perfect Portrait of Christ – 28 February 2020, Anno Domini


I
N the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:  13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-14)

            The most complete portrait of our Lord Jesus Christ that we own is the Word of God itself – from the first verse of Genesis to the last of Revelations; however, there are many portraits we have of Him scattered throughout Scripture of those objects with which we are very familiar. The Lord Jesus is the ‘Rose of Sharon,’ the ‘Lily of the Valleys,’ the ‘Bright and Morning Star, ‘the ‘Branch,’ the ‘Prince of Peace,’ etc. But today, I wish to limit our full portrait of Christ to His several descriptive nouns that are discerned from the Wilderness Tabernacle.

            First of all, the Tabernacle itself is a portrait of Christ – its design and features all point to one of our Lord’s characteristics. The Tabernacle was the constant point of abode of the Pillar of Fire by night, and the Pillar of Cloud by day. This is a clear illustration of the Presence of God – and our Lord Jesus Christ – with us always. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake theeSo that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Hebrews 13:5-8 (KJV) and, 20  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them(Matthew 18:20) So the Tabernacle is a physical and spiritual manifestation of Christ in His constant Presence with His Elect people.

            There is only one way of approach to the Father, and that is through the Son. I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me(John 14:6) To have one’s prayers lifted up to the Father by the High Priest, he must come to the Gate of the Tabernacle, and what is that Gate? Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep(John 10:7) Many may come to Christ, as did the Pharisees, with hypocritical hearts. These will not gain entrance – there must be a sacrifice that entitles them. But He is the Door and any who come to the Fold must come by way of the Door of admittance. But what qualifies us for that admittance? We must bring our sacrifice as did the Israelites of the Wilderness. Our sacrifice is not oxen or doves, goats or lambs – our sacrifice was made at Calvary 2,000 years ago. Our sacrifice which entitles our prayers to be heard by the Father is that Lamb sacrificed from before the Foundations of the World – sacrificed once-and-for-all for our sins.

            The sacrifice of our salvation is represented by the Bronze, or Brazen, Altar just inside the Gate of the Tabernacle without which no man can be received. In the Anglican faith, there is no such thing as a Roman Mass in which Christ is symbolically sacrificed anew – we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Our crosses are bare and empty since Christ is Risen! We receive the Bread and Wine as elements of His Spiritual Presence with us at His Table, not His sacrificed physical Body and Blood.

            Beyond the Bronze Altar, we come to the Bronze Laver – a highly polished fountain filled with water in which the priests were to wash their hands and feet. The priests could see their own likeness and need mirrored in the Laver. Any who did not wash in the Laver before approaching the Holy Place would die! Today, the believer needs no priest to access the Holy Place for all who are Christ’s are imbued with the role of priesthood in a general sense though the priest in manner of worship continues. 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.  6  Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded(1 Peter 2:5-6) In the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, this Laver is represented by the ‘Prayer of Humble Access’ before the reception of Communion. We are not clean without the washing of the Water of Life which Christ provides.

            Next, the priest enters the Holy Place of the Tabernacle – a room separated from the courtyard. On the northside (or right side facing the Most Holy Place) was a Table of shewbread representing the Presence of God. God is always represented by the North Side. Our reformed Communion Table is always against the wall. Man has no business standing in the place of God. The Bread of Presence is also Christ! 31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. 32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. 34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst(John 6:31-35) Our faith must be compelled by grace while we yet live for there is no salvation in the grave.

            Directly opposite the Table of the Bread of Presence was the Lampstand of Seven Candles. These represent the Holy Ghost without which no church can be called Holy. This also represent Christ as it does the Holy Ghost. Remember, the Holy Ghost will never speak of His own, but bring to our remembrance all things written in Scripture concerning Christ! This is a reminder of the need of the Christian to diligently study the Scriptures to ascertain that all these things we hear in preaching are true. Our Lord is the Light of the World. Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12) The Churches may have much truth, but without Light, they cannot understand it. We are to worship God in both Spirit AND Truth!

