God & Sinners Reconciled!

Do you feel that there must be something more to Christmas than colored lights and consumerism?  Are you repelled by the appeal, “This holiday season, treat yourself to a new car!”  Are you looking for something real to address the anxieties, hopes, and fears of your life? Are you looking for a response to all of the distress in the world?  Are you dissatisfied the answers provided by the “sit coms” this year? On more than one episode cast members explain what Christmas is really about! Their answer is family gatherings and warm feelings. If all of these fall short, then look instead to the deeper meaning of Advent and the Christmas season. The Christmas carols in the mall can give you a clue, listen:

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!  Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by.  Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light.  The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

Everyone lives with hopes and fears.  Meanwhile, the power of God has been silently at work.  Once, two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, came a decisive moment.  God became human and lived among us.

Hark! the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King!  Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!

This is why Jesus was born, to reconnect humanity with the holy God, to heal the breach that our sins made between us. This truly is what Christmas is about!

Mild he lays his glory by, born than man no more may die.  Born to raise the sons of earth, born to given them second birth.

Forgiveness of sins, the promise of eternal life, these are real things, to which the Church looks forward in Advent, and which the Church celebrates at Christmas.  You are welcome to join us.  God’s gift is for all people and we want you to know about it.

Holy Family on their way to Bethleham 1st Advent 2015

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This day in history

We remember the brave men and women who sacrificed all on this day December 7, 1941. “This is not a drillnaval-dispatch

We remember an event and a world at war. We are grateful to all who responded to a call and gave their lives in defense of a nation and of the free world. May God bless the souls of all who lost their lives in that terrible conflict. To learn more about the “a date which will live in infamy” go to this page:

https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/december-07

History has more to show us on this day. This day may live in infamy (Pearl Harbor) but it is also a day to celebrate the life of St. Ambrose.  Ambrose was born around 340 A.D., son of the prefect of Gaul, a Roman province. He was afterwards made governor of the province of which Milan (Mediolanum) was the capital.  Milan was also the capital of the western Roman Empire at that time.  In 374, Auxentius, the bishop of Milan, died and there was a problem about naming his successor because (reportedly) Auxentius endorsed what is now called the Arian heresy.  The Arians believed that Jesus was not fully God.  Their opponents, along with the authors of the Nicene Creed (written fifty years earlier), held that Jesus was fully God.  The Arian and Nicene factions argued bitterly about who was right theologically and who should be next bishop of Milan.  Ambrose, in his role as governor, urged the two factions to keep the peace.  To his amazement, both factions decided that Ambrose himself should be the next bishop.  Their choice was particularly surprising because Ambrose had not yet been baptized, though he was studying Christianity.  Ambrose initially declined, but when the Roman emperor (Valens) supported the appointment, he gave in and was baptized, confirmed, and ordained in a single week.  He served as bishop of Milan for over twenty years, much beloved by the people.  He was a pioneer in writing hymns for use during religious liturgies.  He died in 397.

St. Ambrose 339-97, by Matthias Stomer, c. 1633-39 | The Core Curriculum

St. Ambrose 339-97, by Matthias Stomer, c. 1633-39

 

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Who is God? Part 11 (Our Progress to Date)

We are inquiring whether the claims of Christianity are true, and particularly whether Christians have a reliable account of God.

The first question was whether anything entitled to the title of God exists at all. Engaging in natural theology, we noted that the universe appears to have had a beginning and that it contains both physical laws governing matter and moral laws governing our conduct. All material things are subject to the physical laws; only humans appear to be subject to the moral laws. And only humans notice that the glory of the world, redeeming it somewhat from the curse of sin, evil, and death, is self-giving love of individuals. We speculated that if there is an all-powerful God who made the world and its laws, that God should be concerned about the struggle of love with sin, evil, and death.

We turned next to the Bible to see what it records about communications between God and human beings. Talking to Anaiah, a fictional interlocutor, we heard about the call of Abraham, in which God revealed a plan to bless all of humanity. The blessing would not come suddenly by magic, but through the patient obedience of one man and his descendants. The blessing would consist not in fame and fortune, but in the defeat of sin, evil, and death through unification with the holy, loving God. This may seem to be a mixed blessing in culture that exalts wealth and power, but surely we have seen enough to realize that the lives of the rich and powerful are not reliably happy. Thus our examination of Abraham produced this result: the writers of that part of the Bible understood the human condition and depicted God as addressing this condition in a loving way.

We then digressed a bit to inquire about the origin of evil in the world and saw that the beginning of the Book of Genesis appears to provide a rather sophisticated analysis of this problem. The story sets the reality of sin, evil, and death against a cosmic background where Adam and Eve were tempted by a spiritual enemy to disobey God. The story has legendary elements, but it speaks to a deep truth about the world: sin, evil, and death are realities that we cannot avoid. The only hope, it would seem, is to ally ourselves to a being who is untouched by these realities.

Our next installment will further explore the history of the Jewish people as recorded in the Bible to find out more about the character of God depicted there. After all, we can’t make a reasonable judgment about whether the God of the Bible exists until we know what that God is supposed to be like.

