June Blessings!

June 1, 2018 – Friday Morning

The fruit of the Spirit is longsuffering, gentleness.1

The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abun-dant in goodness and truth.2

Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.3 Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.4 The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.5 Charity suffereth long, and is kind.6

In due season we shall reap, if we faint not.7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.8
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1Gal 5:22; 2Exo 34:6; 3Eph 4:1,2,32; 4Jam 3:17; 51Co 13:4; 6Gal 6:9; 7Jam 5:7,8; (From Bagster’s Daily Light K.J.V.)

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Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, began as a remembrance for those who died on both sides in the Civil War.  Over time, it has come to honor the dead in all American wars. On this occasion, it may be helpful to review what Christians believe about death.https://bakoheat.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/decoration-day.jpg?w=478&h=556

In the 11th chapter of the Gospel of John, we read that Jesus’ friend Lazarus fell ill.  When Jesus heard this, he told his followers that “this illness does not lead to death, rather it is for God’s glory.”  When Jesus arrived at Lazarus’ home, his friend had died.  Lazarus’ sister Martha met Jesus and, remembering Jesus’ many acts of healing, said, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again.”  Martha said she understood there would be a general resurrection of the faithful on the “last day.”  Jesus then made this remarkable statement:  “I am the resurrection and the life.  Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”  Then Jesus went to the tomb and called, “Come out!”  Immediately Lazarus was revived and returned to life, to the amazement of all.

The revival of Lazarus was not a resurrection.  Lazarus presumably died (again) later on.  Jesus’ action in this instance was a proclamation of his complete power over death, but only a partial illustration of that power.  The full demonstration came when Jesus himself was killed and came back to a new kind of life.  After the resurrection, Jesus suddenly appeared in locked rooms and traveled rapidly from place to place, but he went out of his way to show his followers that he was not an immaterial ghost, he had a (kind of) physical body.

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Easter The Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Date: 1463 Mural in fresco and tempera by Piero della Francesca (1420–1492)

Pondering these things, St. Paul instructed the church at Rome that our baptism should be regarded as a kind of death, a death to sin.  Moreover, “if we have been united with [Jesus] in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”  To the church at Corinth he wrote, “Listen, I will tell you a mystery!  We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”  The Book of Revelation describes, in colorful and mystical language, how those who trust in Christ will live with him in bliss forever.

Jesus taught his followers not to judge whether others would be saved or not.  It is our job as Christians to proclaim the possibility of eternal bliss, to invite others to this rich future, and to take care that we ourselves are not left out.  Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, a 17th century French monk, put it this way (as recorded in the book called “The Practice of the Presence of God”):  “The end we ought to propose to ourselves in this life is to become as good worshipers of God as we can, as we hope to be his perfect worshipers for all eternity.

So as we honor and respect our war dead on this holiday, let us wish them the best possible future, a life wrapped in the loving arms of God.  This future life is a reality that we can share with them.

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Pentecost, commonly called Whitsunday

Since Advent (four weeks prior to Christmas), our services have followed the Church Year in celebrating Jesus’ birth, his ministry of teaching and miracles, his betrayal, arrest, and death, followed by his miraculous resurrection and ascension.  Now we reach another high point of particular importance for the establishment of the Church.  Before his ascension, Jesus had told his followers, who were still generally timid and in hiding, to stay in Jerusalem until they had been given “power from on high.”  

 Jesus’ ascension took place 40 days after his resurrection.  Ten days after that was a Jewish religious holiday called Shavuot, which means “weeks” in Hebrew.  The holiday fell 49 days, or a “week of weeks,” after the day following Passover.  In Greek, the holiday was called Pentecost from the word for “fifty.”  Pentecost/Shavuot was an agricultural festival marking the beginning of the wheat harvest.  All Jews who could afford to do so went up to Jerusalem to give thanks to God for the “first fruits” of the earth.

On Pentecost/Shavuot, it was (and is) traditional to read the Book of Ruth.  This story concerns Ruth, a Gentile woman, who had married a son of Naomi, a Jewish woman.  When the man died, Naomi decided to return to her homeland and she counseled Ruth to remain, but Ruth, with touching fidelity, promised to follow Naomi, saying “your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”  Ruth followed Naomi to Bethlehem and, at harvest time, met and married a wealthy man, Boaz.  The great King David was a descendant of that marriage.  Thus the story of Ruth looked forward to a time when Jews and Gentiles would join together in worshiping the one true God.  