            Finally, the High Priest approaches the Most Holy Place. Only the High Priest could approach the Veil that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (once per year). Before the Veil stood the Altar of Incense. The burning and ascending smoke of the Incense represented our prayers being wafted up to Heaven as the High Priest interceded for our sins as well as his own. But the Veil was torn from top to bottom at the death of Christ. There is no longer a Veil of separation. And we no longer have a lowly High Priest such as the one of the Tabernacle to intercede for us in prayer. Why? Because Christ has become our High Priest, Intercessor, and Advocate before the Father. Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec(Hebrews 5:10)

            Behind the Veil was the Ark of the covenant containing the Commandments of God. Since God can tolerate no sin whatsoever in His Heaven, these must be obeyed in order to enter. However, above the Ark of the Covenant is the Mercy Seat which also represents Christ as our Redeemer and Savior. The penalty for sin being death, our sin-debt has been paid and wiped clean by the sprinkling of the blood of Christ. Mercy trumps Law!

            My friends, this was merely a short summary of the ways in which the Tabernacle are a portrait of Christ, and a true one. But there is much, much more that remains to be said which exceeds the scope of a mere devotion. There is one thing, however, that I would like to stress at this point of closing: Though the Tabernacle was furnished with fine liens, plate gold, and brass on the inside – and was beautiful in its interior; it was nothing to boast about on its external appearance. In fact, it was covered in coarse goat-hair. This represents the treasures of the hidden heart compared with any superficial or external appearances of man. In fact, Christ Himself was a man of common appearance and nothing of particular attraction to endear Him to the outward values of the world. For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him(Isaiah 53:2) Even in this feature, too, the Tabernacle was a perfect portrait of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Nicene Creed - STATEMENT OF FAITH




The Nicene Creed is the concise statement of belief for Christians in all regions and denominations.  If you do not believe the Creed, you are not a Christian.  Simple.  So, what is it and what does it say?

The word Creed comes from the Latin word Credo, which means I believe.  The Creed as adopted by the Church at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD and modified at the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD reads:

I
 BELIEVE in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible: And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made man: And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried: And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father: And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the Prophets: And I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church: I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins: And I look for the Resurrection of the dead: And the Life of the world to come. Amen.

How did it come about?
The Nicene Creed is also called the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, because the complete present form of the creed was defined by over three hundred bishops, representing the entire Christian church at the time, both East and West, including three from the Britannic Isles, in both Nicaea (325AD) and Constantinople (381AD). Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians all accept the ancient Nicene Creed. The Nicene Creed was written in 325AD and completed in its present form in 381AD.  The Creed started as a response to the Arian heresy that denied Jesus was fully God. The Nicene Creed is about the Trinity, and recounts the historical realities of Jesus' life. The creed is a summary of the concepts and truths found in Scripture. 

Here is the Creed broken down line by line with explanations.

I believe in one God

The Greek, Latin and proper English translations begin with "I" believe, because reciting the creed is an individual expression of belief.  Some “contemporary” translations use “we” in an attempt to moderate the Creed.  The creed states the assumption of the ancient Shema: Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.  

the Father Almighty

Jesus frequently calls God "Father" in the Scriptures, and this usage tells us God is a loving God active within His creation. God the Father is the first person (Greek hypostasis, "individual reality"), or distinction, within the Godhead. The Father is the "origin" or "source" of the Trinity.  From Him, came somehow the other two.  God the Father is often called "God Unbegotten" in early Christian thought.

Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible:

If you are a Christian you must believe God created the entire universe, those visible and those invisible. Everything that is was created by God. Some early sects, the Gnostics and Marcionites, believed that God the Father created the spirit world, but that an "evil" god (called the demiurge) created the similarly evil material world.  No.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,

Jesus Christ is the Lord of all. The title Lord has connotations of deity, since the Hebrew word adonai and Greek word kyrios (both meaning Lord) were applied to Yahweh in the Old Testament. Jesus is Lord and Master of all this creation.  No tyrant, Jesus is Lord, teacher, counselor, friend and servant.

the only-begotten Son of God

Jesus is in a unique relationship with God the Father, His only Son.  While Hebrew kings were sons of God symbolically, Jesus is the only Son of God by nature.