HuffPost Editor Likens Joseph and Mary to Palestinians — a ...

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Advent Season

What Happens Between Thanksgiving and Christmas? 

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the popular culture tells us to buy things.  The Church, by contrast, tells us to look for God coming in human flesh to save us from sin, evil, and death.  The name of the season in the popular culture is “Year-End Sale!”  The Church’s name is Advent, which means something important is coming.  The popular season is marked by anxiety:  Have I bought enough gifts to make my family and friends happy?  Will my packages be stolen from my front porch?  The Church’s celebration is marked by quiet expectation and self-examination:  Have I understood my need for God?  Am I prepared to welcome Him into my life?  The fruits of the popular “Christmas” season can be disappointment and debt.  The fruits of the Advent season can be peace and joy (as the Christmas carols promise).   

St. Barnabas invites you to join us for a Christian Advent so that, properly prepared, we can celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas starting on Christmas Day.  Our schedule for the first three Sundays of December remains as usual:  a spoken liturgy at 8:00 a.m., and a liturgy with music at 10:30 a.m.  The fourth Sunday of Lent is also Christmas Eve, so watch this space for more information about that.  On  December 24th at 10:30 a.m. we will observe a service of Lessons & Carols. This is beautiful service of Hymns and Scripture Lessons. Later on Christmas Eve we will have a family communion service at 5:00p.m. Much later, at 10:30pm we celebrate another communion service. On Christmas Day there will be a single service, a Christmas Day Mass at 10:00 am. Naturally,  Visitors are always welcome!

Yesterday, Sunday November 26th was the Sunday before Advent. We are anticipating the Advent Season this week and our prayers are: Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the will of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen. (collect for The Sunday next before Advent 1928 Book of Common Prayer)

Pewter Celtic Knot Advent Wreath

 

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Thanksgiving Day Eucharist

Join us tomorrow morning (Nov. 23, 2017) at 9:00 a.m. for a Thanksgiving Day Eucharist (that’s a double thanksgiving). Our service will be with Word, music, and Sacrament. This is a wonderful way to start in worship, but still leaving plenty of time for other festivities of the day!

White altar frontal

Here are a few reasons we might chose to do so:

Agricultural festivals are of great antiquity, and common to many religions. Among the Jews, the three pilgrimage feasts, Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles, each had agricultural significance. Medieval Christianity also developed a number of such observances, none of which, however, were incorporated into the Prayer Book.

Our own Thanksgiving Day finds its roots in observances begun by colonists in Massachusetts and Virginia, a tradition later taken up and extended to the whole of the new American nation by action of the Continental Congress.

The Prayer (Collect)

Almighty and gracious Father, we give thee thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we beseech thee, faithful stewards of thy great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

 

 

 

From: Lesser Feasts and Fasts (Kindle Locations 7848-7852). Church Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.

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Veterans Day – November 11, 2017

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We acknowledge the countless sacrifices made by our veterans for the sake of this country. Bless you all. The members of St. Barnabas Anglican Church.

 

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The Single/Double Procession of the Holy Spirit

For more than 1,000 years, the churches of the West and East have been united by their use of the Nicene Creed (more technically the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed), which was worked out at church councils at Nicaea and Constantinople in 325 and 381, respectively, and confirmed at the Council of Chalcedon in 451.  Around the year 600, however, some churches in the west began amending the part of the creed that talks about the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.  The original creed states (in Greek) that the Holy Spirit proceeds “from the Father.”  Some churches in the west amended this to say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father  and the Son.  This amendment was embodied in a single Latin word, filioque.  The “filioque clause” was accepted by the Roman church and became standard in the west by the year 1,000.  Ever since, it has been a point of controversy between western and eastern churches.

The Church Catechism: I Believe in the Holy Ghost Part III–The Filioque | - Diocese of the Mid West

Without fanfare, a group of Anglican and Orthodox scholars has been working on this issue, trying to find a basis for agreement, and it appears that they have done so.  Their published statement, “The Procession and Work of the Holy Spirit,” is only a few pages long and well worth study.  It concludes that the “filioque clause” can reasonably be omitted from the Creed.  The ACNA, of which St. Barnabas is a part, already recognizes that the “filioque clause” does not appear in the original Creed and its published liturgies contain the clause in brackets, indicating that it is optional.  The statement of the Anglican/Orthodox working group can be found here:

http://www.anglicancommunion.org/media/312561/the-procession-and-work-of-the-holy-spirit-dublin-agreed-statement.pdf

The statement has been submitted to governing authorities in both the Anglican and Orthodox churches for review and approval.  This may appear a small thing, but healing any breach existing among Christian churches is a good thing, if done in a spirit of discernment and seeking to understand God’s Word.

The Life-Giving Mystery of the Holy Trinity | St Austin and St Gregory, Margate, with St Anne ...

