WHO IS GOD? Part 18 (The Wilderness)

St. Barnabas Blog (SBB):  We were talking about the Hebrews in Egypt and their escape after a series of plagues caused Pharaoh to let them go.

Anaiah:  Yes.  This was not simply a political event.  Pharaoh himself puts it most clearly when he says to Moses:  “Rise up, go forth from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as you have said.”  Exodus 12:31.  The Hebrews knew, as even Pharaoh grudgingly recognized, that they had been singled out from all the peoples of the world to serve one God.  Remember, this is connected with the promise made to Abraham, that his people would serve as a light to all the peoples of the earth.

SBB:  But didn’t Pharaoh pursue the Hebrews after agreeing to let them go?

Anaiah:  He did, along with his army.  The Hebrews fled until they came to a body of water that barred their path.  At that point, with God’s help, the waters were parted and the Hebrews were able to make their escape.  Pharaoh’s army attempted to follow but were destroyed when the waters returned.

SBB:  But did this . . .?

Anaiah:  Happen?  Yes, though again I believe that legendary details may have grown up around the story.

SBB:  What do we learn about God from this?

Anaiah:  God speaks to us symbolically.  The creation story (Genesis 1:6) describes the entire world as being made by parting the primeval waters.  Now we read that Moses and the Hebrews were saved when God parted the waters. We will see the same image repeated later in the story.  I conclude that God is teaching us something about water and salvation, but as happens often, the teaching is indirect.

SBB:  What happened after the Hebrews are safely across the water?

Anaiah:  They marched off into the wilderness (what is now called the Sinai Peninsula).  This was a very inhospitable place, almost devoid of vegetation.  Soon the supplies of drinking water and food ran short.  But God helped them through miracles.  This was, I believe, another lesson.  God was training the people to be completely dependent on him.

SBB:  Wasn’t this lesson already taught in Egypt and at the crossing of the sea?

Anaiah:  Yes, but this lesson is evidently hard to learn.  We will see this throughout the desert journey and beyond.  In fact, this goes to the heart of our relationship with God.  Abraham was tested when he was asked to sacrifice Isaac.  Adam was tested in the Garden.  The question keeps coming up:  will you trust in God or will you try to invent your own security?  Ultimately, this comes down to the question:  will you admit that God is God, or will you try to be your own god?  Trusting God leads to life, trusting in one’s own resources leads to death.

SBB:  What does it mean to trust in God?

Anaiah:  We see it illustrated in the desert.  Despite repeated miracles, the people complain and express fear about the future, but God saves them.  And then he brings them to the mountain where Moses had first seen the burning bush.

SBB:  Why did God do that?

Anaiah:  God was going to appear to the people, to teach them how to live according to his laws.

SBB:  Why were laws necessary?

Anaiah:  Laws were not necessary originally.  Adam and Eve lived in the Garden with only one, almost token rule.  But God is merciful.  He recognized that the Hebrews were not ready for complete freedom.  They needed direction.  In the same way, we teach children by giving them rules to live by, hoping that they will eventually learn to govern themselves.

SBB:  So what happened at the mountain?

Anaiah:  That’s a story in itself for next time.


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Wednesday Night Music Group

Join Our Wednesday Evening music Group

6:30 pm

Bring your guitar, banjo, mandolin or instrument of your choice and join us in fellowship as we jam and sing! 

All levels of experience are welcome.

Bring a song you want to share.

 St. Barnabas Anglican Church

2340 N. 115th

Shoreline, WA   98133


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As a long weekend comes to a close

A little wisdom at the end of a three day and the eve of a new work week.

September 3, 2018 – Monday Evening

The serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: … your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.1

I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.2

My brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.3 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.4

1Gen 3:4,5; 22Co 11:3; 3Eph 6:10,11,13-17; 42Co 2:11;

From Bagster’s Daily light (KJV)

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WHO IS GOD? Part 17 (The Escape from Egypt)

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

St. Barnabas Blog:  Last time, we talked about Moses, a child of the enslaved Hebrews, raised by a royal Egyptian princess, exiled from Egypt.  God revealed himself in a burning bush and instructed him to return to Egypt and set his people free so that they could return to the land promised to their ancestor Abraham.

Anaiah:  Right, and the story goes on to describe how Moses followed God’s instructions, returned to Egypt, and after a series of signs and wonders from God, persuaded the king (Pharaoh) of Egypt to let the Hebrews go.

SBB:  I’m going to ask my usual question.

Anaiah:  You mean, did this really happen?  I will give my usual answer:  yes though the details may be colored by tradition over hundreds of years of re-telling.  One point I must insist on, though, and that is the last of the signs, the one that finally made Pharaoh relent.

SBB:  What was that?

