That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? KJV
THE YEARLY HOLIDAYS AND HIGH HOLY DAYS ARE OUR MILEPOSTS; OUR STONES.
SO WHEN OUR CHILDREN ASK WHAT MEAN THESE THINGS,
WE THEN HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO RETELL THE OLD OLD STORY OF JESUS AND HIS GLORY
Pulpit Colors for Each Season of the Christian Calendar
CHRISTIAN CALENDAR YEAR
NOVEMBER 30, 2014 TO DECEMBER 24, 2014
DECEMBER 25, 2014 TO JANUARY 5, 2015
JANUARY 6, 2015 TO FEBRUARY 17, 2015
FEBRUARY 18, 2015 TO APRIL 4, 2015
APRIL 5, 2015 TO MAY 23, 2015
MAY 24, 2015 TO AUGUST 29, 2015
KINGDOMTIDE OR ORDINARY TIME
AUGUST 30, 2015 TO NOVEMBER 28, 2015
We keep track of time and seasons of the year by using calendars that provide us opportunities to observe, commemorate, and celebrate certain events or occasions. The changing seasons of the year also provide us with recurring opportunities to celebrate the Christian Faith in worship. The Christian church, following earlier Jewish tradition, has long used the seasons of the year as an opportunity for festivals and holidays, sacred time set aside to worship God as the Lord of life.
While Jewish celebration revolves around the Exodus from Egypt, the Christian Church year focuses on the life and ministry of Jesus. The sequence of festivals from Advent to Resurrection Sunday becomes an annual spiritual journey for worshippers as they kneel at the manger, listen on a hillside, walk the streets of Jerusalem, hear the roar of the mob, stand beneath the cross, and witness the resurrection! The rest of the church year provides opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the coming of Jesus and his commission to his people to be a light to the world.
As a congregation moves through the church calendar, they are presented in an organized way with the opportunity to talk about, reflect upon, and respond to the entire range of faith confessions that lie at the heart of the Christian Faith. This is important, not only for the vitality of the whole community, but especially for children to become aware in the context of community celebration those things that are important to their Faith (Deut 6:20-25). One simple avenue that can assist in tracking the seasons of the church year for worshippers, as well as providing a visual context for worship, is the use of Colors of the Church Year in the sanctuary. Different colors are associated with different seasons, and the changing colors of communion table and pulpit coverings (called paraments), or wall banners, provide visual clues for the seasons.
| ADVENT (purple)
The word Advent means "coming" or "arrival." The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Thus, Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God. That is a process in which we now participate, and the consummation of which we anticipate. Scripture reading for Advent will reflect this emphasis on the Second Advent, including themes of accountability for faithfulness at His coming, judgment on sin, and the hope of eternal life.
Historically, the primary sanctuary color of Advent is Purple. This is the color of penitence and fasting as well as the color of royalty to welcome the Advent of the King. The purple of Advent is also the color of suffering used during Lent and Holy Week. This point to an important connection between Jesus’ birth and death. The nativity, the Incarnation, cannot be separated from the crucifixion. The purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world, of the "Word made flesh" and dwelling among us is to reveal God and His grace to the world through Jesus’ life and teaching, but also through his suffering, death, and resurrection. To reflect this emphasis, originally Advent was a time of penitence and fasting, much as the Season of Lent and so shared the color of Lent. Advent begins on the Sunday that is closest to November 30th.
The Advent candles are lit each week: The first candle – to remember the hope that the Christ-Child has brought and will bring into a dark world.
The second candle offers candle to symbolize the love that is coming down from Heaven to live in the heart of each of us
The third (rose) candle is lit to remind us of the exceeding joy that comes only from the Christ-Child
We light the fourth candle in praise to GOD for the peace that the Christ-Child will impart.
DECEMBER 25th TO JANUARY 5th
Early Europeans believed in evil spirits, witches, ghosts and trolls. As the Winter Solstice approached, with its long cold nights and short days, many people feared the sun would not return. Special rituals and celebrations were started to appease the gods. But as Christianity spread they were alarmed by the continuing celebration of pagan customs among their converts. At first the Church forbid this kind of celebration. But it was to no avail. Eventually it was decided that the celebration would be tamed and made into a celebration fit for the Christian Son of God.
Some legends claim that the Christian "Christmas" celebration was invented to compete against the pagan celebrations of December. The 25th was not only sacred to the Romans but also the Persians whose religion Mithraism was one of Christianity's main rivals at that time. The Church eventually was successful in taking the merriment, lights, and gifts from the Saturanilia festival and bringing them to the celebration of Christmas.
The exact day of the Christ child's birth has never been pinpointed. Traditions say that it has been celebrated since the year 98 AD. In 137 AD the Bishop of Rome ordered the birthday of the Christ Child celebrated as a solemn feast. In 350 AD another Bishop of Rome, Julius I, choose December 25th as the observance of Christmas. Celebrations were held to welcome back the sun.
Among all the festivals and holidays of the Christian Church year, Christmas remains the most observed and most popular. Of course, much of that popularity, especially in the West, is due to the commercial promotion of the holiday. In many areas of the world, it is still a rather insignificant holiday even among Christians. Still, the Christmas story captures the heart in a way that transcends all the commercial hype.
The degree to which the holiday is valued in Christian culture even goes beyond the other most Holy Day of Christianity, Easter or Resurrection Sunday. There is something about human nature that would rather focus on the birth of babies than on the torture and death of accused criminals! Especially for the young, the story of Christmas with all the images of angels and a young mother, of shepherds and a stable, of wise men and royal intrigue make the season captivating. Perhaps that is part of the intent of the different ways the story is told in the Gospel accounts, as well as the preservation of so many traditions in the Church surrounding this holiday.
Historically, Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth to a young maiden from Galilee. Theologically, Christmas is the celebration of the incarnation of God in Jesus the Christ, the self-revelation of God to the world in human form for the reconciliation of humanity to Himself. All the details of the various accounts concerning Jesus’ birth revolve around that central truth.
Contrary to advertising campaigns that tout Christmas as beginning with Advent (or Halloween!), the actual Christmas Season in most Western church traditions begins at sunset on Christmas Eve, December 24, and lasts through January 5. Since this time includes 12 days, the season of Christmas is known in many places as the Twelve Days of Christmas. January 6 is usually celebrated as Epiphany, although it carries different significance in various church traditions. Due to different calendars in use in various eras and locations of the church, some cultures and church traditions celebrate Christmas on January 6 (in the older Julian calendar still used as the religious calendar in Eastern Churches, January 6 corresponds to December 24 on our modern calendar).
"The Twelve Days of Christmas" is usually seen as simply a nonsense song for children. However, some have suggested that it is a song of Christian instruction dating to the 16th century religious wars in England, with hidden references to the basic teachings of the Faith. They contend that it was a mnemonic device to teach the catechism to youngsters. The "true love" mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the "days" represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn.
It is certainly possible that this view of the song is legendary or anecdotal. Without corroboration and in the absence of "substantive evidence," we probably should not take rigid positions on either side and turn the song into a crusade for personal opinions. That would do more to violate the spirit of Christmas than the song is worth. So, for the sake of historical accuracy, we need to acknowledge this uncertainty.
However, on another level, this uncertainty should not prevent us from using the song in celebration of Christmas. Many of the symbols of Christianity were not originally religious, including even the present date of Christmas, but were appropriated from contemporary culture by the Christian Faith as vehicles of worship and proclamation. Perhaps, when all is said and done, historical accuracy is not really the point. Perhaps more important is that Christians can celebrate their rich heritage, and God's grace, through one more avenue this Christmas. Now, when they hear what they once thought was a secular "nonsense song," they will be reminded in one more way of the grace of God working in transforming ways in their lives and in our world. After all, is that not the meaning of Christmas anyway?
|Religious symbolism of The Twelve Days of Christmas
1 True Love refers to God
2 Turtle Doves refers to the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens refers to Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds refers to the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings refers to the first Five Books of the Old Testament the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying refers to the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking refers to the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing refers to the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping refers to the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping refers to the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming refers to the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed
EPIPHANY - THREE KINGS DAY (green)
In some Central and South American countries influenced by Catholic tradition, Three Kings’ Day, or the night before, is the time for opening Christmas presents. The term epiphany means "to show" or "to make known" or even "to reveal."
In Western churches, it remembers the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to visit the Christ child, who by so doing "reveal" Jesus to the world as Lord and King. The wise men or Magi were a priestly caste in ancient Persia. They are thought to have been followers of Zoroaster, the Persian teacher and prophet, and they professed the doctrines of Zoroastrianism. Traditionally, we think of the three magi as the three kings. We usually have the three kings in our nativity sets. We even sing, "We three kings of orient are ... ." Here the three gifts, Psalm 72, and the rising star in the East converge to render the Magi as three kings traveling from the East.
Actually, the earliest tradition is inconsistent as to the number of the Magi. The Eastern tradition favored twelve Magi. In the West, several of the early Church fathers — including Origen, St. Leo the Great, and St. Maximus of Turin — accepted three Magi. Early Christian painting in Rome found at the cemetery of Sts. Peter and Marcellinus depicts two magi and at the cemetery of St. Domitilla, four.
Since the seventh century in the Western Church, the magi have been identified as Caspar (sometimes spelled Gaspar), Melchior, and Balthasar. A work called the Excerpta et Collectanea attributed to St. Bede (d. 735) wrote, "The magi were the ones who gave gifts to the Lord. The first is said to have been Melchior, an old man with white hair and a long beard ... who offered gold to the Lord as to a king. The second, Caspar by name, young and beardless and ruddy complexioned ... honored Him as God by his gift of incense, an oblation worthy of divinity. The third, black-skinned and heavily bearded, named Balthasar... by his gift of myrrh testified to the Son of Man who was to die."
GIFTS OF THE MAGI
The Magi presented Jesus with gold, frankincense and myrrh. These gifts were very prophetic for they spoke of our Lord's offices of King, Priest, and Savior.
GOLD: This carries obvious significance. It's precious and worthy across all cultures and times. It's a gift fit for royalty. It says to the Christ child, You will be a King. Gold was the usual offering presented to kings by their subjects, or those wanting to pay respect. It seems that the metal we know as gold has always held extremely high value - as long ago as 2,500 BC, gold was especially prized, and used as a medium of exchange.
