The Annunciation of Our Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary

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March 25 marks the Church’s celebration of the Annunciation (an old word for “announcement”).  Here is the story from the Gospel of Luke:  In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David [that is, a descendant of King David].  The virgin’s name was Mary.  And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one  The Lord is with you.”  But she was much perplexed by his words and wondered what sort of greeting this might be.  The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And now, you will conceive in your womb and bar a son, and you will name him Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.  He will reign over the house of Judah forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”  The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.
Today’s feast commemorates how God made known to a young Jewish woman that she was to be the mother of his Son, and how Mary accepted her vocation with perfect conformity of will. It has been said, “God made us without us, and redeemed us without us, but cannot save us without us.” Mary’s assent to Gabriel’s message opened the way for God to accomplish the salvation of the world. It is for this reason that all generations are to call her “blessed.”

The Annunciation has been a major theme in Christian art, in both East and West. Innumerable sermons and poems have been composed about it. The term coined by Cyril of Alexandria for the Blessed Virgin, Theotokos (“ the God-bearer”), was affirmed by the General Council of Ephesus in 431.

Mary’s self-offering in response to God’s call has been compared to that of Abraham, the father of believers. Just as Abraham was called to be the father of the chosen people, and accepted his call, so Mary was called to be the mother of the faithful, the new Israel. She is God’s human agent in the mystery of the Incarnation. Her response to the angel, “Let it be to me according to your word,” is identical with the faith expressed in the prayer that Jesus taught, “Your will be done on earth as in heaven.” (See note.)

The Bible does not tell us precisely when Jesus was born, nor when the Annunciation took place.  The Church, celebrating Jesus’ birth on December 25, sensibly locates the Annunciation nine months earlier.
You may be thinking, “Cool!  The power of God at work!  The angel said that Jesus would be born, and so he was.  The angel said that he would be called Son of the Most High, and so he is.”  Come and join us in worshiping him.
Or you may be thinking, “Really?  Can such things happen?  Doesn’t science tell us that babies are not born in this miraculous way?”  Come and join us.  We had an interesting discussion just last week about how to reconcile the results of scientific inquiry with the information in the Bible.  That discussion continues and you are welcome to join it.  St. Barnabas is a place where you can ask questions and explore doubts.  God is not offended by questions.  Look at the story of the Annunciation again and recall Mary’s response to the angel’s miraculous visit.
Gerard Manley Hopkins, comparing Mary to the air we breathe, writes:
Wild air, world-mothering air . . .
Of her flesh he took flesh:
He does take fresh and fresh,
Though much the mystery how,
Not flesh but spirit now,
And makes, O marvellous!
New Nazareths in us,
Where she shall yet conceive
Him, morning, noon, and eve,
New Bethlems, and he born
There, evening, noon, and morn— (ibid.)
On this day we pray: We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts, that we who have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought unto the glory of his resurrection; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Continued Blessings for a Holy Lent – Fr. Harley+
(Note – From: Church Publishing. Lesser Feasts and Fasts (Kindle Locations 3997-4025). Church Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition. )
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Saint Patrick – Missionary Bishop

The real St. Patrick

The Feast Day of St. Patrick: Patrick was born into a Christian family somewhere on the northwest coast of Britain in about 390. His grandfather had been a Christian priest and his father, Calpornius, a deacon. Calpornius was an important official in the late Roman imperial government of Britain. It was not unusual in this post-Constantinian period for such state officials to be in holy orders. When Patrick was about sixteen, he was captured by a band of Irish slave-raiders. He was carried off to Ireland and forced to serve as a shepherd. When he was about twenty-one, he escaped and returned to Britain, where he was educated as a Christian. He tells us that he took holy orders as both presbyter and bishop, although no particular see is known as his at this time. A vision then called him to return to Ireland. This he did about the year 431.
Tradition holds that Patrick landed not far from the place of his earlier captivity, near what is now known as Downpatrick (a “down” or “dun” is a fortified hill, the stronghold of a local Irish king). He then began a remarkable process of missionary conversion throughout the country that continued until his death, probably in 461. He made his appeal to the local kings and through them to their tribes. Christianizing the old pagan religion as he went, Patrick erected Christian churches over sites already regarded as sacred, had crosses carved on old druidic pillars, and put sacred wells and springs under the protection of Christian saints.
Many legends of Patrick’s Irish missionary travels possess substrata of truth, especially those telling of his conversion of the three major Irish High Kings. At Armagh, he is said to have established his principal church. To this day, Armagh is regarded as the primatial see of all Ireland.
Two works are attributed to Patrick: an autobiographical Confession, in which he tells us, among other things, that he was criticized by his contemporaries for lack of learning, and a Letter to Coroticus, a British chieftain. The Lorica or St. Patrick’s Breastplate (“ I bind unto myself today”) is probably not his, but it expresses his faith and zeal.

