An Advent Journey

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One of our Advent hymns begins:

Creator of the stars of night, thy people’s everlasting light, O Christ thou Savior of us all, we pray thee, hear us when we call.

Two important things to note here. First, Jesus is described as the creator of the stars. As the Gospel of John says, all things came into being through him. “Wait a minute,” you may say, “are you telling me that this man who walked around Palestine 2,000 years ago was actually the creator of the universe?”  The answer is yes, and moreover he is the savior of us all.

Second, it is a general rule in the hymnal and the Prayer Book that we don’t ask for something unless we are confident that it will be granted. So we are confident that Jesus does hear us when we call.

This is a big deal. We are dealing with the creator of the universe here, one who hears us and wishes to save us. Save us from what? From separation from God, from wandering in lonely pathways of our own willfulness, from all ways that lead to death rather than everlasting life. Hear him.

You are invited to be with us as we continue this journey through Advent and beyond:

December 22 – 4th Sunday in Advent 8:00 am & 10:30

                            Greening party following 10:30 service –   Lunch will be provided

Dec. 24  Christmas Eve Services 5:00 and 10:30 pm – Candlelight servicesImage result for nativity

Dec. 25 Christmas Day  10:00am

Dec. 28  Lessons and Carols 3:00 pm –  Pot Luck Appetizer reception

 

 

 

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The “Holidays” vs. Advent

The “Holidays” are a season of rush and anxiety. We endure “three days only” sales, overspending, overeating, worry about whether more stuff will make us happy, parking problems, and sappy specials about elves and talking reindeer, occasionally relieved by football.

Advent is a season of light and hope. We read God’s promises to visit us and save us from sin, evil, and death; we contemplate images of light in the darkness, and we prepare ourselves for Christmas, when God’s promises will be fulfilled, and we occasionally watch football.

Compare and contrast.

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Thanksgiving Day Service

Join us for a Thanksgiving Day Mass. Our Mass is from the 1928 American Book of Common Prayer. The service is at 9:00 am on Thursday November 28, 2019. Pre-service music of praise starts a 8:45 am, join us in congregational songs of praise before the start of the liturgy.

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Veteran’s Day November 11, 2019

A grateful nation thanks it’s veterans!

November 11, 2019

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Are You a Saint?

We recently celebrated All Saints’ Day. Saints are people who are sanctified, or made holy by the love of God. Saints are not perfect, they are human like the rest of us. We can aspire to being saints. In fact, we do this every Sunday. Here is the prayer we say at the conclusion of the Eucharist (2019 version):

Almighty and everliving God, we thank you for feeding us, in these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; and for assuring us, through this Sacrament, of your favor and goodness towards us; that we are true members of the mystical body of your Son, the blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs, through hope, of your everlasting kingdom. And we humbly as you, heavenly Father, to assist us with your grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all the good works that you have prepared for us to walk in; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, now and forever. St Michael the Archangel, Findlay, OH - bread and wine crop 1.jpg

We pray for things we are confident that God will give us, so the words “assuring us,” “true members,” “blessed company,” and “heirs” are comforting reminders that God has promised to save all his followers, not just the famous saints. Even people who sin (and that is all of us) are saved if we trust in God.

So the answer to the question, “Are you a saint?” is “Yes, I can be because God helps me!”

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All Saints Day – Nov. 1, 2019

The church recalls those who have gone before us as faithful servants of Christ. Join us https://www.rdcrs.ca/uploads/allsaintsday_17su_4c/1538688466-220w_allsaintsday_17su_4c.jpgfor a service recognizing All Saints Day on Friday – Nov. 1, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.

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Amazing Grace

John Newton (1725-1807) was a slave owner, but he changed his life and became a Christian minister. In thankfulness for his opportunity to recognize his errors and repent, he wrote a song that has given hope to many:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved;

How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come;

‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.

Grace” means the undeserved gift of God. Newton realized that happiness comes from recognizing our limitations and relying on the precious love of God. How much does God love us? He sent his only son, Jesus, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost, but may have eternal life.