FRANKINCENSE: The name for this resin likely comes from incense of Franks since it was reintroduced to Europe by Frankish Crusaders. Although it is better known as frankincense" to westerners the resin is also known as olibanum, which is derived from the Arabic al-lub ("the milk") a reference to the milky sap tapped from the Boswellia tree. Frankincense has been touted for its medicinal and soothing properties. Herbalists say it is calming, restorative, gently clarifying, and meditative. Frankincense oil is thought to have stimulating, toning, and warming properties. The ancient world used it for treating depression. We recognize the word incense in its name. Ancient people burned frankincense, believing it to carry their prayers to heaven. Its use as incense illustrates His role as our Priest.
MYRRH: This is perhaps the most mysterious of the Gifts. It is a resin produced by a small, tough, scraggly tree that grows in semi-desert regions of North Africa and the Red Sea. Myrrh is an Arabic word for bitter, and it is considered a wound healer because of its strong antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Calling it mo yao, the Chinese used it for centuries to treat wounds, bruises and bleeding and to relieve painful swelling.
EPIPHANY - Epiphany Sunday (Green)
If Three Kings Day does not fall on a Sunday the following Sunday is Epiphany Sunday and the celebration begins then.
One of the traditions of the season is the eating of the King Cake. The King Cake tradition comes in a number of styles. The most simple, said to be the most traditional, is a ring of twisted bread similar to that used in brioche, topped with icing or sugar, usually coloured purple, green, and gold (the colors of both Epiphany and Lent). Some varieties have filling inside, the most common being cream cheese followed by marzipan.
The day for eating King Cake is Epiphany Sunday (the 1st Sunday in the Epiphany Season). Some organizations or groups of friends may have king cake every week throughout the season.
There is a trinket in one slice of cake (put there after baking). In some cultures it is a coin; in others it is "the baby" (a small plastic baby Jesus). Whoever gets the trinket has to buy the next King Cake.
King Cakes in New Orleans are documented back to the 18th Century and the bakeries there make thousands of King Cakes to be shipped worldwide at: http://www.kingcake.com/.
It is a common misconception that the wise men came and visited Jesus shortly after His birth. In fact, the wise men came months (or possibly as much as two years) later, when Joseph and Mary had already settled in Nazareth. That is why Matthew 2:11 says the wise men visited and worshipped Jesus in a house. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and the wise men likely witnessed the "Star of Bethlehem" at the time Jesus was born. The wise men did not arrive in Israel for a significant amount of time after Jesus was born. During that time, Joseph and Mary had returned to live in Nazareth (Matthew 2:13-20). That is also why Herod ordered all the boys in Bethlehem under two years of age to be killed (Matthew 2:16). Herod did not know that Jesus was no longer in Bethlehem, and did not know that the star had reappeared to the wise men and redirected them to Nazareth
EPIPHANY - The HolyTheophany
or Feast of Baptism of The Lord (green)
The Holy Theophany commemorates Jesus’ baptism. In some churches the day is celebrated on the Sunday closest to January 19th.
Why did Jesus need to be baptized? There was no sin to wash away. He did not need forgiveness. When he approached John the Baptist for baptism the prophet objected "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus insisted "Let it be so now, for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness". Some people think that means Jesus insisted on being baptized by John as a duty, or a way of identifying himself with humanity, or as an example for us. There maybe some truth in those suggestions, but obviously his baptism was the very major turning point that began Jesus' ministry at the age of thirty.
What Jesus wanted was that his enrolled disciples would begin to learn in the school of the Holy Spirit.
The Feast commemorates not only the Baptism of Christ but the divine revelation of the Holy Trinity. At the Baptism of Christ, all three Persons of the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—were made manifest. Thus, the name of the season is Epiphany, meaning manifestation, and the feast is Theophany, meaning manifestation of God.
The Biblical story of the Baptism of Christ is recorded in all four of the Gospels: Matthew 3, Mark 1:1-9, Luke 3:21-22, and John 1:31-34.
Immediately after his baptism Jesus was "led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil" (Matthew 4:1).
EPIPHANY - The Wedding Feast at Cana
Each year the Church celebrates the Epiphany of the Lord, the arrival of the Magi to the Infant Jesus. But that is the merely the first of three epiphany moments. The second is the Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan, where God the Father calls out from Heaven: "This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." The third and final epiphany moment is the Wedding Feast at Cana.
Marriage at Cana or Wedding at Cana is an event reported by the Gospel of John but not by any of the Synoptic Gospels. John reports that Jesus was attending a wedding in Cana with his disciples for the Jewish rite of purification. When the hosts ran out of wine, Jesus' mother (unnamed in John's Gospel) told Jesus, "They have no more wine." Jesus replied, "Dear woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come." Jesus' mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you" (John 2:3-5). Jesus ordered the servants to fill the empty containers with water. When they had done so, Jesus told them to draw out some of it and take it to the chief waiter. After tasting the water that had become wine and not knowing what Jesus had done, he told the bridegroom that he had departed from the custom of serving the best wine first by serving it last (John 2:6-10). This was the first miracle of Jesus and it was performed to reveal his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him (John 2:11).
This first miraculous sign shows us that Jesus came to bless mankind. Mankind lost God’s blessing of the Garden of Eden since sin came into the world. But in this passage Jesus demonstrates that he came to this world to bless all mankind, just as he blessed the wedding at Cana in Galilee. Many people think the Christian life is serious, with no fun. But that’s not the case. Christians are like really joyful people who enjoy the joy of a wedding all the time. Christian couples are all still in a honeymoon mood. The wedding feast symbolizes a character of the Kingdom of God.
Through this first miraculous sign Jesus also manifests that he came to this world to change useless people into useful people. As Jesus changed water into wine, so Jesus transforms those who come to him. We can fix an old machine and use it, but we can’t fix a person. However, we can become new creations when we believe in Jesus (2Cor 5:17). Jesus revealed his transforming power when he changed water into wine. Each person must be changed in Jesus. Otherwise he cannot see Jesus. He cannot see the kingdom of God. May God help us to come to Jesus and be changed into useful servants by the transforming power of Jesus!
EPIPHANY - TRANSFIGURATION SUNDAY
"After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There He was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, 'Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters - one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.' (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: 'This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!' Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead" (Mark 9:2-9).
The account of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ as recorded here in Mark (parallel passages are found in Matthew 17:1-3 and Luke 9:28-36) is a demonstration to three witnesses that Jesus Christ was who He claimed to be. In all three accounts of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ, we are given the names of the three disciples who accompanied Jesus and who stood as human witnesses to the glory that was Christ's. There were also three heavenly witnesses, Moses, Elijah, and the voice of God from heaven. Therefore, the Old Testament law of three witnesses required to attest to any fact (Deuteronomy 19:15) was satisfied both in earth and in heaven.
In the case of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ it means to match the outside with the reality of the inside. To change the outward so that it matches the inward reality. Jesus' divine nature was "veiled" (Hebrews 10:20) in human form and the transfiguration was a glimpse of that glory. Therefore, the transfiguration of Jesus Christ displayed the Shekinah glory of God incarnate in the Son. The voice of God attesting to the truth of Jesus' Sonship was the second time God's voice was heard. The first time was at Jesus' baptism into His public ministry by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:7; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22).
In some liturgical calendars (e.g. the Lutheran and United Methodist), the last Sunday in the Epiphany Season (that immediately preceding Ash Wednesday).
FAT TUESDAY (green/gold/purple)
It is the last day of the Epiphany Season (green) and the eve of the Lenten Season (purple). It is also called Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras, literally "Fat Tuesday," has grown in popularity in recent years as a raucous, sometimes hedonistic event. But its roots lie in the Christian calendar, as the "last hurrah" before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. That's why the enormous party in New Orleans, for example, ends abruptly at midnight on Tuesday, with battalions of streetsweepers pushing the crowds out of the French Quarter towards home.
It is also called "Carnival". It comes from the Latin words carne vale, meaning "farewell to the flesh." Like many holidays and seasonal celebrations, it likely has its roots in pre-Christian traditions based on the seasons. Some believe the festival represented the few days added to the lunar calendar to make it coincide with the solar calendar; since these days were outside the calendar, rules and customs were not obeyed. Others see it as a late-winter celebration designed to welcome the coming spring. As early as the middle of the second century, the Romans observed a Fast of 40 Days, which was preceded by a brief season of feasting, costumes and merrymaking. The day is also known as Shrove Tuesday (from "to shrive," or hear confessions), Pancake Tuesday and fetter Dienstag.
National Pancake Day
Pancake Tuesday dates back several centuries to when the English prepped for fasting during Lent. Strict rules prohibited the eating of all dairy products during Lent, so pancakes were made to use up the supply of eggs, milk, butter and other dairy products... hence the name Pancake Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday.
Since beginning its National Pancake Day celebration in 2006, IHOP has raised nearly $4 million to support charities in the communities in which it operates. They hope to raise $5 million in five years for Children's Miracle Network through donations in 2010!
LENT - Ash Wednesday (purple)
In the Western Christian calendar, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and occurs forty days before Easter (excluding Sundays). It falls on a different date each year, because it is dependent on the date of Easter; it can occur as early as February 4 or as late as March 10.
Ash Wednesday gets its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of the faithful as a sign of repentance. The ashes used are gathered after the Palm Crosses from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burned.
Lent has traditionally been marked by penitential prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Some churches today still observe a rigid schedule of fasting on certain days during Lent, especially the giving up of meat, alcohol, sweets, and other types of food. Other traditions do not place as great an emphasis on fasting, but focus on charitable deeds, especially helping those in physical need with food and clothing, or simply the giving of money to charities. Most Christian churches that observe Lent at all focus on it as a time of prayer, especially penance, repenting for failures and sin as a way to focus on the need for God’s grace. It is really a preparation to celebrate God’s marvelous redemption at Easter, and the resurrected life that we live, and hope for, as Christians.
Lent is marked by a time of prayer and preparation to celebrate Easter. Since Sundays celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the six Sundays that occur during Lent are not counted as part of the 40 days of Lent, and are referred to as the Sundays in Lent. The number 40 is connected with many biblical events, but especially with the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for His ministry by facing the temptations that could lead him to abandon his mission and calling. Christians today use this period of time for introspection, self examination, and repentance.
To most twentieth century Christians fasting seems strange, because for nearly a century and a half fasting has been considered a spiritual exercise to be practiced by only those thought to be "extreme" and "fanatical."