A collect for St. Patrick’s day: Almighty God, who in thy providence didst choose thy servant Patrick to be the apostle of the Irish people, to bring those who were wandering in darkness and error to the true light and knowledge of thee: Grant us so to walk in that light that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Church Publishing. Lesser Feasts and Fasts (Kindle Locations 3761-3789). Church Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.
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Cure for Discontent

From Bagster’s Daily light Friday March 10th

The Lord will provide.1

God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.2

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear.3  There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.4

Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.5  Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; to deliver their soul from death.6

My God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.7  He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.8  The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusteth in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth: and with my song will I praise him.9
______________

1Gen 22:14,8; 2Isa 59:1; 3Rom 11:26; 4Psa 146:5; 5Psa 33:18,19; 6Phi 4:19; 7Heb 13:5,6; 8Psa 28:7;

In this season of Lent, it is appropriate to ask, How much is enough? Why are we filled with restless longings and discontent spirits? Do we recognize a loving God who is also concerned with our welfare and our needs? Come and ask these questions or others you may have, on Sunday any time from 8:00am through our 10:30am service. Also, consider joining us for our soup suppers in Lent on Wednesday evenings at 6:00pm. Add your questions to our own, and enjoy the company of others seeking a spirit of contentment. May God richly bless you in this season of Lent, Fr. Harley+

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The Glory of Lent

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One of our hymns for Lent begins, “The glory of these forty days we celebrate with songs of praise; for Christ, by whom all things were made, himself has fasted and has prayed.”  The text of the hymn comes from sixth century Latin, some think that Pope Gregory I (the Great) was involved in its composition.  The tune is from a sixteenth century German hymnbook that was edited by Martin Luther.  There is a lot of theological content here.  We see the connection between the forty days of Lent and the story of Jesus fasting for forty days in Matthew chapter 4.  We see Christ identified as the one “by whom all things were made,” which is a phrase from the Nicene Creed that highlights the central mystery of Christianity:  Jesus, the man who traveled around Palestine two thousand years ago, is also the God who made the universe.  We also see the interesting idea that fasting and prayer, though perhaps low on the excitement scale, should be praised because they draw us closer to God, which is the whole point of Christianity.  All that in the first verse!  Come and join us on Sunday to hear and ponder the other four verses.

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The Glory of Lent

One of our hymns for Lent begins, “The glory of these forty days we celebrate with songs of praise; For Christ, by whom all things were made, Himself has fasted and has prayed.”  The text of the hymn comes from sixth century Latin, some think that Pope Gregory I (the Great) was involved in its composition.  The tune is from a sixteenth century German hymnbook that was edited by Martin Luther.  There is a lot of theological content here.  We see the connection between the forty days of Lent and the story of Jesus fasting for forty days in Matthew chapter 4.  We see Christ identified as the one “by whom all things were made,” which is a phrase from the Nicene Creed that highlights the central mystery of Christianity:  Jesus, the man who traveled around Palestine two thousand years ago, is also the God who made the universe.  We also see the interesting idea that fasting and prayer, though perhaps low on the excitement scale, should be praised because they draw us closer to God, which is the whole point of Christianity.  All that in the first verse!  Come and join us on Sunday to hear and ponder the other four verses.

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The Great Litany

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During the Sundays in Lent we say as a community the Litany. It is a corporate prayer for ourselves, friends, colleagues, and family. In the Litany we pray for our neighborhoods, communities, and the nation. Our petitions covers the whole world and all of creation in this sweeping liturgy of praise. Select this link to make the prayers:

http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/1928/Litany.htm

Better yet, join us on Sunday at 10:30am to add to our corporate prayers on behalf of the whole world.

 

 

 

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Soup of the Evening

     St. Barnabas invites you to join us for soup suppers on Wednesday evenings during Lent (March 8 through April 5).  Supper will be available beginning at 6:00 pm, but it’s OK to come later if traffic is slow.  Sharing a simple meal will help us know one other better.  More importantly, we will grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. If you are looking for a church steeped in the Anglican tradition, we are happy to share in the centuries old heritage of “English Spirituality”.  After supper, we will gather around informal prayer for the sake of ourselves, our families and friends, and the sake of the world. We lift these prayers to a loving Lord and mediator who gave his life willingly for us.
     If you are interested learning more about the Christian faith, Lent is a wonderful time to explore. This is a time when we walk on a journey that recalls Jesus Christ’s same path to the cross, the passion and the resurrection miracle of Easter. If you are looking for hidden esoteric mysteries and arcane practices, you will be disappointed. If you are humbly seeking God and desire to grow in the mystical experience of a living Lord, you will not be disappointed.
     There are no secret antechambers or hidden passage ways in our simple space. Our entire footprint is laid out to encourage worship, prayer and genuine fellowship. Jesus Christ is our guide along with the faithful who have gone before us.  Even though we live in the age that promises interstellar travel and ever more complicated interplay of converging technologies, Lent is a time to slow our pace and focus our meditations.  Lent is also a time for reflection and penitence. Lent is particularly a time for Christians to come together in fellowship and good cheer. Join us at this time and you will be blessed.
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The Season of Lent