Anaiah:  Despite a series of plagues involving vermin, disease, and darkness falling over the land, Pharaoh remained stubborn and refused to let the Hebrews go.  Finally, God gave notice of the worst plague of all:  the first-born of all Egypt, people and animals, would die in a single night.  The Hebrews could protect themselves only by putting the blood of a lamb on their doorposts so that the Destroyer would “pass over” them.  That event, as you probably know, is commemorated in the annual Jewish observance of Passover.

SBB:  Why do you insist on that particular sign?

Anaiah:  In doing so I do not mean to deny the reality of the rest, but the commemoration of Passover (as we shall see) follows God’s command and the final sign directly furthered God’s announced plan to bring the Hebrews back to the Promised Land.  Passover is so deeply bound up with our identity as a people that it is hard to imagine that it was simply invented.  Beyond this, it is not the sort of thing that one would invent.  The other signs resemble natural events.  Egypt is periodically infested by flies, frogs, and other vermin, and it is darkened by sandstorms.  But sudden death of the firstborn, averted only by ritual sacrifice, seems different in kind, it has an otherworldly air, like a burning bush that is not consumed.  There is also a kind of irony that we have seen before.  This story began with the Egyptians ordering the death of Hebrew children, and their scheme has rebounded upon them through one child who passed through that peril.  Similarly, we saw that Joseph was attacked by his brothers and left for dead, but he ended up as the savior not only of his brothers but of his whole people.

SBB:  What do we learn about God from this story?

Anaiah:  We learn that God’s purposes are not defeated by human malice or errors.  We learn that God’s promise to the Hebrews is carried out in such a way that they must recognize their complete dependence on God’s free gift.  There is certainly no suggestion in the story that the Hebrews deserved to be saved for any conspicuous goodness of their own, or that their salvation was brought about by their own initiative.  To the contrary, they were saved only by their strict obedience to God’s command.  We learn that God’s actions have a certain pattern.  Abraham was instructed to sacrifice Isaac, but disaster was averted when God provided a ram for sacrifice.  Now in Egypt, the people are saved by sacrificing a lamb.  It is not anything that could have been predicted, but in retrospect a certain pattern emerges.  Finally, we learn that God’s loving purpose remains:  to save all people in the world through the creation of a particular people, the Hebrews, loyal to and dependent on himself.

SBB:  What happened after the Pharaoh decided to let the Hebrews go?

Anaiah:  They set off for the Promised Land, but had many adventures before they got there.  I’ll explain further next time.


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Nigerian Sunday Debrief

Nigerian Sunday has come and gone.  It was a joyful time of singing, dancing, clapping, and praying together. The Venerable Dr. Godson Ofoegbu was our preacher and visiting minister. The Rev. Dr. Godson brought greetings from Transfiguration Anglican Church of Los Angeles in California. He expounded the Gospel lesson that “those who exalt themselves will be humbled, while those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)  We shared the Eucharist together, and food and fellowship followed the liturgy.  If you missed it, there is always next year!


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Nigerian Sunday Celebration

This Sunday August 12, 2018 is our annual Nigerian Sunday Celebration.

There is a single service of communion at 10:30 a.m. We welcome our many guests with songs of praise and choruses of thanksgiving.

Drummers leading worship July 2013

Following the service enjoy fellowship and authentic Nigerian cuisine.

Praise to the Most High God with worship and honor.


Choristers in song July 2013

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Anglican Lore, Part 2

A previous post talked about the doxology written by Thomas Ken, beginning “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”  These well-known words have an equally well-known tune, commonly called the “Old Hundredth.” For the origins of this tune and its name, we need to go back to the early days of the Reformation in Europe.

One point stressed by the early Reformers was that church services should be “in such a tongue as the people understandeth” (as the Thirty-Nine Articles have it).  This included not only Bible readings and prayers, but also singing.  Music in the traditional church services of the Sixteenth Century incorporated stately chants in Latin, usually by clergy or trained choirs.  Both Luther in Germany and Calvin in Geneva set about to provide alternatives.  Calvin began to translate the Psalms into French, but soon turned that task over to a poet named Clement Marot.  Calvin commissioned composer Louis Bourgeois to prepare tunes suitable for the newly translated Psalms.  Bourgeois and Marot did not complete the work, but others took it up.  Various partial editions were published and by 1562 the entire set of Psalms (and some other Biblical texts) were available for use in French, set to 126 different tunes (some tunes were used more than once).  The new tunes contrasted with the traditional chants (Queen Elizabeth of England reportedly called them “Genevan jigs”), but they became very popular.  The whole collection was known as the Genevan Psalter and the tune we know as the “Old Hundredth,” was the setting for Psalm 134 (in French) in that collection.  The tune is attributed to Louis Bourgeois.