However, fasting is a scriptural truth, even though it has been dormant and not traditionally practiced. After New Testament days as spirituality waned and worldliness flourished, the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit were not used or withdrawn, many of the early spiritual practices of the early church were soon forgotten.
Today, we are experiencing a recovering of some of the lost 'secrets' of the early church and the power that is let loose through true Biblical revival. Fasting is included in this recover of New Testaments channel of power. We shout be open to receive and willing to obey fresh light from God, and so grow in the knowledge the Word and truth. Fasting is a God-appointed means for the flowing of His grace and power that we can afford to neglect no longer.
With the recovering of scriptural truth (in regards to fasting) there are two dangers to avoid:
. To give fasting an importance out of proportion to Scriptural teaching, to exaggerate and overemphasize it.
. To resist with misgivings and inhibitions concerning something "new" because it seems different to our traditional attitude and prejudices (I Cor. 4:6).
Fasting is important even though it is a major Bible doctrine. It is not a not a foundational stone of the faith, nor is it a "cure-all" for all spiritual ills. But, it is an exercise for Christians today. However, when exercised with a pure heart and a right motive fasting may:
. Provide a key to unlock doors where other keys have not.
. Provide a window opening up new horizons of spiritual experiences.
. Provide a spiritual weapon from God for the struggle with sin.
I. WHAT IS FASTING? - (Isa. 58:6; Matt. 4:2)
Fasting is the spiritual exercise of practicing self-discipline (the denial of food, and/or things and persons); and the exercise of the heart before God in order to minister to and to glorify God. It is done unto God, at His choosing and leading, to wait upon Him for His unmerited grace. It is to be God-initiated, like a burden is placed on us by the Holy Spirit for praying.
II. WHEN...NOT IF - (Matt. 6:16-18)
Jesus taught His disciples to fast. He warned about practicing our giving, praying, and fasting before men for their praise (Matt. 6:1-18). He did not say "If you fast", but "when you fast". He left no doubt that His disciples would obey the leading of the Spirit in this exercise.
Jesus mentions fasting as a separate exercise distinct from praying. Fasting and praying are often linked in Scripture, and in experience; but they do not always have to go together. There may be times of praying without fasting, and times of fasting without unusual praying. It may not be possible to give oneself to prayer for the whole time of fasting.
III. REASON FOR FASTING- (Zech. 7:5; Acts 13:2)
We are to inquire of God whether He would not have us separate ourselves unto Him in fasting, and for these reasons:
. For personal consecration - (Psa. 69:10; Matt. 5:4; Acts 13:3; 14:23)
. To be heard on high - (Jer. 29:13,14; Ezra 8:23; Jn. 4:8,31-34)
. To change God's mind - (II Sam. 12:16,22; Jonah 3:5,10)
. To free and deliver the captives - (Isa. 49:24; 58:6)
. For revelation, understanding, wisdom - (Dan. 9:2,3,21,22; II Cor. 11:27; Acts 27:21-24)
. For enduement of power, for spiritual gifts
. To buffet the body - (I Cor. 9:27; 6:13 20; Rom. 13:14)
. For physical health and healing - (I Sam. 30:11-15; Psa. 35:13; III John 2)
In fasting we deny the physical for the spiritual; and may overcome physical drive and habits and temptations; we are release from the grip of sin, our mind is more alert to God, and God will hear us.
However, a right act done with the wrong attitude is not acceptable to God. Jesus warned not to be like the Pharisees (in giving, praying, fasting) with a show of piety, self-seeking, and desiring the applause of men.
IV. THREE BIBLICAL FORMS -
. Normal or regular fast - (Matt. 4:2 Luke 4:2)
The abstaining from all forms of food, but not water or sleep. Can be at regular intervals, one day a week, or longer; or for a period of time at regular intervals.
. Absolute Fast - (Acts 9:9)
The abstaining from drink as wells as eating (usually no longer than three days). The body needs water more than it needs food.
. Partial fast - (Dan. 1:5; 19:3)
The restriction of diet, not to be defiled by rich food or drink (as three Hebrew children, sacrifices used to pagan gods). Many variations in regards to time, food, circumstances.
Fasting is not advisable:
In cases of serious undernourishment, underweight
By expectant mothers
By diabetes patients using insulin.
Cleansing of the Temple
The narrative of the "Cleansing of the Temple" tells of Jesus and the money changers, and occurs in all four canonical gospels of the New Testament.
In this Gospel episode Jesus and his disciples travel to Jerusalem for Passover, where he expels the money changers from the Temple, accusing them of turning the Temple into a den of thieves through their commercial activities. In the Gospel of John Jesus refers to the Temple as "my Father’s house", thus, in some views, making a claim to being the Son of God, although it is common in the Abrahamic religions to refer to God as God the Father
In Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47 Jesus accused the Temple authorities of thieving and this time names poor widows as their victims, going on to provide evidence of this in Mark 12:42 and Luke 21:2. Dove sellers were selling doves that were sacrificed by the poor who could not afford grander sacrifices and specifically by women. According to Mark 11:16, Jesus then put an embargo on people carrying any merchandise through the Temple—a sanction that would have disrupted all commerce. This occurred in the outermost court of the gentiles. Gentile money could not be used at the Temple because of the graven images on it. Gentiles who had converted to Judaism were charged an additional fee for the change to Jewish money and sometimes given unhealthy animals to sacrifice. Jesus became indignant over the treatment of the animals as well as the treatment of the converted gentiles, which was in violation of Isaiah 56:6-7.
Mark 11:18 - The chief priests and scribes heard it, and sought how they might destroy him, for they feared him, becausen all the people was astonished at his doctrine.
LENT - Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday (PURPLE)
This season of the year is equal only to the Season of Advent in importance in the Christian year, and is part of the second major grouping of Christian festivals and sacred time that includes Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost. The color used in the sanctuary for most of Lent is purple, red violet, or dark violet. These colors symbolize both the pain and suffering leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus as well as the suffering of humanity and the world under sin. But purple is also the color of royalty, and so anticipates through the suffering and death of Jesus the coming resurrection and hope of newness that will be celebrated in the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Holy Week This is the last week of Lent, the week immediately preceding Easter Sunday. It is observed in many Christian churches as a time to commemorate and enact the suffering (Passion) and death of Jesus through various observances and services of worship. While some church traditions focus specifically on the events of the last week of Jesus’ life, many of the liturgies symbolize larger themes that marked Jesus’ entire ministry. Observances during this week range from daily liturgical services in churches to informal meetings in homes to participate in a Christian version of the Passover Seder. In Catholic tradition, the conclusion to the week is called the Easter Triduum (a triduum is a space of three days usually accompanying a church festival or holy days that are devoted to special prayer and observance). Some liturgical traditions, such as Lutherans, simply refer to "The Three Days." The Easter Triduum begins Thursday evening of Holy Week with Eucharist and concludes with evening prayers Easter Sunday.
LENT - Holy Wednesday (PURPLE)
In Western Christianity, the Wednesday before Easter is sometimes known as "Spy Wednesday", as a reference to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot, indicating that it is the day that Judas Iscariot first conspired with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus for thirty silver coins.
This event is described in the three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-12, Luke 22:3-6.
The Sanhedrin was gathered together and it decided to kill Jesus, even before Pesach if possible. In the meantime, Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper. Here he was anointed on his head by a woman with very expensive ointment of spikenard. In John's Gospel, this woman is identified as Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Some of the disciples, particularly Judas, were indignant about this. Judas went to the Sanhedrin and offered them his support in exchange for money. From this moment on, Judas was looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.
LENT - Maundy Thursday (PURPLE)
Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday
The colors for Maundy Thursday are usually the colors of Lent, royal purple or red violet. Some traditions, however, use red for Maundy Thursday, the color of the church, in order to identify with the community of disciples that followed Jesus. Along the same line, some use this day to honor the apostles who were commissioned by Jesus to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world. The sharing of the Eucharist, or sacrament of thanksgiving, on Maundy Thursday is the means by which most Christians observe this day. There is a great variety in exactly how the service is conducted, however. In some churches, it is traditional for the pastor or priest to wash the feet of members of the congregation as part of the service. Increasingly, churches are observing some form of the Passover Seder as a setting for the Eucharist of Maundy Thursday (see Introduction to a Christian Seder and Haggadah for a Christian Seder). Some churches simply have a "pot-luck" dinner together concluded with a short time of singing and communion.
In some church traditions all of the altar coverings and decorations are removed after the Eucharist is served on Maundy Thursday. Since the altar in these traditions symbolize the Christ, the "stripping of the altar" symbolizes the abandonment of Jesus by his disciples and the stripping of Jesus by the soldiers prior to his crucifixion. This, like the darkness often incorporated into a Good Friday service, represents the humiliation of Jesus and the consequences of sin as a preparation for the celebration of new life and hope that is to come on Resurrection Day. Some churches only leave the altar bare until the Good Friday Service, when the normal coverings are replaced with black. However it is celebrated, the Eucharist of Maundy Thursday is especially tied to the theme of remembering. As Jesus and his disciples followed the instructions in the Torah to remember God’s acts of deliverance in their history as they shared the Passover meal together, so Jesus calls us to remember the new act of deliverance in our history that unfolds on these last days of Holy week.
LENT- Good Friday (black)
Friday of Holy Week has been traditionally been called Good Friday or Holy Friday. On this day, the church commemorates Jesus’ arrest (since by Jewish customs of counting days from sundown to sundown it was already Friday), his trial, crucifixion and suffering, death, and burial. Since services on this day are to observe Jesus’ death, and since Eucharist is a celebration, there is traditionally no Communion observed on Good Friday. Also, depending on how the services are conducted on this day, all pictures, statutes, and the cross are covered in mourning black, the chancel and altar coverings are replaced with black, and altar candles are extinguished. They are left this way through Saturday, but are always replaced with white before sunrise on Sunday.There are a variety of services of worship for Good Friday, all aimed at allowing worshippers to experience some sense of the pain, humiliation, and ending in the journey to the cross. The traditional Catholic service for Good Friday was held in mid-afternoon to correspond to the final words of Jesus from the cross (around 3 PM, Matt 27:46-50). However, modern schedules have led many churches to move the service to the evening to allow more people to participate. Usually, a Good Friday service is a series of Scripture readings, a short homily, and a time of meditation and prayer.
One traditional use of Scripture is to base the homily or devotional on the Seven Last Words (or expressions) of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel traditions.