Begotten of his Father before all worlds

Begotten has the meaning of born, generated, or produced. God the Son is out of the essence of God the Father. Just as a child shares the same humanness as his or her parents, the Son shares the essential nature of God with the Father. Since God is eternal, the Son, being begotten of God, is also eternal. The Son is often called the Only-Begotten God in early Christian literature.  Jesus was begotten of the Father before this world came into being and was present at its creation.

God of God, Light of Light

God the Son exists in relation to God the Father. The Son is not the Father, but they both are God. Just as a torch is lit one to another, the Father and Son are distinct, but both light to the world.  Add in the Holy Ghost.  Three in one.  One of three.  Not one, three, yet one.   Scriptures have all three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in action at the same time at Jesus' baptism.  Scripture has the Father and Son as two as well as one. In John's gospel, the Father and Son testify as two witnesses, not one (John 8:17-18). Related to this, St. Athanasius, writing during the Nicene era, said that the Father and Son are one as "the sight of two eyes is one," probably the best analogy.  Another analogy is the musical C-chord. The C, E, and G notes are all distinct notes, but joined together as one chord, the sound is richer and more dynamic than had the notes been played individually. The chords are all equally important in producing the full, dynamic, sound of the chord, but the sound is lacking and thin if one of the notes is left out.

Very God of very God

God the Son is fully and utterly God, distinct but not separate from the Father. The ancient Arians believed that Jesus could be called god but not true God. In other words, they believed the Logos (the "Word," a popular title for Jesus in early Christian literature) was the first creation of God, necessary to mediate between the unknowable distant God (a concept borrowed from Platonic thought) and creation. Because God knew that the Logos would be perfect, the title god could be bestowed upon the Son "by participation," but "true God" was a title reserved only for the unknowable Father. This is the Ante-Nicene "Logos Theology" of St. Justin and Athenagoras taken to an unintended extreme.

Begotten, not made

Some today (Jehovah's Witnesses) and in the past (Arians) have suggested God created Jesus like God would an angel. The creed tells us that just as when a woman gives birth she does not create a child out of nothing, being begotten of God, the Son is not created out of nothing. Since the Son's creation from the Father occurred before time was created, begotten refers to a permanent relationship as opposed to an event within time.

Being of one substance with the Father 

Father and Son share the same substance or essence of divinity. That is, the Father and Son both share the qualities and essential nature that make one in reality God. However, sharing the same substance does not mean they share identity of person. While certainly an inadequate example, think of three humans: they share a common nature, the essential qualities and essence of humanity, but are not the same person (although unlike the persons of the Trinity, humans do not share one will).

By whom all things were made

Through The Son, as Word of God, all things have been created. As Logos, the Son is the agent and artificer of creation.

Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven

Jesus came from heaven, from a reality other than our own. While the creed says "down," it is important to remember that our language is limited by our very narrow view of the time space continuum. Heaven is may or may not be "up," just as God may or may not be a biologically male father.  This is the best we can do within our limits.

And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made man

God the Son became incarnate in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. He was born of a virgin through the Holy Ghost. God truly became human in Jesus Christ.  Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth was and is a real human being, not simply a spirit or ghost. The incarnation of God in Christ is the ultimate act of love, because rather than sending an angel or good human to accomplish the redemption and restoration of creation, God Himself became human.

And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried

Jesus died on a cross, suffered as humans do, truly died, and was laid in a tomb. The Nicene Creed is more than just metaphysicalspeculation and includes important historical details. Notice that in addition to being "true God from true God," Jesus is fully human as well. The early Docetists, named from the Greek word dokeo, "to seem," believed Jesus only seemed to be human, but was not, and simply went through the motions of being human. Thus, when Jesus ate, they said, he only pretended to eat. Docetism was a very early heresy, addressed by the Gospel and Letters of St. John, as well as in St. Ignatius' letters in AD 110 AD.

And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures

Jesus was resurrected bodily as the Scriptures say. Just as Jesus truly died, he truly rose from the dead three days later. The bodily resurrection is the keystone of Christian doctrine and experience. However, Jesus was not just physically resuscitated (as was Lazarus), but rather his body was transformed at the resurrection. Rejection of the bodily resurrection is a rejection of the foundation of Christianity.

