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  • Mrs Chakotay 4:40 pm on November 24, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , liturgy, , ,   

    First Sunday of Advent 

    advent1

    Psalms: Psalm 122
    OT: Isaiah 2:1-5
    Gospel: Matthew 24:36-44
    Epistles: Romans 13:11-14

    The Psalm for today was 122, “I was glad when they said to me, let us go to the house of the Lord.”

    I was unable to go to church this Sunday because, in addition to my own health issues, I am now looking after my mother who suffers from bipolar disorder.

    My mother always becomes anxious, tearful, angry as Sunday rolls around. Having grown up in what was effectively a very abusive religious home, she is deeply conflicted about church. She wants to be there, she yearns for community, but it is tainted by the memory of forced religion.

    I, meanwhile, would love to be there but my health more often than not prevents me, and I am constantly angry at the way the church neglects us, rejects us, forgets us.

    I saw this poem on a facebook group and decided to share it because the words are so close to my own heart.

    How baffling you are, oh Church,
    and yet how I love you!
    How you have made me suffer,
    and yet how much I owe you!
    I would like to see you destroyed,
    and yet I need your presence.
    You have given me so much scandal
    and yet you have made me understand what sanctity is.
    I have seen nothing in the world
    more devoted to obscurity, more compromised, more false,
    and yet I have touched nothing
    more pure, more generous, more beautiful.
    How often I have wanted to shut the doors of my soul in your face,
    and how often I have prayed to die in the safety of your arms.
    No, I cannot free myself from you,
    because I am you, though not completely.
    And besides, where would I go?
    Would I establish another?
    I would not be able to establish it without the same faults,
    for they are the same faults I carry in me.
    And if I did establish another,
    it would be my Church, not the Church of Christ.
    And I am old enough to know
    that I am no better than anyone else.

    – by Carlo Carretto, from The God Who Comes

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  • Mrs Chakotay 3:23 pm on February 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , liturgy, Michael Card, ,   

    First Sunday of Lent 

    I am running a week behind now, as life has got in the way. Around a couple of weeks of a roller-coaster of looking after a very poorly, elderly dog, we had to have him put down last night. So right now I am feeling a little bit overwhelmed with grief . The next couple of posts will be short and I may take a break, depending on how I feel. (I may do the opposite and throw myself into blogging as a distraction, I just don’t know.)


    Psalms/ Canticles: Psalm 91:1-2, 9-end or 1:11
    OT Reading: Deuteronomy 26:1-11
    NT Reading: Romans 10:8b-13
    Gospel: Luke 4:1-13


    We jump back in the narrative again now, as we enter the traditional church season of Lent and follow Jesus through his 40 days in the wilderness, fasting and praying and being tempted by the devil.

    The short passage in Romans quotes Deuteronomy 30:14 which tells us that “the Word is near – in our hearts and on our lips”, and states that we must both believe and confess.

    When I first joined the Anglican church five years ago I was very impressed by the liturgy which even in its modern form is thoroughly Biblical, and which seemed like a solid buttress against strange teaching and error; and yet it began to dawn on me that despite repeating the liturgy every week, it was no guarantee that the words the congregation were speaking were actually believed by the speakers (or even the clergy).

    This passage tells us that confession isn’t enough – belief is required as well (and when you look into the meaning of the Greek verb to believe and the Hebrew word behind it, you see that such belief must not merely be mental assent but a living, active, obedient faith, which is consistent with the whole ‘counsel of scripture’ – see for example the passage starting at Matthew 25:35).

    In Pentecostal circles, the spoken word of confession and affirmation is on the other hand considered very powerful indeed – in a sense carrying the same innate power of creation “calling that which is not into being” that God used at the creation of the World, a belief that teachers like Joel Osteen may possibly take too literally – but of course in the Gospel passage, the way Jesus battles with the devil is through the Word of God which he quotes in answer to every temptation.


    I’ll be honest and say that I’m not even sure that I have made the points I wanted to here, and I haven’t really covered the passages properly, but I’m going to have to leave it there as I don’t think I’m going to be able to make any more sense than this at this time.

    If you can’t get hold of it, find a copy of Michael Card’s excellent album the Ancient Faith trilogy (on two CDs), which includes a lovely song called “The Word is so near”. I couldn’t find that particular song, but I’ll leave you with a youtube playlist of songs from the album. (Actually that song is in the playlist, but only an instrumental piano version – if you can seek out the original, it’s worth finding.)

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 1:59 pm on January 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , liturgy, Luke, , , , Year of the LORD's Favour   

    Septuagesima / Third Sunday of Epiphany 

    Canticles & Psalms: Psalm 19
    OT Reading: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
    NT Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
    Gospel: Luke 4:14-21

    In this passage in the gospel, Jesus is quoting a passage in Isaiah 61 – declaring it to be a prophecy fulfilled in himself.