Father, forgive them . . . (Luke 23:34)
This day you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43)
Woman, behold your son . . .(John 19:26-27)
My God, my God . . . (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34)
I thirst. (John 19:28)
It is finished! (John 19:30)
Father into your hands . . . (Luke 23:46)
Hot Cross Bun
A hot cross bun, or cross-bun, is a type of sweet spiced bun made with currants or raisins and leavened with yeast. It has a cross marked on the top which might be effected in one of a variety of ways including: pastry, flour and water mixture, rice paper, icing, or intersecting cuts.
In many historically Christian countries, buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, with the cross standing as a symbol of the crucifixion. They are believed by some to pre-date Christianity, although the first recorded use of the term "hot cross bun" is not until 1733.
According to cookery writer Elizabeth David, Protestant English monarchs saw the buns as a dangerous hold-over of Catholic belief in England, being baked from the dough used in making the communion wafer. Protestant England attempted to ban the sale of the buns by bakers but they were too popular, and instead Elizabeth I passed a law permitting bakeries to sell them, but only at Easter and Christmas.
In the United States, hot cross buns sometimes include candied citron in addition to the raisins or currants. In both Australia and New Zealand recently a chocolate version of the bun has become popular. They generally contain the same mixture of spices but chocolate chips are used instead of currants. This is due to the close association between Easter and chocolate, or simply to a love of chocolate in general.
An old tradition states that sharing a hot cross bun with another is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if "Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be" is said at the time.
LENT - Holy Saturday
This is the seventh day of the week, the day Jesus rested in the tomb. In the first three Gospel accounts this was the Jewish Sabbath, which provided appropriate symbolism of the seventh day rest. While some church traditions continue daily services on Saturday, there is no communion served on this day. Some traditions suspend services and Scripture readings during the day on Saturday, to be resumed at the Easter Vigil after sundown Saturday. It is traditionally a day of quiet meditation as Christians contemplate the darkness of a world without a future and without hope apart from God and his grace. It is also a time to remember family and the faithful who have died as we await the resurrection, or to honor the martyrs who have given their lives for the cause of Christ in the world. While Good Friday is a traditional day of fasting, some also fast on Saturday as the climax of the season of Lent. An ancient tradition dating to the first centuries of the church calls for no food of any kind to be eaten on Holy Saturday, or for 40 hours before sunrise on Sunday. However it is observed, Holy Saturday has traditionally been a time of reflection and waiting, the time of weeping that lasts for the night while awaiting the joy that comes in the morning (Psa 30:5).
Jesus descended into hell and set the captives free. (The Apostles’ Creed, Ephesians 4:8). Death was put to death while soldiers were guarding His tomb. (Matthew 27:62-66) .
Did you ever wonder what happened to the poor souls who happened to live before the cross? The Old Testament is filled with flawed people who walked by faith, but did not have the advantage of the free gift of salvation that God provided for all of us who put our trust in Jesus. What about those who had never heard the name of Jesus? If Jesus is the only way to God as we believe that he is, how can they be saved?
On Saturday, Jesus set those people free who lived before the cross and they share in the same benefits of the cross. Hebrews says Jesus died “once for all”. He died once for all people and once for all time. The crucifixtion is a timeless event that forgives all people of all time who walk by faith.
THE SECULAR NATURE OF EASTER
As with almost all "Christian" holidays, Easter has been secularized and commercialized. The dichotomous nature of Easter and its symbols, however, is not necessarily a modern fabrication. Since its conception as a holy celebration in the second century, Easter has had its non-religious side. In fact, Easter was originally a pagan festival. The ancient Saxons celebrated the return of spring with an uproarious festival commemorating their goddess of of spring and of springtime, Eastre. When the second-century Christian missionaries encountered the tribes of the north with their pagan celebrations, they attempted to convert them to Christianity. They did so, however, in a clandestine manner.
It would have been suicide for the very early Christian converts to celebrate their holy days with observances that did not coincide with celebrations that already existed. To save lives, the missionaries cleverly decided to spread their religious message slowly throughout the populations by allowing them to continue to celebrate pagan feasts, but to do so in a Christian manner. As it happened, the pagan festival of Eastre occurred at the same time of year as the Christian observance of the Resurrection of Christ. It made sense, therefore, to alter the festival itself, to make it a Christian celebration as converts were slowly won over. The early name, Eastre, was eventually changed to its modern spelling, Easter.
The Date of Easter
Prior to A.D. 325, Easter was variously celebrated on different days of the week, including Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. In that year, the Council of Nicaea was convened by emperor Constantine. It issued the Easter Rule which states that Easter shall be celebrated on the first Sunday that occurs after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. Easter must be celebrated on a Sunday between the dates of March 22 and April 25.
The Easter Bunny
The Easter Bunny is not a modern invention. The symbol originated with the pagan festival of Eastre. The goddess, Eastre, was worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons through her earthly symbol, the rabbit. The Germans brought the symbol of the Easter rabbit to America. It was widely ignored by other Christians until shortly after the Civil War. In fact, Easter itself was not widely celebrated in America until after that time.
The Easter Egg
As with the Easter Bunny and the holiday itself, the Easter Egg predates the Christian holiday of Easter. The exchange of eggs in the springtime is a custom that was centuries old when Easter was first celebrated by Christians. From the earliest times, the egg was a symbol of rebirth in most cultures. Eggs were often wrapped in gold leaf or, if you were a peasant, colored brightly by boiling them with the leaves or petals of certain flowers. Today, children hunt colored eggs and place them in Easter baskets along with the modern version of real Easter eggs -- those made of plastic or chocolate candy.
1st Sunday - Resurrection Sunday
Easter or Resurrection Sunday is the day Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus the Christ from the dead. Even before theologians explained the death of Jesus in terms of various atonement theories, the early church saw his resurrection as the central witness to a new act of God in history and the victory of God in vindicating Jesus as the Messiah. This event marks the central faith confession of the early church and was the focal point for Christian worship, observed on the first day of each week since the first century (Acts 20:7; Sunday was officially proclaimed the day of Christian worship in AD 321). Easter as an annual celebration of the Resurrection that lies at the center of a liturgical year has been observed at least since the fourth century.
Even in churches that traditionally do not observe the other historic seasons of the church year. Easter has occupied a central place as the high point of Christian worship.
In the Christian church year, the two major cycles of seasons, Christmas and Easter, are far more than a single day of observance. Like Christmas, Easter itself is a period of time rather than just a day. It is actually a seven-week season of the church year called Eastertide, the Great Fifty Days ( also called the Week of Weeks) that begins at sundown the evening before Easter Sunday (the Easter Vigil) and lasts for six more Sundays until Pentecost Sunday. These seven Sundays are called the Sundays of Easter, climaxing on the seventh Sunday, the Sunday before Pentecost Sunday.
2nd Sunday - Divine Mercy Sunday
The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter is John 20:19-31 It is not hard to figure out why: Verses 26-29 (the "doubting Thomas" account) are explicitly (and uniquely, among the gospels) dated to one week after Easter. The reading includes three distinct, though hardly separate, parts: vv. 19-23, Jesus' gifts of the Holy Spirit and of the "office of the keys" to the disciples; vv. 24-29, Thomas's skepticism and later faith; and v. 30f., the evangelist's explicit statement of the purpose of the book (and, likely enough, its original terminus). The term Doubting Thomas is based on the Biblical account of Thomas the Apostle, who doubted the resurrection of Jesus and demanded to feel Jesus' wounds before being convinced (John 20:24-29), although the Bible does not mention if actual contact took place. After seeing Jesus alive and being offered the opportunity to touch his wounds — according to the author of the Gospel of John — Thomas professed his faith in Jesus; on this account he is also called Thomas the Believer.
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. John 21:6
According to John’s gospel, after the Passover in Jerusalem and the momentous happenings of Easter, Peter and some other disciples went home to Galilee and their fishing boats. On the familiar waters of the lake they knew so well, they went fishing.
But after a night when they caught no fish, common sense told them it was time to sail for home. Then, they heard the voice of Jesus, telling them to throw their nets over the boat's right side into the waters. Suddenly, the nets filled with fish and the catch was so large that the disciples could hardly bring it ashore. When they reached land, Jesus had a charcoal fire burning with fish on it and bread, and he invited them to eat.
Does the story suggest the surprising riches that Jesus, our Risen Lord, offers us, even when common sense tells us to expect little or nothing? Certainly, his gifts surprised his disciples at the end of that fruitless night. In the mystery of his resurrection, Jesus reveals that life conquers death. But he also brings new dimensions to our lives beyond human plans and expectations. The Risen Lord is a God of surprises. And, as we see in his encounter with Peter, he is a God of surprising love.
The church prefers symbolic images to consider Jesus during the Easter season. “I am the vine,” “I am the Bread of Life,” and the description in the gospel for today: “I am the Good Shepherd.” That’s because we know Jesus now, not by seeing him, but through signs and symbols. Though risen, he is hidden. “I am the Good Shepherd.” The Old Testament describes God an his relationship to Israel using this same image. So, Psalm 21 begins “The Lord is my Shepherd.”
Jesus, as our Risen Lord, takes up this same role, but his flock goes beyond the people of Israel. Now a world-wide flock is his, and his search for lost sheep goes beyond one nation’s borders. All humanity belongs in his fold. Far from detaching Jesus from our world, the mystery of the resurrection expands his reach. One sign of his abiding presence in the world is his church, which has its beginning in his resurrection and will continue his mission in time.
The church, like Israel before it, has its promised Shepherd who leads it through dark valleys and paths unknown, until it enters “green pastures.” We may be like sheep feeding with eyes set on the small plot of life before us, our minds hardly aware a world redeemed by Jesus Christ. But the Good Shepherd is never far away. Though we do not see him, he leads us — the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls.
What does he say? First, he assures us he is close to us. Like a vine giving life to its branches, he remain with us for all ages and his life flows into ours. Though we don’t see him, he does not leave us orphans. His Spirit dwells in us. Listen to him, too, saying over and over that we should love one another. Our love should be like his, he says, a love so great as to lay down our lives for each other. This same teaching is expressed in the Eucharist, where Jesus gives his body and blood lovingly, in the signs of bread and wine. By sharing himself with us in these signs, his love enlivens ours.
When you come down to it, faith is a simple song that Jesus who is Risen continues to sing to us, till we learn it by heart
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
6th Sunday - The Promise of The Paraclete
Young, middle aged, or senior citizens, many of us are forgetful. Knowing this, Jesus says in today's Gospel, “The Paraclete, whom the Father will send in my name, will instruct you in everything, and remind you of all that I told you.” What a beautiful reminder, coming from the mouth of Jesus!