And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father:

Jesus left this world after His resurrection in a manner likened to a Saturn V launch.  In ancient science, heaven was thought to be above the sky (notice how on a starry night the sky looks like a dome that one could pierce through, if one could get that high).   In the Scriptures, Jesus is said to ascend to heaven. Whatever happened that day, Luke had to render the event into his own scientific paradigm, so he said Jesus "went up" to heaven. Again, we are limited by our language and own time space experience.  Jesus is at the right hand of the Father, i.e. sharing authority with the Father, and not just literally sitting next to the Father.

And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.

Jesus will come again to judge both the living and dead. His kingdom will not be destroyed, despite all of humanity's efforts.  Jesus, like God the Father, is timeless.  He is, was and always will be.  Likewise His Kingdom.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, and Giver of Life

The Holy Ghost is the “breath” God breathed to give life to the world in Genesis.  His light illuminates our path after our birth as Paul’s New Man in Christ.  The original Nicene Creed of 325AD ended right here with the Holy Ghost.  The remainder of the Creed was approved at the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD. However, most scholars believe that the text of the full creed dates prior to this council, and that the bishops simply gave their approval to a local creed already in use. The reason these additions were included in the Nicene Creed is that some 4th century Christians denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit. The names given to these heretics were Macedonians (named after a heretical bishop) or pneumatomachi ("fighters against the Spirit").

Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son

The Son is said to be begotten, while the Spirit is said to proceed. Both words convey that the Son and Spirit are in special relationships to the Father, yet also fully divine. 

Filoque Clause - the phrase "and the Son," in Latin, filioque, was not in the original text of the creed, but was added in Western Churches over time as a tool against Arians in the Gothic lands. There are theological and historical justifications for the addition or exclusion of the filioque. The Eastern Churches oppose the addition of the filioque, while Western churches accept it. Actually, despite current division on the matter, the issue has been pretty much theologically resolved. The Western Church acknowledges that the Father is the sole source within the Trinity, and admits that "proceeds from the Father and the Son" means "proceeds from the Father through the Son." The Western Church also acknowledge the procession through the Son is not metaphysical, but economic (i. e. describing the Spirit's actions). Also, Eastern Catholics (those Eastern Churches in communion with Rome) do not say the filioque, and remain in full communion with the Western Church. The Eastern Orthodox Churches seem willing to allow the interpretation "through the Son," because it seemingly destroys the monarchy of the Father within the Holy Trinity. The filioque remains a major division between Eastern and Western Christianity, mainly because the Western Church added the filioque to the Nicene Creed without Eastern input.  Much ado about nothing.

Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified

The Holy Spirit is God as are the Father and the Son, and is due the same worship as the Father and the Son.

Who spake by the Prophets

As the Holy Ghost gives us insight and understanding today, so it is believed He gave the same to the Old Testament prophets.

And I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church

The creed affirms the belief in the Catholic (universal) Church, whose origins are ancient and historical, going back to the Apostles themselves.  This is the universal church tracing its ancestry, roots and beliefs back to the apostles themselves.  The ordained ministry claims an Apostolic Succession, wherein apostles appointed leaders, who themselves appointed new leaders to replace them, a process continuing to this day.  Many churches claim this Apostolic Succession, however much of the so-called Apostolic Succession appears to be more properly termed Apostate Succession. Apostolic Succession is only valid with valid spiritual successors.  Many lay their claim to Apostolic Succession based on a theological succession of adherence to the Word, rather than a pedigree of hand to hand contact, many a hand of which could be correctly said was at best misguided.

The claim to literal Apostolic line today is found primarily in the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

It should also be pointed out that deacons, priests and bishops do not have special powers.  What they have are special responsibilities that are given to them along with their title.  If they carry out those particular special responsibilities in the proper manner, they will achieve extraordinary results.  An awesome responsibility and challenge that, if accepted and met, produces awesome results.  If not, they are just substandard men in black or purple shirts.