On Pentecost/Shavuot, when Jerusalem was full of people, the followers of Jesus gathered together, presumably praying and wondering about this “power from on high.”  Suddenly there came a sound like a rushing wind, fire appeared over their heads, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit.  They were given power to speak in various languages about the Good News of Jesus.  The story of Ruth now had a greater ending because Jesus, born at Bethlehem, was a greater descendant of King David.  After receiving the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ followers spoke boldly and promptly made many converts to the new Church. 

After the destruction of the Temple and dispersion of the Jewish people in A.D. 70, the agricultural focus of Shavuot shifted and the holiday came to commemorate the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai.  In this way, Shavuot became associated with the origin of the Jewish people, just as Pentecost became associated with the origin of the Church.

 In England, Pentecost is often called Whitsunday because of the white vestments traditionally worn on that day. Whitsunday was also a popular day for Baptisms in England and Europe in general because temperatures at the Easter vigil were still chilly for full immersion baptisms. At the end of the end of the “Great 50 Days” (the time from Easter to Pentecost) the weather is usually a little more conducive to baptisms in cold English stone churches.

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Ascension Day

May 10th – this Thursday is Ascension Day. We will observe two services on this day at Noon and 7:00 p.m.

Why do we celebrate a service on this day? Here are some thoughts shared in a sermon by one of the Caroline divines:

This day gives us hopes of Heaven, in that our flesh in the first-fruits is thither ascended. For if God had not intended some great good to our nature, he would not have received the first-fruits up on high: Christ taking the first-fruits of our nature, this day carried it up to God, and by those first-fruits, hath made the whole stock to be sanctified. And the Father highly esteemed the gift, both for the worthiness of him that offered it up, and for the purity of the offering, so as to receive it with his own hands, and to set it at his right hand. To what Nature was it that God said, Sit thou on my right hand? To the same, to which formerly he had said, dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return. This gift went far beyond the loss; Paradise was the place from which we fell; but we were this day carried up to heaven, and mansions are there provided for us, Chrys. in diem. Christ ascended up into heaven in the sight of his Disciples, that they and we might assuredly believe, that we should follow, and not deem it impossible for us body and soul, to be translated thither; Cypr. in diem.

From a sermon by Anthony Sparrow, D.D. (1612-1685)

First printed in his book: A Rationale upon the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England” (London 1665)

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Saint Mark the Evangelist

 

April 25th is the feast day of Saint Mark. From tradition and the internal evidence of the https://i1.wp.com/catholicsaints.info/wp-content/uploads/pls-Saint-Mark-Evangelist.jpgNew Testament, it appears that Mark was an early member of the church who knew both Saint Peter and Saint Paul. He wrote his account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection probably for readers in Rome. It is said that he later moved to Alexandria and founded the church there. Centuries later, his remains were removed from Egypt to Venice and, since then, Mark has been celebrated as the patron saint of Venice. The imposing Basilica of St. Mark is at the heart of the city. It is pleasing to speculate what we might have done if we had known the first generation of Christians. Mark was in that enviable position and he wrote his gospel for our instruction. Take time and read it this week!

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It All Comes Down to This…

At St. Barnabas, everything we have, our building, liturgy, and hymns, all serve a single purpose:  to encourage everyone to accept and develop a personal relationship with God, the loving creator of the universe.  God has his arms open to us.  His son Jesus died for our sins so that we can be forgiven and live forever with God.  How can we respond to this golden opportunity?  Here’s a good start, pray to God (he is always listening):  

God, I have let you down and become separated from you.  I am sorry and I want to change.  I want to live with you forever.  Help me! 

If you say this with sincerity, God will help you. He has been known to speak with a still, small voice, so listen carefully and start your journey home to God. If you want to join with others who are making that same journey, you will be welcome at St. Barnabas.

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Jesus in the Old Testament

In Luke’s Gospel (Chapter 24) we are told that one of the things Jesus did after his resurrection was to interpret to them the “things said about himself in all the scriptures,” that is, what we now call the Old Testament.  One of those things was doubtless the following from the prophet Isaiah, written hundreds of years earlier:

Who has believed what we have heard?  And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?  For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground:  he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  

He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces; he was despised and we held him of no account.

Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid upon him the iniquity of us all.      (Isaiah 53:1-6)         

This prophecy deeply impressed the early followers of Jesus.  It was the subject of Philip’s explanation of Jesus’ mission to the Ethiopian court official in the Acts of the Apostles (Chapter 8).  And it is echoed in the first letter of St. Peter (Chapter 2):

If you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.  For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.

He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.  When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.  He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.  For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

Jesus said (Matthew 5:17) that he had come not to abolish the Jewish law but to fulfill it.  The early church found this fulfillment in their understanding of how Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection had confronted the effects of sin, evil, and death.  These were problems that God had announced he was going to address from the first call of Abraham, who was told that his descendants would be a blessing to all nations.  