Have we forgotten that we are born in the image and likeness of God? That we are children of God through Baptism? Do we remember the words of Jesus, “Pray always.”? It's so easy to forget the most serious and difficult challenges of Jesus, “Unless you take up your daily cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.” When our bodies are racked in pain, when our marriage is falling apart, when there is a crisis of faith as an individual or in our family, do we remind ourselves of the words of Jesus, “My Grace is sufficient for you”?
Yes, it is only human to forget. But these areas, plus many others, are spiritual values. Jesus is aware of our weakness. He knows we need divine assistance. In a sweeping statement, he said, “Without me, you can do nothing.” Nothing! So he promises to send us the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, who will remind us of everything he has told us. The famed Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, gives us a charming meaning of the word Paraclete, “Cheerleader,” a God who cheers us on whenever we do forget.
7th Sunday - Ascension Sunday
Ascension Sunday marks not only the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, but his exaltation from servanthood to Ruler and Lord as the fitting climax of Resurrection Day (Eph 1:20-22). The Sanctuary colors for Easter Sunday and Ascension Day are white and gold, the colors of sacred days throughout the church year. For the Easter season, white symbolizes the hope of the resurrection, as well as the purity and newness that comes from victory over sin and death. The gold (or yellow) symbolizes the light of the world brought by the risen Christ that enlightens the world, as well as the exaltation of Jesus as Lord and King. The sanctuary color for the other five Sundays of Easter is usually also white and gold.
Just before the Ascension, Jesus said the last words on earth, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the earth" (Act.1:8).
This promise was fulfilled ten days later at Pentecost and the disciples were the witnesses of Jesus the Christ to the end of the earth then known, up to Spain, and in 32 years as it is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.
After the Ascension, the disciples were gazing up to Heaven, and two angels appeared and said to them, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up to the sky"? This Jesus who has been taken from you to heaven, will return in the same way as you have seen him go there".
And the Promise is also for you and for me, you and I have to be witnesses of Jesus with the power of the Spirit to the end of the earth now known… and the Christians are doing that, right now.
1st Sunday - Whitsunday (red)
The Church celebrates Pentecost (so called because it is fifty days after Easter Sunday) as the day on which the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles, gathered in an upper room with Mary, mother of Jesus, "as a mighty, rushing wind", fulfilling Jesus' promise when he "breathed on them", as recorded in John's Gospel (chapter 20).
This event, which marks the beginning of the Church, is recorded in the book of Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2.
The Holy Spirit gave the apostles gifts of grace through which they would undertake the evangelical mission of the Church. On the day of Pentecost, the apostles were given the miraculous "gift of tongues" -- so that everyone from every country understood the Christians inspired message of salvation as if the they were hearing it in their own languages. Thousands were converted by the preaching of Peter and the other apostles.
Called Whitsunday (White Sunday) in England, for the white garments worn by confirmands (candidates for Confirmation), Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks, originated as a Jewish festival fifty days (seven weeks) after Passover. since the time of Josephus; it was calculated as beginning on the fiftieth day after the beginning of Passover. In the Christian calendar, it falls on the seventh Sunday after Easter. It was called the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), and in the Old Testament was originally an agricultural festival celebrating and giving thanks for the "first fruits" of the early spring harvest (Lev 23, Exod 23, 34).
The sanctuary color for Pentecost is red, the color of the church. Technically, red is used only for the Sundays of Pentecost, although some churches use red for all the days between Pentecost Sunday and Kingdomtide. The red symbolizes both, the fire of Pentecost, as well as the apostles and early followers of Jesus who were gathered in the Upper Room for the empowerment from God to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world.
2nd Sunday - Trinity Sunday (red)
"What is Trinity Sunday?" Trinity Sunday is the first Sunday after Pentecost Sunday to honor the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Trinity, although the word does not appear in Scripture, is taught in Matthew 28:18-20 and 2 Corinthians 13:14 (and many of Biblical passages). It can never be understood or rationalized, but can only be accepted by faith. Faith comes through the work of the Holy Spirit and therefore it is appropriate that this mystery is celebrated the first Sunday after the Pentecost where the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit first occurred.
The Christian Church ponders with joy and thanksgiving what the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have done to accomplish the salvation of sinful humanity. It is brought to remembrance how Christians should respond to the love God has shown us, praising Him and giving Him glory. We remember the Father as our Creator, the Son as our Savior and the Holy Spirit as our comforter. Scriptural readings for the Trinity Sunday ceremony may include Psalm 8, beginning and ending with, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name is all the earth.” 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 appealing to believers to aim for perfection, live in peace ending with the prayer that the grace of Christ Jesus, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all. Including again the commission Jesus left for believers in Matthew 28:16-20.
The Trinity, three persons in one God, is the basic mystery of our faith far beyond human understanding. Today, Trinity Sunday is to explain, to the best of man’s ability, the clues written in Scripture fro us to guide us to a fuller understanding. The Father is God from the beginning (John 1:1); Jesus revealed Himself as equal to the Father in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” Together they sent the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). “For there are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one” (1 John 5:7-11).
PENTECOST SEASON (red)
For Christians, Pentecost is a time to celebrate hope, a hope evoked by the knowledge that God through His Holy Spirit is at work among His people. It is a celebration of newness, of recreation, of renewal of purpose, mission, and calling as God’s people. It is a celebration of God’s ongoing work in the world. Yet, it is also a recognition that His work is done through His people as He pours out His presence upon them.
In various religions, most notably mainstream Christianity, the Holy Spirit (Hebrew: רוח הקודש Ruah haqodesh; Latin: Spiritus Sancti; also called the Holy Ghost) is the third consubstantial Person of the Holy Trinity. As such, the Holy Spirit is God himself, a form of God, or a manifestation of God. The word "Spirit" commonly translates the Greek New Testament word pneuma (Greek: πνεύμα). It is important to remember that Scripture on the Holy Spirit can be viewed by different sects of Christians in different ways. In Christianity, following the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is the One who guides a person to correctly interpret the word of God and He helps each person reach new levels of understanding. Since He knows each person perfectly and it is understood that people think differently, He can transfer information to people in ways that they would comprehend it (Acts of the Apostles 2:7).
The Holy Spirit is different from Jesus in that He does not have a physical manifestation (or incarnation), and that He frequently dwells in and amongst God's people as a spiritual guide or a Comforter.
Christians believe that the Holy Spirit leads people to faith in Jesus and gives them the ability to lead a Christian life. The Spirit dwells inside every true Christian, each one's body being His temple (1 Corinthians 3:16). The Holy Spirit is depicted as a 'Counselor' or 'Helper' (paracletus in Latin, derived from Greek), guiding people in the way of the truth. The Spirit's action in one's life is believed to produce positive results, known as the Fruit of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit manifests these gifts by enabling a person to access his or her own innate abilities. Through the influence of the Holy Spirit a person sees more clearly the world around him or her and can use his or her mind and body in ways that exceed his or her previous capacity. A list of gifts that may be bestown include the charismatic gifts of prophecy, tongues, healing, and knowledge. These gifts can not be viewed as purely charismatic however. Christians holding a view known as cessationism believe these gifts were given only in New Testament times. Christians almost universally agree that certain more mundane "spiritual gifts" are still in effect today, including the gifts of ministry, teaching, giving, leadership, and mercy (see, e.g. Romans 12:6-8). In some sects of Christianity, the experience of the Holy Spirit is referred to as being "anointed".
Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as the promised "Comforter" (i.e. "strengthener", "fortifier") in John 14:26. After His resurrection, Christ told His disciples that they would be "baptized with the Holy Ghost", and would receive power from this event (Acts 1:4-8), a promise that was fulfilled in the events recounted in the second chapter of Acts. On the first Pentecost, Jesus' disciples were gathered in Jerusalem when a mighty wind was heard and tongues of fire appeared over their heads. A multilingual crowd heard the disciples speaking, and each of them heard them speaking in his or her native language.
In John's Gospel, emphasis is placed not upon what the Holy Spirit did for Jesus, but upon Jesus giving the Spirit to His disciples. This "Higher" Christology, most influential in later development of Trinitarian doctrine, sees Jesus as a sacrificial lamb, and as coming among mankind in order to grant the Spirit of God to humanity.
Although the language used to describe Jesus' receiving the Spirit in John's Gospel is parallel to the accounts in the other three Gospels, John relates this with the aim of showing that Jesus is especially in possession of the Spirit for the purpose of granting the Spirit to His followers, uniting them with Himself, and in Himself also uniting them with the Father. In John, the gift of the Spirit is equivalent to eternal life, knowledge of God, power to obey, and communion with one another and with the Father.
Holy Ghost was the common name for the Holy Spirit in English prior to the 20th century. It is the name used in the Book of Common Prayer and the King James Version of the Bible, and is still used by those who prefer more traditional language, or whose religious vocabulary is largely derived from the King James Version. The original meaning of the English word ghost parallelled the words spirit or soul; only later did the former word come to acquire the specific sense of "disembodied spirit of the dead" and the associated pejorative connotations.
In 1901 the American Standard Version of the Bible translated the name as Holy Spirit, as had the English Revised Version of 1881-1885 upon which it was based. Almost all modern English translations have followed suit. Some languages still use a word that overlaps both English words, such as the German Geist.
In the United Kingdom, Religious Education teachers are told to avoid using "Holy Ghost" as it "suggests a trivial and spooky element to the third part in the Trinity"
The Holy Spirit is often depicted as a dove, based on the account of the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus in the form of a dove when He was baptized in the Jordan. In many paintings of the Annunciation, the Holy Spirit is shown in the form of a dove/lily, representing the Angel Gabriel's "whispering" (announcing) of Christ's coming into Mary's ear.
The dove also parallels the one that brought the olive branch to Noah after the deluge (also a symbol of peace), and Rabbinic traditions that doves above the water signify the presence of God.
The book of Acts describes the Holy Spirit descending on the apostles at Pentecost in the form of a wind and tongues of fire resting over the apostles' heads. Based on the imagery in that account, the Holy Spirit is sometimes symbolized by a flame of fire.
The season has its roots in the Old Testament and the Jewish Celebration of Shavuot.
It is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai. The church is uniting the Old Testament promise to God's people of the Nation of Isreal and the New Testament promise to God's people of the Church.