I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins

Baptism or initiation has often been called Christening and the name we are given there is our Christian name, our last name being our surname.  In Baptism, our life is dedicated to Christ.  Hence the term Christening.  Christians believe through the waters of baptism, God forgives us of our sins, and we are born again. This belief in baptism's saving power is ancient and universally acknowledged in the early Christian writings.  If someone has been validly baptized in the name of the Trinity, then baptism has definitely "taken" and re-baptism is unnecessary.

And the Life of the world to come

The end of the Creed addresses the end of life here on earth and talks about the world to come.  Christians have the promise of a bodily resurrection with a new and glorified physical body from Christ.  The Creed affirms that bodily resurrection, as promised by Christ.  Heaven is a place to look forward to, not to fear.  Christ describes the experience of this world as “looking darkly, as through a glass.”  This came from the time when “glass” was translucent, rather than transparent.  CS Lewis describes Earth as The Shadowlands, in comparison to the reality of heaven.  We are not sure what to expect in heaven, except He will see us their tonight and we will not be disappointed.

Amen

So be it.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
What it really means is that everyone is imperfect.  The only way to get in to heaven it to be accounted as perfect.  God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to provide a way for us to be accounted as perfect.  We will not attain perfection here on earth, but if we believe on Him and act on those beliefs, we will be accounted as perfect, get in to heaven, have eternal life.  The eternal life starts right now and our life here on earth will be better than if we did not follow Him.  The handbook for all this is the Holy Bible, the most accurate version currently available is the King James or Authorized Version.

Christianity is not a solitary religion, it is based on a body of believers acting together, supporting each other.  It is a religion that requires not just diction, but action.  A religion that provides eternal life for free, but requires you to live the life you have been given.


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Bishop’s Lenten Letter for 26 February 2020, Anno Domini

E-mail: usa@anglicanorthodoxchurch.org • standrews.church@gmail.com Pho 704-873-8365


Bishop’s Lenten Letter for 26 February 2020, Anno Domini

LENTEN SEASON

The first day of Lent, commonly called
Ash Wednesday.
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be said every day in Lent, after the Collect appointed for the day, until Palm Sunday.

            ASH Wednesday is a time of deep reflection on the price with which we were bought out of condemnation by our Lord Jesus Christ as well as the penitence we should feel toward our sins and transgressions that compelled our Lord, through LOVE, to the Cross.

            The Observance of Ash Wednesday has nothing to do with the superficial application of ashes to the forehead of the Roman invention, but the symbolic application of ashes to the heart. It should never be made into an outward display of piety and fasting for all to see, but an inward sense of deep gratitude for that redemption made available by the grace of God, and an equal sense of the enormity of past sins we have committed.

            The Romish custom of application of ashes on the forehead to announce to the world our proud penitence is to be avoided as a fool’s superstition. Our Lord was quite clear on this point, and would we not always accept the Words of Holy Writ over and above those of the unholy traditions of men: 16  Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their facesthat they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17  But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face18  That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly(Matthew 6:16-18)

With what part of the Lord’s counsel do you dare disagree? Too many churches among the Protestant Faith, have fallen for this ruse of Rome. Penitence is an inherent quality of the heart and not of the outward, cosmetic appearance.

            This ASH Wednesday, let us remember, as individuals, the chains of sin from whence we have been purchased by the precious and redeeming blood of our Passover Lamb – the Lord Jesus Christ, and that purchase be all of GRACE. And then let us remember the deplorable condition to which the mainstream churches have fallen. Pray for their repentance and restoration. At last, let us pray for our respective nations that the Law of God would be elevated above every law of man. Let us pray for a return to the great truths uncovered, at great sacrifice, during the English and Continental Reformation – that instead of deformation we might enjoy the fruits of the REFORMATION of true religion and piety of those great Christian professors who were willing to go to the stake of burning rather than renounce a single Word or Line of Holy Scripture.

            God bless us as a people, as a Church, and as a nation devoted to our Lord Jesus Christ.