During the Great Fifty Days, our Bible readings talk about how Jesus’ resurrection ties in with God’s overall plan of helping humanity.  Come and join us!

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The Great Fifty Days

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He appeared to seven of His disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-25)

The season between Easter and Pentecost is known as the Great Fifty Days for the simple reason that Pentecost follows Easter by that many days.  During the first forty days after his resurrection, as reported in the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus appeared to his followers on several occasions and instructed them in what they must do.  Later, some of his followers wrote down what they had learned, and those writings are included in the New Testament.  One of the instructions Jesus gave was to remain in Jerusalem until they received a special gift from God.  Not knowing what this might mean, Jesus’ followers stayed in Jerusalem and waited.  If they had expected a victorious military Messiah, they clearly had not gotten one.  And yet Jesus had demonstrated power to defeat death.  Their despair at Jesus’ execution had turned to joy and wonder, and more was to come.  After forty days . . . but that is another story.

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He appeared to two men on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32)

 

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What Does the Resurrection Mean?

2000 years ago, a man named Jesus lived in and around Jerusalem.  He attracted followers by his personality, teachings, and miraculous healings.  Some people thought that he might lead an armed rebellion against the occupying Roman Empire.  Instead, he was arrested by the religious authorities, handed over to the Romans, and executed in the most degrading way available:  he was nailed to a cross and left there until he died.  He was buried and his followers fled, terrified.  Three days later, Jesus was seen alive.  Some doubted, but Jesus showed them the marks of the nails in his hands and feet.  Jesus said that he had defeated death.  What did this mean?  What does it mean for us?  The Church has been unpacking this gift for two thousand years.  Come and see what we have discovered!

The period from Easter until Pentecost is called the “Great 50 Days”. There is much that happens between these two events. We will explore all that we can at our two regularly scheduled services on Sunday at 8:00am & 10:30am. Easter tide blessings!

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Holy Week is Coming…

The season of Lent has been a preparation for Holy Week and the events leading to Easter. Check out the calendar and join us for the following: 

Palm Sunday, March 25.  Following his ministry of preaching and miracles, Jesus turned his face to Jerusalem, the holy city.  Many of his followers doubtless expected that he would reveal his identity as the long-awaited Messiah mighty acts that would reveal his divine kingship and drive out the hated Romans.  Instead, he entered the city peacefully, riding on a donkey, as his followers spread palm leaves to soften his path.  The Jewish leaders and most of the people turned against him and, allying themselves with the Romans, brought about his execution a few days later.  The Palm Sunday liturgy recalls both Jesus’ celebratory entry into Jerusalem and his condemnation by the religious authorities.

Maundy Thursday, March 29.  On his last evening with his followers, Jesus instituted the sacrament of the bread and wine, the Eucharist, which we celebrate every Sunday.  He also gave his followers a new instruction, or mandate, or “maundy” in its older English version:  to love one another as he loves us.  It is remarkable that, facing death at the hands of the stubborn religious leaders, the unheeding multitude, and the foreign oppressors, that Jesus’ final thoughts should be on love and forgiveness.

Good Friday, March 30.  This liturgy recalls Jesus’ execution.  As he carried his cross to the place where he was to die, tradition distinguishes fourteen incidents that are often represented in pictures called “stations of the cross.”  This liturgy uses those pictures as a focus of devotion.

 Easter Eve, March 31.  In the Jewish and early Christian reckoning, each day began at sunset, so Easter Day (which is Sunday April 1 this year) begins (traditionally) at sunset on Saturday March 31.  This liturgy celebrates Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and all that it means to us through the centuries and to the end of the world.

Easter Day, April 1.  Resurrection Sunday, the fullness of Easter Joy!

You are welcome to join us for these liturgies.  As you can see, they complement one another so the more you attend the more you will immerse yourself in sacred things of everlasting importance.

Palm Sunday – March 25th Services at 8:00 am & 10:30 am. Blessings and procession of Palms at both services.

Maundy Thursday – March 29th A single service at 7:00 pm followed by a vigil at the altar of repose.

Good Friday – March 30th the vigil concludes at Noon and the elements are restored to the tabernacle. A service of Stations of the Cross will be observed at Noon and 7:00 pm.

Holy Saturday & Easter Eve vigil March 31st 7:00 pm We begin with the service of New Light followed by baptisms and renewal of vows and the first Eucharist of Easter Day.

Easter Day April 1st at 9:00 am. A single service at 9:00 am.

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