Traditionally dairy foods are used to celebrate the holiday and its abundant harvest. Traditonal holiday foods are cheesecakes and cream cheese filled pastries.
THE SEVEN SPIRITS OF GOD
The "Sevenfold Spirit of God" is wonderful terminology used by the Bible to describe the Holy Spirit, who is Deity, Omnipresent, Omnipotent, and Omniscient. He is full, complete, and lacks nothing. His sevenfold aspects show the fullness of His perfection, character, and might!
The Bible, and especially the Book of Revelation, uses the number seven to refer to perfection and completion. The meaning of the seven in the "seven spirits" is not referring to seven different spirits of God, but rather the perfect and complete Holy Spirit - the seven spirits of God are symbolic of the Holy Spirit.
" To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead."
"Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth."
"Grace and Peace to you from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness..."
In Revelation 4:5 John explains that the Seven Golden Lampstands, are the Seven Spirits are the Seven Eyes of God. This speaks of the Sevenfold manifestation of the Holy Spirit exemplified by the Seven burning flames of the Menorah.
THE OLD TESTAMENT
SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Wisdom is the first and highest gift of the Holy Spirit, because it is the perfection of faith. Through wisdom, we come to value properly those things which we believe through faith. The truths of Christian belief are more important than the things of this world, and wisdom helps us to order our relationship to the created world properly, loving Creation for the sake of God, rather than for its own sake.
Understanding is the second gift of the Holy Spirit, and people sometimes have a hard time understanding (no pun intended) how it differs from wisdom. While wisdom is the desire to contemplate the things of God, understanding allows us grasp, at least in a limited way, the very essence of the truths of the Faith. Through understanding, we gain a certitude about our beliefs that moves beyond faith.
Counsel, the third gift of the Holy Spirit, is the perfection of the virtue of prudence. Prudence can be practiced by anyone, but counsel is supernatural. Through this gift of the Holy Spirit, we are able to judge how best to act almost by intuition. Because of the gift of counsel, Christians need not fear to stand up for the truths of the Faith, because the Holy Spirit will guide us in defending those truth
While counsel is the perfection of a cardinal virtue, fortitude is both a gift of the Holy Spirit and a cardinal virtue. Fortitude is ranked as the fourth gift of the Holy Spirit because it gives us the strength to follow through on the actions suggested by the gift of counsel. While fortitude is sometimes called courage, it goes beyond what we normally think of as courage. Fortitude is the virtue of the martyrs that allows them to suffer death rather than to renounce the Christian Faith.
The fifth gift of the Holy Spirit, knowledge, is often confused with both wisdom and understanding. Like wisdom, knowledge is the perfection of faith, but whereas wisdom gives us the desire to judge all things according to the truths of the Faith, knowledge is the actual ability to do so. Like counsel, it aimed at our actions in this life. In a limited way, knowledge allows us to see the circumstances of our life the way that God seems them. Through this gift of the Holy Spirit, we can determine God's purpose for our lives and live them accordingly.
Piety, the sixth gift of the Holy Spirit, is the perfection of the virtue of religion. While we tend to think of religion today as the external elements of our faith, it really means the willingness to worship and to serve God. Piety takes that willingness beyond a sense of duty, so that we desire to worship God and to serve Him out of love, the way that we desire to honor our parents and do what they wish.
The seventh and final gift of the Holy Spirit is the fear of the Lord, and perhaps no other gift of the Holy Spirit is so misunderstood. We think of fear and hope as opposites, but the fear of the Lord confirms the theological virtue of hope. This gift of the Holy Spirit gives us the desire not to offend God, as well as the certainty that God will supply us the grace that we need in order to keep from offending Him. Our desire not to offend God is more than simply a sense of duty; like piety, the fear of the Lord arises out of love.
The Seven-fold Spirit of God is also represented by Light
God is Light; in Him there is no darkness!
The Spirit of God manifests as the Seven spectral colors and each color is associated with a Divine Characteristic and a 'Gift of the Holy Spirit'.
In Genesis 9:12-15, God revealed the nature of His spirit through the seven hues seen in the prism of a rainbow.
Isaiah 11:1-3 further illuminates the special meaning of the rainbow by enumerating
The order in which the color of the rainbow appear is determined by nature. This order corresponds the each color with a specific attribute of God’s Spirit as listed in order in the inspired word of God.
The Seven Spirits of God listed in order with the colors of the Rainbow are:
Red – Spirit of the Love
Orange – Spirit of Wisdom
Yellow – Spirit of Understanding
Green – Spirit of Counsel
Blue – Spirit of Might
Indigo – Spirit of Knowledge
Violet – Spirit of the Fear of the Lord
Charismatic Gifts of The Holy Spirit
There are different kinds of gifts but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. (1 Cor. 12:4-5)
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. (1 Pet. 4:10)
Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. (Romans 12:4-6a)
Apostle: One sent by God with a holy mission to fulfill; and the strong powers and Spiritual gifts to fulfill the mission -- (known by the fruit of the Spirit overflowing). Apostolic ministry involves laying foundation(s). In the case of Paul and Barnabas, we see this expressed in 'Church planting' by preaching the Gospel in new areas. Apostles in Scripture worked in teams. An apostolic team shared a 'measure of rule' in churches started through their ministry in regions where they are the first to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. (II Corinthians 10.)
Prophet: One who speaks, or communicates a message, authoritatively, as moved by the Holy Spirit Himself -- (known by their good fruit).
Evangelist: Someone who desires that all should come to know the truth that God loves everyone so much that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to live a perfect life, die, and rise again for their redemption, or someone who is gifted to proclaim this message.
Pastor: A word that means 'shepherd.' Pastors are gifted to lead, guide, and set an example for other Christians.
Teacher: Someone able to understand the more difficult things of God and explain them in a way that is easy to understand and live by in daily life.
Service: The God-given ability to do for others whatever needs to be done. Divine ability to carry the burdens or tasks of others without seeking notice or earthly reward.
Exhortation: the ability to motivate Christians to do the works of Christ.
Giving: being blessed by God with resources or time and being able to give them where and when they are needed with a cheerful heart.
Leadership: God-given insight into when something needs to be done, who can do it, how it can be completed, and how to lead those people to get it accomplished.
Mercy: A heart to care for and encourage those who are not able to care for themselves and whom no one else would care for. Knowing who to help and when to help.
Word of wisdom: A message, concept, or bit of wisdom that God reveals supernaturally to the recipient. It may or may not be shared with others.
Word of knowledge: A message, concept, or bit of knowledge that God reveals supernaturally to the recipient. It may or may not be shared with others.
Tongues: A gift from God and the ability to speak another language not known by the believer speaking it. The Spiritual gift to speak another language not known by the believer speaking it; to build up the Body of Christ when the message is interpreted.
Interpretation of tongues: The God-given ability to make tongues a clear message to all who are present to edify, exhort and comfort the Body of Christ.
Prophecy: The God-given ability to receive a message from God to edify, exhort and comfort the Body of Christ or a believer. To speak the Truth as moved by the Holy Spirit. Most prophesying statements do not contain predictions about the future.
Working of miracles: The ability to perform supernatural acts by God the Holy Spirit.
Gifts of healing: The God-given ability to bring or release healing to a person in their body or soul.
Ability to distinguish between spirits: The God-given ability to know what is from God and what is not from Him. The Divine ability to reveal an evil spirit or influence and bring God's power (Jesus' blood) and God's love (Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection) in its place.
Faith: Knowing what you hope for, having a conviction about things you cannot see, trusting God, believing God’s Word, and obeying Him. (Hebrews 11)
Gifts of the Holy Spirit are clearly distinguished from the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Jesus predicted the occurrence of false gifts, particularly in the end time (Matthew 24:24, 7:22,23). Hence while Spiritual gifts are very important for a Christian
The Fruit of the Spirit is a better test of the genuineness of a person.
The Fruit of the Holy Spirit
A biblical term that sums up the nine visible attributes of a true Christian life, according to Paul's Letter to the Galatians chapter 5.
Though there are nine attributes to the Fruit of the Spirit, the original Greek term translated as "Fruit" is singular, signifying that there is one Fruit, with nine parts. Throughout the Bible, righteous men are likened to trees, and Paul in Galatians 5 explains what fruit a righteous tree bears. Accordingly, this fruit is grown by those who have truly repented, or are truly followers of Jesus. It is arguable that if one does not bear this fruit, one is not truly a Christian.
In John's account of the Gospel Jesus said, "These things I command you, that you love one another" referred to as the New Commandment or the second greatest commandment. Paul illustrates with these attributes the kind of love that marks a true Christian life
KINGDOMTIDE OR ORDINARY TIME (green)
The rest of the year following Pentecost is known as Kingdomtide or Ordinary Time. Rather than meaning "common" or "mundane," the term Ordinary comes from the word "ordinal," which simply means counted time (First Sunday after Pentecost, etc.), which is probably a better way to think of this time of the year. Counted time begins with the first Sunday after Pentecost) and ends with Christ the King Sunday which is the last Sunday before the beginning of Advent. The sanctuary color for Ordinary Time is dark green, although other shades of green are commonly used. Green has traditionally been associated with new life and growth. Even in Hebrew in the Old Testament, the same word for the color “green” also means “young.” In Christian tradition, green came to symbolize the life of the new young church following Pentecost, as well as symbolizing the hope of new life in the resurrection.
The term Early Christian Church refers to Christianity of the period after the Death of Jesus in the early 30s and before the First Council of Nicaea in 325. The term is sometimes used in a more narrow sense of just the very first followers (disciples) of Jesus of Nazareth and the faith as preached and practiced by the Twelve Apostles, their contemporaries, and their immediate successors, also called the Apostolic Age. Apostolic Age is, to some church historians, the period in early church history during which some of Jesus' original apostles were still alive and helping to influence church doctrine, polity, and the like. This period ended at about the close of the first century A.D., perhaps with the death of John the Apostle.
Under the Romans, Christianity had been declared illegal, and Christians had to meet in secret places to escape death. A small fish painted outside a house meant that worship was going to be held inside in secret. The reason for the fish to have been chosen as the symbol of Jesus is that the word fish in Greek is IXTHUS, which for the Christians was an acronym for "Jesus (I) Christ (X) of God (TH) the Son (U), the Savior (S)," based on the meaning of those letters in Greek at the time: (Iota: Iesus; Chi: Christ; Theta: Theou ("of God"); Upsilon: Uios (son); Sigma: Soter (savior).