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The Purpose of Life

October 24, 2019 – Thursday Evening & The Purpose of Life:

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them.1

There be many that say, Who will shew us any good?2 What hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun? For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. All is vanity and vexation of spirit.3 They have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.4

Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.5 I will pour water upon him that is thirsty.6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.7

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.8
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1Isa 41:17; 2Psa 4:6; 3Ecc 2:22,23,17; 4Jer 2:13; 5Joh 6:37; 6Isa 44:3; 7Mat 5:6; 8Psa 63:1;

(From Bagster’s Daily Light – KJV)

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St. James of Jerusalem

October 23 is the feast day of James, the brother of Jesus. To learn about his life, we have to put together several clues from the New Testament. Image result for james of jerusalem

Matthew 13:55 has residents of Nazareth, Jesus’ home town, exclaiming in wonder, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? This is the carpenter’s son, surely?  In not his mother the woman called Mary, and his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Jude?” (Jerusalem Bible translation)

John 7:2-5 says that “Not even his brothers, in fact, had faith in him.”  Hebrew and Aramaic have no separate word for “cousin,” but use the same word to refer to both brothers and cousins, so this reference is not very precise, but it has traditionally been held that James did not believe in Jesus until after the Resurrection.

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, 15:5-8, recounts post-Resurrection appearances to Peter (“Cephas” in Greek), to the twelve apostles, then to five hundred more, then to James.

In the Acts of the Apostles, 12:17, Peter, having miraculously escaped from jail, leaves a message for “James and the brothers.”

Later in the Acts of the Apostles, 15:13 ff., when a theological controversy arises in Jerusalem, James appears to be in charge and he formulates the official decision of the church council.

In his letter to the Galatians, 2:9, Paul describes a visit to Jerusalem where he met with James, Peter, and John, “these pillars [of the church].”

During Paul’s final visit to Jerusalem, he is described (Acts 21:18) as visiting “James, and all the elders were present.”

The contemporary Jewish historian Josephus describes James as “the brother of the so-called Christ” and says that he was much respected for his piety.  James was reportedly killed by stoning in A.D. 62 or 63.

In 2002 it was reported that an ossuary (a stone box used for storing bones) had been found with the inscription in Aramaic, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” If genuine, this artifact could be a contemporary physical witness to the life and death of James. 

After James’ death, the church in Jerusalem watched with concern as Jewish rebels risked more and more open conflict with occupying Roman troops. Finally, following warnings that Jesus had given, the Christian church left Jerusalem in time to avoid the total destruction of the city by Rome in 70 A.D.

James presided over a significant controversy in the early church about whether new Christians needed to first become Jews (final answer: no). This is reflected in the following prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, who set your brother James on the throne of Your church in Jerusalem: Grant that as he continually interceded for the sins of your people, and worked to reconcile in one body both Jew and Gentile; so your Church may give itself continually to prayer and to the reconciliation of all who are at variance and enmity, and may ever be an effectual witness for the salvation of all mankind. Grant this, O Son of Man, who are on the right hand of the Father, in the unity of the Spirit, now and ever. Amen!

 

 

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Do I Have Hope If I Sin?

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Sin is failure to do what God wants us to do.  There are greater and lesser sins, but it is hard to deny that, to some degree or another, each of us sins every day.  This thought has disturbed Christians for centuries.  Some have feared that if they sin after being baptized, then maybe the baptism didn’t “take” and they will not be saved. Others turn their anxiety outward and tear down figures of the past because, at some time or another, they committed sin. Others rationalize that “it’s not really sin” if we limit ourselves to gossip and a white lie or two.

The Anglican tradition has always taken a realistic view, as reflected in the following excerpts from the Articles of Religion (1571):

Christ in the truth of our nature was made like unto us in all things, sin only except, from which he was clearly void . . . But all we the rest, although baptized, and born again in Christ, yet offend in many things; and if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  [From Article XV]

Not every deadly sin willingly committed after Baptism is sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable.  Wherefore the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after Baptism.  After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may arise again, and amend our lives. [From Article XVI]

The Baptism liturgy includes a prayer for the newly baptized persons, as follows, “That they may persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever they fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord.”  Notice that it doesn’t say “if” they fall into sin, but “when.”  

All of this is firmly based on the Bible. Remember that Jesus’ closest followers ran away and hid when he was arrested and executed. Peter even lied to save himself. But Jesus forgave all of them.

So is sin OK with God? No. Should we go ahead and sin some more, so that God has more to forgive? By no means.

Jesus came to save us from our sins so that we can live forever with God.  The Holy Spirit is available to help us. Therefore we have good reason to hope for the future. What would strengthen that hope? We could get together with other Christians to confess our sins, pray for forgiveness, and participate in the sacrament of bread and wine that Jesus instituted for his followers. Now where could we do that?

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