In Christ,

Anglican Orthodox Church Worldwide







Jerry L. Ogles, Presiding Bishop

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Hymns of the Church – It is Well with My Soul – 25 February 2020, Anno Domini



Many of us have need of God’s guidance to let our souls accept the peace of our Lord Jesus that is freely given us, yet we have a hard time accepting.   Each of us has a tendency, some more some less, to believe our actions are primary to the outcome of our lives.  To some extent this is true, Jesus call us to action, not mere diction.  But we need to recognize where our duty to act ends and our duty to trust begins.  This hymn more than any other with which I am familiar makes that point.  The tune is Ville du Havre, from the name of the stricken vessel, by Phillip Bliss.

The writer Horatio Spafford experienced the action trust dilemma as much as anyone can do.  He was a prominent Chicago attorney and real estate investor in the late 1800s. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 ruined him financially, as most of his holdings were destroyed.  His business interests were further hit by the economic downturn of 1873, at which time he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the SS Ville du Havre. In a late change of plan, he sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business concerning zoning problems following the Great Chicago Fire. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with another vessel, Loch Earn, with a loss or 226 people including all four of Spafford's daughters. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone …".

As Spafford sailed to England to join his wife following the accident, he wrote It Is Well With My Soul – crossing the ocean where he’d just lost his daughters and probably passing near the same area.

The Spaffords later had three more children; their son, Horatio Goertner Spafford, died at the age of four, of scarlet fever. Their daughters were Bertha Hedges Spafford and Grace Spafford. In 1881, the Spaffords, including baby Bertha and newborn Grace, set sail for Ottoman-Turkish Palestine. The Spaffords settled in Jerusalem and helped found a group called the American Colony. Colony members, later joined by Swedish Christians, engaged in philanthropic work among the people of Jerusalem regardless of their religious affiliation and without proselytizing motives—thereby gaining the trust of the local Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities. During and immediately after World War I, the American Colony played a critical role in supporting these communities through the great suffering and deprivations by running soup kitchens, hospitals, orphanages and other charitable ventures. Horatio Spafford died from malaria days before his 60th birthday.

No matter what our current state, Horatio Spafford gently prods us to remember all that is really important is that it is well with my soul.  No matter the slings and arrows of this life, there is nothing, nothing that matters compared to the fact that with our Lord’s gift of grace and help, it is well with my soul.  When you read or hear the hymn, think of the picture painted in those words.  Put your trust in God as you hear…

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
Refrain

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
Refrain

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
Refrain

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
Refrain

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Walk through the hymn slowly.  

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

No matter, peace or turmoil, with God in our hearts, it will be well with our soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

No matter the trials and tribulations of this world, take full assurance that our Lord knows our hopelessness and helplessness and has shed His very own blood that it might be well with our soul.

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

We are accounted as perfect, not in part, but in whole.   Not setting aside some of our sin, but every last bit. It is nailed firmly to the Cross from where it cannot leave.   It is separated from us.  Thanks be to God!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

We live in Christ for ever more.  No matter if the River Jordan is over us or we over it, we live none the less, no fear of what others might believe to be death.  For us there is only life and peace in our soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

While we wait here on earth for the end of our time, ours or that of the earth matter not to us.  For our end is never ending in heaven, not the Pit or the grave.  We look to the trumpet blast of the angels, not the deathly quiet of the grave.

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

We look forward with great expectation for that day we see heaven and not just think about it.  We look forward to the clouded vision clearing to brightness and the sights and sounds of our Lord.

Until then:

It is well with my soul!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

AOC Sunday Report - Quinquagesima Sunday


Happy Quinquagesima Sunday!  Don't have clue what that means?  Read the AOC Sunday Report which can be downloaded RIGHT HERE!

There is a great sermon today from Rev Jack, everyone else is the on travel; you can find out where in the very same report.

There are a lot of people who need your prayer, start with Bob and Shamu and work out from there!

There is a super week ahead, there always is; just like last week, you won't find it without the help of the Holy Ghost.