Throughout the Middle Ages and beyond, the Ixthus (fish) was used to represent Christ by compagnons and masters of every trade. Even today for French Christians, the fish remains the symbol of Jesus. During the first and second centuries, another way to claim allegiance to Christianity was to draw fish bones and eventually this symbol became even more common than the fish to represent Jesus. The fish bone can be found on many compagnon tools including the woodcutters' iron wedges and a French carpenters' plane dated 1844.
The Seventy Disciples were early followers of Jesus mentioned in the Gospel of Luke 10:1-24. According to Luke, the only gospel in which they appear, Jesus appointed them and sent them out in pairs to spread his message. In the Western Church it is usual to refer to them as Disciples while the Orthodox Church refers to them as Apostles. Many of the names included among the Seventy are recognizable for their other achievements. The names included in various lists differ slightly. In the lists Luke is also one of these seventy himself. The following list gives a widely accepted canon.
James "the Lord's brother", author of the Epistle of James, and first Bishop of Jerusalem
Mark the Evangelist, author of the Gospel of Mark and Bishop of Alexandria
Luke the Evangelist, author of the Gospel of Luke
Symeon, son of Cleopas, 2nd Bishop of Jerusalem
Barnabas, Bishop of Milan
Justus, Bishop of Eleutheropolis
Thaddeus of Edessa (not the Apostle called Thaddeus or called Addai)
Ananias, Bishop of Damascus
Stephen, of the Seven Deacons, the first martyr
Philip the Evangelist, of the Seven, Bishop of Tralia in Asia Minor
Prochorus, of the Seven, Bishop of Nicomedia in Bithynia
Nicanor the Deacon, of the Seven
Timon, of the Seven
Parmenas the Deacon, of the Seven
Timothy, Bishop of Ephesus
Titus, Bishop of Crete
Philemon, Bishop of Gaza
Onesimus (Not the Onesimus mentioned in the Epistle to Philemon)
Epaphras, Bishop of Andriaca
Silas, Bishop of Corinth
Crispus, Bishop of Chalcedon in Galilee
Epenetus, Bishop of Carthage
Andronicus, Bishop of Pannonia
Stachys, Bishop of Byzantium
Amplias, Bishop of Odissa
Urban, Bishop of Macedonia
Narcissus, Bishop of Athens
Apelles, Bishop of Heraklion
Aristobulus, Bishop of Britain
Herodion, Bishop of Patras
Agabus the Prophet
Rufus, Bishop of Thebes
Asyncritus, Bishop of Hyrcania
Phlegon, Bishop of Marathon
Hermes, Bishop of Philippopolis
Parrobus, Bishop of Pottole
Hermas, Bishop of Dalmatia
Pope Linus, Bishop of Rome
Gaius, Bishop of Ephesus
Philologus, Bishop of Sinope
Lucius of Cyrene, Bishop of Laodicea in Syria
Jason, Bishop of Tarsis
Sosipater, Bishop of Iconium
Tertius, transcriber of the Epistle to the Romans and Bishop of Iconium
Erastus, Bishop of Paneas
Quartus, Bishop of Berytus
Euodias, Bishop of Antioch
Onesiphorus, Bishop of Cyrene
Clement, Bishop of Sardice
Sosthenes, Bishop of Colophon
Apollos, Bishop of Caesarea
Tychicus, Bishop of Colophon
Carpus, Bishop of Berrhoe in Thrace
John Mark (commonly considered identical to Mark the Evangelist), bishop of Byblos
Zenas the Lawyer, Bishop of Giospolis
Aristarchus, Bishop of Apamea in Syria
Mark, Bishop of Apollonia
Artemas, Bishop of Lystra
Women "disciples" of Jesus who also became important members of the early church:
Mary Magdalene is mentioned first in the list of female disciples, therefore is considered to have been the female leader. In each gospel she was the first or among the first to learn of the resurrection or to see Jesus after the resurrection.
Joanna (the wife of Chuza, Herod's servant)According to Luk 24:1-10, she was one of those who announced the resurrection to the 12
Martha of Bethany (the sister of Mary of Bethany and the the sister of Lazarus, possibly the daughter of Simon the leper)
Mary of Bethany (the sister of Martha of Bethany and the the sister of Lazarus, possibly the daughter of Simon the leper)
Mary, the mother of James and John (the sons of Zebedee). According to Mark 15:47; 16:1; Matt 27:61; 28:1, 9, she was at the empty tomb and was among the first to experience the risen Jesus.
Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary appears not to have traveled with Jesus, but she did occasionally visit Jesus. According to Matthew, she was at the cross when Jesus was cruxified.
Mary, the mother of James the Less and Joseph.One of several women who assisted in maintaining Jesus' traveling group of followers. Commentators consistently believe that this was "the other Mary' mentioned in Mat 27:61 and Mat 28:1
Mary, the Sister of Mary (the mother of Jesus), Jesus' aunt. she was at cross with Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the wife of Clopas.
Mary, the wife of Clopas (KJV, Cleophas). One of several women who assisted in maintaining Jesus' traveling group of followers.
Salome - From Galilee. The wife of Zebedee and the mother of James and John. One of several women who assisted in maintaining Jesus' traveling group of followers.
Susanna - One of several women who assisted in maintaining Jesus' traveling group of followers (Luke 8:3).
The other anonymous women (Mark 1:31; 15:41;
Matt 9:20-22; 14:21; 15:22; Luke 8:3; 13:11-13; John 4:7-26)
The First Seven Deacons
The 6th Chapter of Acts tells of the selection of the first seven deacons of the church ...
The Seven Deacons were leaders elected by the Early Christian church to minister to the people of Jerusalem. They are described in the Acts of the Apostles, and are the subject of later traditions as well; for instance they are supposed to have been members of the Seventy Disciples who appear in the Gospel of Luke.
The Seven Deacons were:
KINGDOMTIDE - Reformation Sunday (red)
Reformation Day is a religious holiday celebrated on October 31 in remembrance of the Reformation. Most churches transfer the festival, so that it falls on the Sunday (called Reformation Sunday) on or before October 31st .
The liturgical color of the day is red, which represents the Holy Spirit and the Martyrs of the Christian Church. Martin Luther's hymn, A Mighty Fortress is our God is traditionally sung on this day. The fact that Reformation Day coincides with Halloween may not be mere coincidence. Halloween, being the Eve of All Saints' Day might have been an entirely appropriate day for Luther to post his 95 Theses against indulgences since the castle church would be open on All Saints' Day specifically for people to view a large collection of relics. The viewing of these relics was said to promise a reduction in time in purgatory similar to that of the purchase of an indulgence. Dr. Luther may have been shrewd in his choice of that day to post his theses.
While it had profound and lasting impacts on the political, economic, social, literary, and artistic aspects of modern society, the Reformation was at its heart a religious movement. The Reformation was the great rediscovery of the doctrine of justification, that is, the good news of salvation by grace through faith for Christ's sake.
For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church had been plagued by false doctrines, superstition, ignorance, and corruption. Since most ordinary Christians were illiterate and had little knowledge of the Bible, they relied on their clergy for religious instruction and guidance. Tragically however, monks, priests, bishops, and even the popes in Rome taught unbiblical doctrines like purgatory and salvation through good works. Spiritually earnest people tried to justify themselves by charitable works, pilgrimages, and all kinds of religious performances and devotions, but they were left wondering if they had done enough to appease God's righteous anger and escape His punishment. The truth of the gospel -- the good news that God is loving and merciful, that He offers each and every one of us forgiveness and salvation not because of what we do, but because of what Christ has already done for us -- was largely forgotten by both clergy and laity. The Holy Spirit used an Augustinian friar and university professor named Martin Luther to restore the gospel to its rightful place as the cornerstone doctrine of Christianity.
Martin Luther (pictured above) was born in 1483 in the town of Eisleben in the area of Germany called Thuringia. His parents brought him up in the strict religious environment of the Roman Catholic Church. They provided for his education by enrolling him in the Latin schools of Thuringia. The young Luther was a promising student, so his father sent him to the University of Erfurt in 1501 to study law. He did very well at his studies and graduated with a Master of Arts degree in 1505. But Luther was a troubled and morbidly unhappy man. Like many others of his time, Luther was distressed by his sins and lived in terrible and constant fear of God's angry judgment. After being caught in a ferocious thunderstorm that seemed to threaten his very life, Luther abandoned his plans to practice law and entered an Augustinian monastery in Erfurt in 1505. He hoped that this serious religious vocation would allow him opportunities to do enough good works to please God and escape eternal punishment. Luther threw himself into monastic life and was ordained in 1507. He meticulously followed all the strict rules of his order, impressing his fellow friars with his seriousness and outward piety. Dr. Johann von Staupitz, the vicar-general of the Augustinian order, took notice of Luther's potential for leadership and assigned him important administrative duties, including a mission to Rome. But although Luther did everything a devout and conscientious friar should do, he did not find the peace of mind he was seeking.
In 1508, Father Staupitz sent Luther to Wittenberg, a town in the part of Germany called Saxony, to pursue a doctoral degree and to teach at the newly established university there. Luther also became assistant pastor at the Castle Church, a post he held for the rest of his life. In the course of his preaching and studying (especially his careful reading of Saint Paul's Epistle to the Romans), the Holy Spirit revealed to Luther the love of God in Jesus Christ. In what is often called his "Tower Experience," Luther came to understand the true nature of the gospel, namely that God has already accomplished our salvation by the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, and that this salvation is ours through faith alone, not on account of our good works. Luther was astounded by this doctrine and found tremendous comfort in it. He began to lecture about it in his classes and preach about it in his parish.
In 1517, Luther (now a Doctor of Theology and a respected professor) was drawn into a controversy over the sale of indulgences. Indulgences were certificates sold by the Roman Catholic Church that promised people release from works of penance for absolved sins, both in life and in purgatory. Although Luther would in a few years repudiate the entire Roman Catholic system of works righteousness, he was not ready at this early stage in his ministry to completely reject the prevailing teachings on purgatory and indulgences. But even prior to 1517 he realized that corrupt practices connected to the sale of indulgences were a blasphemy against Christ and a cruel deception on penitent Christians seeking God's grace and forgiveness.