Meanwhile, various people were working to translate the Psalms into English.  One of them was William Kethe, who was active in Geneva.  His best-known translation was of Psalm 100 (also known by its Latin name, the Jubilate Deo), which begins, “All people that on earth do dwell, sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.”  Kethe’s translation of Psalm 100 was included in a collection of English Psalms published in 1562 and based in part on the Genevan tunes.  This “Anglo-Genevan Psalter” used the tune from the French text of Psalm 134 and applied it to the English text of Psalm 100.  That is the origin of the tune name, “Old Hundredth.”  The Anglo-Genevan Psalter remained popular until the 18th Century, when tastes in church music changed and new hymns, not directly based on the Psalms, came into widespread use.  Somewhere during this period it was noticed that the Old Hundredth tune worked well with Thomas Ken’s doxology, and the two have been paired ever since in many collections of hymns and sacred songs.

So we see that examination of one small part of the Anglican liturgy takes us back hundreds of years to appreciate the work of many hands working to promote fitting worship of God in the Church.

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Anglican Lore: The Doxology

One of the glories of the Anglican tradition is its liturgy, its form of common worship. At St. Barnabas, we follow the traditional Anglican liturgy. Every part of it repays study. Here is one example. At the conclusion of the Offertory, we sing a doxology (a short hymn praising God) in the following words:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him, all creature here below,
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
The words picture all things on earth (all creatures here below) joining with the angels (the heavenly host) in praising God for his many blessings. This is what heaven will be like: all sin, evil, and death will be destroyed and we will live forever with God in grateful love and harmony. The words were written by Thomas Ken (1637 – 1711), an English bishop who, as part of his work at Winchester College (a boarding school in Winchester that still exists), wrote prayers and hymns for the use of the students. Two of the hymns were intended for use at morning and evening devotions, and both ended with the words written above.
There is much more of interest about Thomas Ken, who lived in a tumultuous time under kings Charles II, James II, and William III, but was considered an honest and faithful gentleman throughout.
Watch this space for information about the tune used with this doxology.


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WHO IS GOD? Part 16 (Moses continued)

Long time readers of this blog will recognize that this is part of a series that has been on hiatus recently. Earlier posts can be found farther down in the blog. We have been trying to discern who God is by discussing how God is depicted in the Old Testament. Our interlocutor is Anaiah, an educated Jew from the 500’s B.C.
St. Barnabas Blog: We have been talking about Moses and his encounter with God in the burning bush as related in the Book of Exodus, Chapter 3. “Exodus” means “a way out” in Greek, by the way.
Anaiah: It is a good name for the story, because as you will see it has to do with the Israelites finding a way out of Egypt. But first, you had some questions about the encounter Moses had with God.
SBB: Yes. What was God doing in a burning bush?
Anaiah: Recall that God is not a physical being; indeed, he created the entire physical universe. So any encounter with God is going to be unusual, to say the least. God can choose how to reveal himself, so we are probably meant to ponder this appearance and what symbolic meaning it may have.
SBB: Do you see any symbolism in it?
Anaiah: I’ll tell you what I think. The story does not indicate that there is anything unusual about this particular bush. What makes it unusual is the fire within it, which burns but does not consume. This could be a symbol of the Hebrew people, who (certainly at this point in the story) are humble in the eyes of the world, but in whom lives the spirit of God. God is often likened to a fire (we will see that later) because he is awesome, gives life, and does not consume those whom he favors.
SBB: What was Moses’ response to this appearance?
Anaiah: He hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.
SBB: Is fear of God a good thing?
Anaiah: We need to distinguish two kinds of fear. First, there is the fear of injury in which God is regarded as an enemy or personal threat. Second, there is awe, the recognition that God is unspeakably great and that the proper response is total surrender to God’s will. It is clear from the story that Moses experiences what we may call holy fear.
SBB: What happened at the burning bush?
Anaiah: God sent Moses back to the Israelites in Egypt and revealed his name.
SBB: He introduced himself?
Anaiah: Much more than that. Remember that the term “God” is a generic one. In Moses’ world, different peoples claimed different gods. So it was not unreasonable for Moses to ask for more information about the God that was appearing to him. He said, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them ‘the God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them? God said, “I am who I am. Say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
SBB: A curious name.
Anaiah: Indeed, and a mysterious one. Among other things, it appears to mean that God is not something that could exist or not, he is something that necessarily exists. You and I could exist or not, we exist because God, the source of all being, has caused us to exist. But the full meaning of the divine name is concealed from us, and to show respect we avoid saying it. Where it occurs in the Biblical text we usually substitute the word “Adonai” (meaning lord) for it. And your modern Bible translations continue this practice, using “LORD” (in all capital letters) where the divine name appears.
SBB: You said that God sent Moses to the Israelites in Egypt. For what purpose?
Anaiah: To bring them out, to return them to the land that God had promised to Abraham.
SBB: How did that work out?
Anaiah: That is a story for next time.


Moses and the Burning Bush – Stern Gallery

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One Sunday Only

This Sunday – July 22, 2018 we will observe one Mass only at 10:30 am. Our 8:00 am service will resume on Sunday July 29, 2018. Also our Adult Christian Education class is postponed until August 19th. We will start a new series then created for A.C.N.A. parishes. See you this Sunday at 10:30am. Blessings!


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