Godspeed,

Hap
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, California

Quinquagesima Sunday


Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 


Consider these words from the Collect:

… that all our doings without charity are nothing worth; Send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity …

In the Collect, we acknowledge to God that if we have not charity, nothing we do is worth anything; we then ask Him to send the Holy Ghost into our hearts with the precious gift of charity.  Webster tells us that Charity is love; universal benevolence; good will; the word which properly denotes love. What it really means is Love in Action! Like many areas of our Christian development, we will never fully get there. But if we never try to put Love into action we will never even get close to getting there. The key word is in action. Meaning we just can’t think about loving people, we actually have to go out and do actions showing that we really do love them, not just say it. This is the common theme of the principles of Christian living. In order to make progress, we have to continually put these principles, namely charity or love, into practice each and every day. We may not do it perfectly, but we shall make progress so long as we do not give up! As Winston Churchhill once said “Never, never, never, never EVER GIVE UP”.  So, should we never give up in our Christian development. We may stumble and fall at times, but if we get up and keep going and return to our Lord, then all will be well in time.[1]  It might be slow going, but as long as the progress is constant, that is all that matters. Properly understood charity is the Love of God, that perfect love, to which man should aspire. Charity is not giving oodles of money away to an organization, hoping to make yourself look better, like many modern “philanthropists.” 

Charity is the purest form of love there is, with no selfishness, just the goodness of God in it; this is the love that God gives to us to give to others. This is the strength of the Christian faith. This is what powered Jesus to sacrifice Himself one time for all time for us pitiful sinners, that we might have eternal life. He loved us, He had that purest form of love and used it each and every day in His Earthly Ministry and even after He departed this Earth, sending the Holy Ghost down to give his comfort and guidance. The collect points out it is the very bond of peace and of all virtues. Love is behind all virtuous qualities that can be found in people though the help of the Holy Ghost. It is behind the peace that only God can bestow upon us.  

God has given us love to enable us to act on His behalf here on this Earth. Love is not selfish or wasteful, but kind and abundant. We are to be agents of good change, not bad; with Charity, we will act with love towards one another.  If we do not have love in our hearts towards one another, how can we expect to be able to effect positive change on the world around us?

In connection with the Collect which talks about one who is brought before God without love in his heart is a dead person. Paul makes this very point in his Epistle, saying that no matter what talents we have, without the Love of God in our hearts, it is all for naught.  We cannot do anything for God without that Love in our hearts. We must have the Love in us, brought to us by the Holy Spirit, in order to be effective in our ministerial efforts. He is the reason we are here in this life and He is the one we must act for.   It must be clear to us that our understanding here on earth is limited, while here we will never see the fullness of God’s Plan, yet the part most clear is the love we are to have one for another, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, for no reason other than we know it is right so to do. 

Having Love in our hearts is a must if we are to perform actions for Him here on this world. In order to have love in our hearts, we must be open to the Holy Spirit. Only then can we truly receive His Love to spread around. And do not fret, there is an unlimited supply of love for everyone. When Paul talks about God’s great plans, he uses the phraseology “through a glass, darkly”, which is very interesting inasmuch as CS Lewis uses a variation to describe earth as compared to heaven.  He calls the earth The Shadowlands and says in heaven all is clear and bright, not dark and muddled as here on earth.  So, here our understanding is limited, it will not always be so. That will be fulfilled when we pass those Pearly Gates into heaven, and in order to do that, we have to have faith, and act in good works with charity. 

As they were coming in to Jericho, Jesus told the disciples of what was to come, yet they could not grasp their leader would submit to such treatment on their behalf.  He was the Conqueror; in a sense they were right, He came to conquer death for us, not the Roman Empire. He had the Love of God with Him and He loved us so much that He would die a painful method of execution and go into Satan’s realm in order to free us from the terrible wages of sin, that of death. As they went along, they encountered the blind man who was, like many of us are, blind.  His blindness was of the eye, not the heart, he knew the power of God and of love. The blind man who wanted his sight and knew Jesus had The Power.  He cried unto the Lord and was rebuffed by His People. This is the key and it applies to us as well. Did he give up?  No, he cried the more.  As we should not let others discourage us from following the Lord, indeed we should increase our prayers and serving fervently.  Knowing what we want, we should not let others in this life rebuff us and hinder us from following Him. This is one of many lessons we can take from the blind man.