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All Saints Day Mass

This major festival of the church goes back to the 7th Century, when the ancient Roman Pantheon was re-dedicated as a church honoring the Virgin Mary and all Martyrs.  The original date was in May,  later moved to November 1.  The focus of All Saints Day (also called All Hallows Day) was on remembering the Christian dead.  From this grew up a collection of folk customs, particularly on the eve of All Saints Day (also called All Hallows Eve, or Hallows Even, or Hallowe’en), involving costumes, trick or treating, and carving pumpkins.  The folk holiday, which supports lucrative commerce in candy and costumes, is now more prominent in popular culture than All Saints Day itself, but the original meaning of All Saints Day remains:  to remember the Christian dead, especially martyrs who died for their faith.  St. Barnabas will celebrate All Saints Day this evening at 7:00 p.m.  All are welcome.

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Who is God? Part 10 (The Fall of Man)

Our dialogue with Anaiah, an educated Jew from the 500’s B.C., continues.

St. Barnabas Blog:  You were going to tell me a story about how the world, created by a good God, came to be a place where sin, evil, and death are found. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/76/Cole_Thomas_The_Garden_of_Eden_1828.jpg

Anaiah:  That’s right.  The story is found near the beginning of the book of Genesis.  After God has created a good world, as his final (one might say crowning) creation, he made man, male and female.  In those days, God and man spoke together.  And God gave man something precious:  a rule, one simple rule to follow. 

SBB:  What was the rule?

Anaiah:  There was a special tree in the garden where man lived, called the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  The simple rule was not to eat from that tree.  (Genesis 2:15-17)

SBB:  Why did God make that rule?

Anaiah:  Remember how we saw, in the case of Abraham, that God’s plan is to bind us to himself through obedience, submission, and sacrifice. This is another example of the same approach.  God made a good world for man to enjoy, but man’s glory was to obey, and God made this as easy as possible by giving him only one rule.

SBB:  The idea that man’s glory is to obey is somewhat counter-cultural in my own time.

Anaiah:  So I have seen.

SBB:  This story of Adam and Eve is well known to us, and we know that they did not obey God’s command.  How did this happen, if man was part of God’s good creation?  Does Adam’s disobedience reveal a flaw in creation?

Anaiah:  That is a very good question and it leads us into the most interesting part of the story.  “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made.”  (Genesis 3:1)  This introduces the pivotal figure of the serpent.  He asks the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden?’” 

SBB:  Who is this talking serpent?

Anaiah:  He represents Satan, a spiritual being who has rebelled from God and seeks to disrupt God’s creation and to destroy man (his name means “the adversary”).  His appearance puts the situation of Adam and Eve into a cosmic context.  He tempts Eve to eat from the forbidden tree and she in turn tempts Adam to do the same.  So Satan succeeds in getting mankind to disobey God, and this leads to the entry of sin, evil, and death into the world. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/In_the_Garden_of_Eden%2C_while_the_serpent_curls_around_the_tr_Wellcome_V0034184.jpg

SBB:  Is it important that the serpent is a spiritual adversary rather than just a particularly talkative creature in the garden?

Anaiah:  Yes, for this reason.  The physical world as God has made it is good throughout, as is mankind’s original nature.  Man’s nature is to make choices and take actions based on his physical surroundings.  In a good world with a good nature, it does seem puzzling that mankind would ever go astray.  Therefore it makes sense that the initial impetus for sin should come from outside that physical creation, from a spiritual being.  [Anaiah anticipates here an argument from St. Augustine summarized in the commentary on Genesis by R. R. Reno, Brazos Press, 2010, pp. 77-85.] 

SBB:  Doesn’t the story just push the origin of evil one stage farther back?  Has the story explained anything?  How did the serpent, or Satan, come to disobey? 

Anaiah:  Spiritual beings have the gift of free choice, not conditioned by physical surroundings.  It is perhaps mysterious that any creation of God would choose to turn against him, but in the case of Satan, such a choice would not suggest any defect in the physical universe that God has created.

SBB:  So are we just playthings of forces beyond our control?

Anaiah:  Here is a great mystery.  We are affected by spiritual forces that are beyond our control, but we play a crucial role in the universe because we are both spirit and body.  God has made us in some ways lower than the angels but he has crowned us with glory and honor by making us central to his plans.  Satan attacks us as tempter and adversary because he wants to disrupt God’s plans through us.

SBB:  So what you are saying is that sin, evil, and death came into the world because a spiritual being wishes to disrupt God’s plans, and that being knows that mankind is central to those plans?

Anaiah:  That is right. And now that sin, evil, and death are in the world, everything you and I do has cosmic significance.  We saw that already with Abraham and the promise that through him all people would be blessed.  

https://i2.wp.com/media.ldscdn.org/images/media-library/gospel-art/old-testament/garden-of-eden-clawson-art-37727-wallpaper.jpg

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We’re on Facebook!

While we have maintained a Facebook page for  many years, this site has always been our primary web portal. Postings and information are generated on this website  first  and then sent out  to our other social media platforms. Those who have  strong preferences for Facebook often think of that social media platform as our website. This weblog is our website , but the administrators of this site recognize the great popularity of Facebook. Here is a reminder of our Facebook location: https://www.facebook.com/St-Barnabas-Anglican-Church-Seattle-144043505636777/?ref=bookmarks

St. Barnabas our Patron saint – Evangelist & Preacher – Companion to St. Paul, faithful man of God .

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