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Lent, as its older name (Lengten) implies, is the season of spring, when the days begin to lengthen (at least in the northern hemisphere).  In the Church, Lent is a season of forty days leading up to Easter.  It is reminiscent of the 40 days Christ spent in the wilderness prior to the start of His public ministry. At this time, we examine ourselves, repent of our sins, and prepare for the Good News that, in his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has made it possible for us to live with God forever.  Lent begins with Ash Wednesday (this coming Wednesday), so called because part of the liturgy includes marking the participants with ashes on their foreheads, asking us to recall that we are “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”  We have no right to God’s regard except through the sacrifice of Jesus.  This is very counter-cultural but profoundly true.  Most of us think of ourselves, most of the time, as pretty good people.  And in a sense we are.  But all of us have made mistakes, been thoughtless or heartless to others, neglected the poor around us, neglected God.
God’s standard is not “pretty good,” but “perfectly holy.”  He is not aloof in his goodness, he actively wants us to share it.  He has not neglected our poverty, he has shared it, even sharing in degradation and death.  What wondrous love is this!  In order to understand this amazing love and care, come and join us on Ash Wednesday (at Noon or 7:00 p.m.). Throughout the weeks of Lent, we gather in special focus to prepare for the great culmination of this season. On Sunday’s we will have adult bible studies at 9:10am, before the 10:30am service. On Wednesday’s we meet for a simple meal, reflection and prayer at 6:30pm each week. From Palm Sunday – April 9 through April 16th we are immersed in the Holiest of weeks with special services and liturgies until Easter Day.
On the last day before the sober season of Lent, it has become popular to celebrate a party called Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), for example in New Orleans.  We won’t exactly participate in wild revelry, but we will celebrate the Anglican version, known as Shrove (for striving) Tuesday, by serving pancakes starting at 6:30 p.m.  All are welcome.

 

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Blessings for a Holy Lent – Fr. Harley+ & the parish of St. Barnabas

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Old or new?

Old or New? Over the last few years churches have tried to distinguish themselves from their sister churches by reaching to the early church past to define the cutting edge church future. The term to describe this enviable state of embracing a distant golden age of faith and presenting in appealing new ways has been described as “Ancient/Future”.  This is not to be confused with the world music band “Ancient Future” which was formed in 1978. When describing this term to a family friend they quickly replied, “you mean yesterday?”.

Yes, we use an ancient form of liturgy and we follow the rhythm of the church year, which is centuries old.  Yet here we are, communicating by blog.  We are a member of the Anglican Church in North America, which was formed (out of pre-existing groups of Anglicans) in 2009.  So are we old or new?  We are both.  Like the Anglican Church in the 16th century, we honor the pioneers of the Church, the Apostles who knew Jesus.  The Reformers were inspired by the early “Fathers and Mothers” of the church who struggled to define Christianity in the first 3 or 4 centuries of the young church.
We believe that Jesus is the same now and forever and that in every age he holds out to us the hope of overcoming sin, evil, and death.  And we are open to your questions and concerns today.  You are welcome to join us in worship of God that is old but always new. On Wednesday at Noon and 7:00pm (March 1) we offer the ancient liturgy of imposition of ashes to begin the season of Lent. During this season the faithful recall the 40 days that Christ was to fast in the wilderness. We too make our wilderness pilgrimage on our way to the Cross of Christ at Easter.
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Classes on Basic Christian Doctrine

You are welcome to join us for a series of classes on basic Christian doctrine, using the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Anglican Church as a basis.  The next topic, this Sunday (Feb. 19th) will be the Biblethe place it holds in Christian theology and how the Church understands it.  Later topics will include the Being of God, the Nature of Man, the Church, the Sacraments, and issues that have historically divided the Anglican Church from the Roman Catholic Church.  Your questions are welcome!  Each class will be self-contained, so come when you can.  Classes will be on the following dates at 9:10 (between the 8:00 and 10:30 liturgies):  Feb. 19th, March 5th, March 12th, March 19th, April 2nd, & April 9th.

Note: We will not meet on Feb. 26th or March 26th.

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