    It is so interesting to me that this passage which occurs in the lectionary of the Anglican church should have come up at the Pentecostal church I attended last week (and I have already written about it here.) I don’t suppose there are many ‘Messianic Anglican Pentecostals’ around, so perhaps this is a repetition and a reminder intended just for me, who knows 🙂

    What is also terribly interesting about this passage though, is that the passage in Isaiah is a ‘Haftarah’ portion (a section from the Prophets which is traditionally read after the Torah and usually refers back to, and brings to remembrance a specific section from the Torah) which seems to have been deliberately removed from the Jewish liturgy specifically because it was claimed and quoted by Jesus. (See also a list of Messianic passages from the prophets which are likewise excluded from Jewish liturgy for being obviously connected to Jesus here.)

    So what was the Torah portion in question? I read a suggestion once that it was referring back to the section in Exodus 3 where God reveals himself to Moses as “I AM” – in other words, the claim being that, in reading this Haftarah passage, Jesus was drawing attention to His divinity, which the audience would have recognised. However, that portion (Shemot) is traditionally connected to Isaiah 27-28, and there is no evidence for such a claim that I can find. Since this New Testament passage seems to be the first historical evidence of Haftarah portions being read in the synagogue, it would seem to be almost impossible to determine which Torah portion it might originally have referred to, if indeed it was actually connected to a Torah portion (although the connection between Jesus’ mission and Moses’, which was to bring about an end to slavery, is certainly fascinating). Is it a compelling connection that Jesus’ audience in the synagogue would have recognised? I don’t know. But it is interesting that when they commend Him and say how wonderful His words are, that Jesus turns on them, telling them that they will soon change their minds about him, because “No prophet is accepted in his home town.” – Luke 4:24.

    The passage in Nehemiah recalls the time when Ezra opened up the Book of the Law (that is, the Torah – the Pentateuch, also called the Books of Moses) and read it aloud to the people, who cried with sorrow that they had not known the great and mighty deeds of the LORD, nor obeyed His commands.

    The passage in 1 Corinthians is on spiritual gifts – referring to the way in which we as the Body of Christ, must carry out Jesus’ Mission to preach good news to the poor, bind up the broken-hearted, proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisioners; in short: to proclaim the Year of the LORD’s favour – i.e., by the power and work of the Holy Spirit in us.

    The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
    The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
    The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
    More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
    Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” – Psalm 19:7-11 KJV

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 1:18 pm on January 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , collect, Common Worship, , ferment, , , , lectionary, liturgy, , priesthood, , , Tree of Life, , Wedding at Cana, wine, yeast   

    Second Sunday of Epiphany 

    The following are my scattered thoughts on the CW lectionary passages for the second Sunday of Epiphany, Year C, 17th January 2016. It is a Bible study rather than a sermon, but if anybody finds my notes of use in drawing up their own sermon, I would be very happy for you to make use of them. (Do let me know if you do!)


    Psalms/ Canticles: Psalms 36:5-10
    Old Testament: Isaiah 62:1-5
    New Testament: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
    Gospel Reading: John 2:1-11


    The Wedding at Cana is significant as Jesus’ first miracle and the inauguration of his ministry. But it can also be understood as representing two Covenants by the water and the wine, the wine signifying the New Covenant which is made between God, Judah and the whole house of Israel (that is, the Jewish people and all those whom God will call to himself).

    Jesus’ mother (John never refers to her name as Mary) may be understood as representing the Jewish people in general, and the Levitical priesthood in particular (she is a Levi by family bloodline) , whereas we are told in Hebrews 7 that Jesus’ priesthood is after the order of Melchizedek. She draws Jesus’ attention to the lack of wine and directs to servants to do whatever Jesus asks them to, and he tells them to fill the jars with water which he transforms into wine.

    Water is often significant in scripture and generally represents life, especially spiritual life, and may also be understood as representing the Torah, which in Judaism is referred to as ‘The Tree of Life’. In Messianic Jewish thought, Jesus is called the Tree of Life, or the Living Torah.

    So what is wine that it would be more desirable and preferable to life itself? Well, the Hebrew word for wine is yayin (Strong’s Hebrew word no. 3196) from an unused root yayanto ferment or to effervesce, and so the wine may be understood as containing good yeast, that is, the Holy Spirit.

    If we look back to the first explicit mention of the New Covenant, in Jeremiah 31:31-34, it is a Covenant in which God will write the law (the Torah) on people’s hearts. This can only be accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit.

    It is interesting that Jesus tells his mother in response, “My hour is not yet come.” Does he mean that it is too early for his ministry to start? Or is it perhaps referring to the fact that the New Covenant cannot be fully inaugurated yet, not until the coming of the Holy Spirit, after his death?


    The passage in Isaiah is a very beautiful passage, of obvious Messianic significance (and by Messianic I mean both pertaining to Jewish believers and relating to the Messiah) but I’m not entirely sure why that particular passage was selected as I’m not immediately seeing the connection. If anybody has any ideas on this, I would be interested!

    The New Testament passage in 1 Corinthians relates to spiritual gifts which the Holy Spirit imparts to the church.

    The passage from Psalm 36 is on the topic of God’s love, but it refers to drinking from the ‘river of delights’,  the ‘fountain of life’, which can be seen to reflect the same topic of water as life, but here it is linked to the love of God.


    Collect: Almighty God, in Christ you make all things new; transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace, and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory:
    Through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord,
    Who is alive and reigns with you,
    in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

    Amen.

     

     
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