When Jesus heard him, he turned and asked what the man wanted.  MY SIGHT!  No generalizations, no beating about.  The blind man asked of Him what he truly wanted.  Ask and it shall be given unto you.  He lacked sight, not vision.  Nor, it might be added, did he lack faith. We should ask God to have to sight and hearing that we might see, hear and act upon the Word. To some, the faith he had might seem a blind faith, but it was one he acted on and gained what he lacked.  Will we have the faith to act?

True love is Faith, Hope, Charity[2].

There is but one way to heaven.

That easy to find, easy to follow, easy to hike path does not lead to the summit where eternal life in the real world awaits.  Open your heart to the Holy Ghost, use His Power to follow our Lord to God who awaits in heaven.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God


[1] To quote Winston Churchill, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”  (29 October 1941)
[2] The three Gloster Gladiator fighters FaithHope and Charity defended Malta against the Italian Air Force during the early part of the siege of Malta in World War II.  Legend has it all three persisted and of the three, Charity never failed.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Lord’s Prayer – 20 February 2020, Anno Domini



- Rev LTC Hap Arnold

We say the Lord’s Prayer often, probably more often than we say any other single prayer. Rightly so, for when His disciples asked him how to pray, our Lord said, "After this manner therefore pray ye:"

O
UR Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Our Father
The original word used, Abba, is not the most formal word for father in Hebrew. It is the talk of a child, containing all the nearness, affection and love with which a child addresses their father. Jesus taught us to address God in such familiar terms. We should approach God in the familiar confident way a child approaches a loving parent.

who art in heaven
"Who art in heaven" does not signify a remoteness for God. It signifies where God is, there is heaven.

Hallowed be thy Name 
Before we get to anything else, we need to acknowledge the singular position of God in His universe. Only after that we should think about our daily needs, our problems and our feelings. This is a clear God is not only our Father, but also holy and one who is to be honored for all He has done in us and the world around us that still leaves us speechless and not understanding its complexity.

Thy kingdom come
We pray that His kingdom, already existent, will come here. Jesus already in us will be manifest here on earth. When God’s kingdom comes, it will come on his terms and not ours. It will come when He decides and not when we THINK it should come based on some baboonish idea of what we think God is thinking – how self-righteous is that?

Ultimately, God’s will is going to be done. This portion of the prayer should make us realize we need to put our eyes on the proper point in the horizon and pull away from all of the inconsequential stuff that humans believe is so important to make a “kingdom” on earth.

Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
When His kingdom has come here, His will shall be done on earth as it is already in heaven. In the meantime, we need to do His will here, regardless of the state of affairs or the cost to us. When we pray God’s will be done, we are praying our opposition to God be broken and that we be united with the Supreme - God’s name, kingdom and will.

Give us this day our daily bread.
We are praying to God to take care of us; and that we will not be condemned to depend only on our meager resources.

God wants us to have our eyes on heaven, he also wants us to ask and know that God will not forget our day to day struggles, those that need both food for the body and food for the soul. This life sucks a lot out of us and God can replenish that as well, if we just ask.

Bread does not just mean the most commonplace and matter-of-fact things, we are also praying for those physical, human and spiritual gifts that sustain us.

And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us.

We ask God to forgive us as we forgive the errors of other humans. This is a powerful reminder to be forgiving of others.

And lead us not into temptation
While God does not tempt us nor try us, He does watch how we do under adverse conditions. This particular line is a prayer that He will protect us from our own follies. There is another translation that uses the phrase, “Save us from the time of trial.” Temptations are a form of a trial; just as Jesus was in the desert for 40 days and nights going through trials and temptations. As always, God was in control, but the ‘evil one’ was doing the tempting. God knew Jesus would pass. The same goes for us, His children. There is no trial beyond our ability to handle, with God’s help. Without it there is little adversity we can , we will fail.

But deliver us from evil.
We pray for ourselves, others and the world. The prince of this world has caused unbelievable suffering through his followers, concentration camps, mass murder, individual evils beyond description. We do not exclude any of these when we beseech God to deliver us and other human beings from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.
The prayer closes with an acknowledgement of God primacy over all for all time. All is His, what is “ours” is only temporary.

Amen.
So be it.