It was the sale of a particular indulgence that spurred Luther to action. Pope Leo X had authorized the sale of special jubilee indulgences in the cities and principalities of Germany. Half of the money raised was to help finance the building of Saint Peter's Cathedral in Rome; the other half was to go to Albrecht, the new archbishop of Mainz (who needed the cash to pay off a loan he had taken to buy his archbishopric). These indulgences were plenary, meaning that all sin and eternal and temporal punishment would be forgiven to those who purchased them. Elector Frederick the Wise, prince of Saxony and patron of the University of Wittenberg, had prohibited the traffic of these indulgences in his territory, but they were sold in towns and villages just across the Saxon border. When some members of his parish purchased indulgences and brought them to Luther for his assessment of their validity, he felt compelled act.
Luther drafted a series of ninety-five statements in Latin discussing indulgences, good works, repentance, and other topics, and invited interested scholars to debate with him. According to Dr. Philip Melanchthon, Luther's university colleague and author of the Augsburg Confession, Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Castle Church on October 31, 1517. This was not an act of defiance or provocation as is sometimes thought. Since the Castle Church faced Wittenberg's main thoroughfare, the church door functioned as a public bulletin board and was therefore the logical place for posting important notices. Today, a professor might publish an article in a journal or post it on a blog or web site. By posting his document on October 31, the eve of the All Saints' Day mass, Luther ensured that his Theses would come to the attention of the throngs of literate Wittenberg residents and educated visitors who filed into the Castle Church for worship the next day.
Luther intended the Ninety-five Theses to initiate an academic discussion, not serve as the agenda for a major reform of the Catholic Church. However, events soon overtook him. Within weeks, the Theses were translated into German, reproduced using the new moveable-type printing press, and circulated throughout Germany. It wasn't long before they were the talk of Europe. The publication of the Ninety-five Theses brought Luther to international attention and into direct conflict with the Roman Catholic hierarchy and the Holy Roman Emperor. A little over three years later, he was excommunicated by the pope and declared a heretic and outlaw. This was the beginning of the Reformation, the culmination of which was the writing of the Augsburg Confession of 1530, the first official Lutheran statement of faith.
Martin Luther and his colleagues came to understand that if we sinners had to earn salvation by our own merits and good works, we would be lost and completely without hope. But through the working of the Holy Spirit, the reformers rediscovered the gospel -- the wonderful news that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again to redeem and justify us. As Luther wrote in his explanation of the Second Article of the Apostles' Creed: I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.
On Reformation Day, we glorify God for what he accomplished in 16th century Germany through His servant, Dr. Martin Luther -- the recovery of the gospel of salvation by grace through faith for Christ's sake. We also earnestly pray that God would keep all of us faithful to the true gospel and help us to joyfully declare it to the world.
KINGDOMTIDE - All Saints Day (green)
All Saints' Day is a Christian holy day observed by many Western churches on November 1st and by Eastern churches on the first Sunday after Pentecost. The day now honors all saints of the church, even those not known by name.
The Feast of All Saints Day on November 1st reminds us of our relationship to those in the other states of being. These are days of remembrance, celebration and prayer. Early Christian martyrs:
Saint Stephen was stoned and some 2,000 other Christians suffered at the time of Stephen's persecution. James the Great (Son of Zebedee) was beheaded in 44 A.D. Philip was crucified in 54 A.D. Matthew killed by a halberd in 60 A.D. James the Just, beaten to death by a club after being crucified and stoned. Matthias was stoned and beheaded.
Saint Andrew, St. Peter's brother, was crucified. Mark was beaten to death. Saint Peter, crucified upside-down. Apostle Paul, beheaded in Rome. Jude was crucified. Bartholomew was crucified. Thomas, was killed by a spear. Luke was hanged. Simon was crucified in 74 A.D. John the Evangelist was cooked in boiling hot oil but survived and died of old age circa 110 A.D.
There were known to be 10 waves of persecutions under the Roman emperors. Christians were tortured, even woman and children the young and old- whole families died for their faith in horrible ways. Drowning, burning parts of the body, being torn in pieces, burnings at the stake and being beheaded were commonplace. It is said for several weeks the countryside was lit up by Christians that were torched. But with all this being done the Church increased. No one could say anything against the brave faith illustrated by these martyrs facing death, God’s grace was upon them, even more so in their death.
Some of the most vicious persecutions were under the watch of Emperor Trajan. Ignatius wrote before his exit “Now I begin to be a disciple. I care for nothing, of visible or invisible things, so that I may but win Christ. Let fire and the cross, let the companies of wild beasts, let breaking of bones and tearing of limbs, let the grinding of the whole body, and all the malice of the devil, come upon me; be it so, only may I win Christ Jesus!” As he heard the lions roaring, he said. “I am the wheat of Christ: I am going to be ground with the teeth of wild beasts, that I may be found pure bread.”
The African Story: Amazing Growth, Unthinkable Persecution
In the twentieth century, the Christian population in Africa exploded from an estimated eight or nine million in 1900 (8 to 9%) to some 335 million in 2000 (45%), marking a shift in the “center of gravity of Christianity” from the West to Latin America, parts of Asia and Africa.
In the 20th century alone, there have been some 1.8 million Christian martyrs in Africa. This figure does not take into account the estimated 600,000 Christians who have died in the genocidal conflicts in Rwanda and Burundi, nor does it fully account for the more than two million deaths in the 17 years of Sudanese civil war waged by the militant Islamist government on the predominantly Christian population of the south.
AFRICAN SAINTS OF THE CHURCH
Saint Anthony the Great of Thebes
St. Anthony is called the Patriarch of Monks. He was born at Aama, village south of Memphis, near Thebes. His parents were rich Christians. Shortly after inheriting his parents' fortune, he sold all his vast fortune and gave the proceeds to the poor, sent his sister to a nunnery and retired to an old ruin of a tomb. He ate only every three or four days and spent his time at manual labor and prayer.
Saint Antonio Vieira
Antonio Vieria was an African born in Portugal. When he was fifteen years old, he became a Jesuit novice and later a professor of rhetoric and dogmatic theology. He went to Brazil where he worked to abolish discrimination against Jewish merchants, to abolish slavery, and to alleviate conditions among the poor. On the 200th anniversary of his death in 1897, he was canonized.
Historians tell us that there is more intimate knowledge available about St. Augustine than of any other individual in the whole world of antiquity. Augustine the sinner is all too well known. There is knowledge of him as a convert and author of Confessions, but little is known of his as Father of the Church and as a saint.
Augustine was born in the little town of Tegaste, Africa, on November 13, 354. He claimed that he learned the love of God from his mother Monica's breast, and that her early Christian training influenced his entire life. He was highly educated, having studied at Madura, Africa, the University of Carthage, and Rome. He was brilliant - actually a genius, and he used his great abilities to lead men to love God.
His thousands of letters, sermons and tracts, combined with 232 books, instructed the Early Church and have relevance for the Church today. It is said that Christian scholars through the ages owe much to St. Augustine and that the full impact of his psychology and his embryonic theology will be felt in years to come. Augustine was truly a saint. He live an austere life, performing great acts of mortification and penance. He wrote, "I pray to God, weeping almost daily." Two of his most famous books are "Confessions" which is an autobiography and "City of God".
St. Bessarian was born in Egypt. He went to the desert to become a hermit. He is credited for many miracles. Once he made salt water fresh. He brought rain during a drought and once walked on the Nile.
Saint Benedict the Moor
St. Benedict the Moor, a lay brother, was born in Sicily in 1526. He was the son of African slave parents, but he was freed at an early age. When about twenty -one he was insulted because of his color, but his patient and dignified bearing caused a group of Franciscan hermits who witnessed the incident to invite him to join their group. He became their leader. In 1564 he joined the Franciscan friary in Palermo and worked in the kitchen until 1578, when he was chosen superior of the group. He carried through the adoption of stricter interpretation of the Franciscan rule. He was known for his power to read people's minds and held the nickname of the "Holy Moor". His life is austerity resembled that of St. Francis of Assisi.
Saints Felicitas and Perpetua
Women persecuted for Christianity at Carthage. Perpetua is recorded for having several visions that depicted her death. At death, she called out to the crowds: "Stand fast in the Faith and love one another. Do not let out suffering be a stumbling block to you…" Felicitas was Perpetua's slave. They died together.
St. Monica, an African laywoman is a saint with whom most black women can readily and easily identify, because Monica epitomized the present-day black women. St. Monica was born in Tegaste in northern Africa in about 331. She was a devout Christian and an obedient disciple of St. Ambrose. Through her patience, gentleness and prayers, she converted her pagan husband. To her son, St. Augustine of Hippo, whom she loved dearly, she gave thorough religious training during his boyhood, only to know the disappointment of seeing him later scorn all religion and live a life of disrepute. Before her death, Monica had the great joy of knowing that Augustine had returned to God and was using all his energies to build Christ's Church, and that her youngest daughter had become a nun.
Saint Moses, The Black
Saint Moses, the Black, was a desert monk, born around 330. He was an Ethiopian of great physical strength and unruly character. Moses was a big man and his enormous strength was well known. He belonged to a band of professional thieves and robbers in Egypt. Yet he was a slave Moses always in trouble with the law and his master. Fearing eventual death from his Ethiopian master, or other criminals Moses ran away into the Scete Desert. No regular people were there, only poor hermits with nothing worth stealing. The hermits converted Black Moses to Jesus; yet his former bad ways held on to him. In order to fight harder for Jesus, Moses moved further into the desert. Soon his conversion to Jesus became widely known. The report reached his former band of robbers. Some of them came and tried to turn him back to crime. He converted them.
He was chosen for priesthood, and at his ordination the bishop remarked to him, "Now the black man is made white". Moses replied, "Only outside, for God knows I am all black within." At age 75, was killed during a raid by Mazics on the monastery, which he refused to defend. He left seventy disciples to mourn him. St. Moses, The Black feast day is August 28th.
Saints Valentine and Dubatatius
Were executed for their faith at Carthage.
Died for her faith at Abitene in Proconsular, Africa. Having been arrested for assisting at Mass, she confessed her faith before a judge in 304. She was stretched on the rack and later died in prison.
KINGDOMTIDE - All Souls Day (green)
All Soul's Day (sometimes called the "Day of the Dead" in Hispanic
Culture) is always November 2nd (November 3rd if the 2nd falls on a Sunday). All Soul's Day is a day of remembrance for friends and loved ones who have passed away.
It is celebrated with masses and festivities in honor of the dead. While the Feast of All Saints is a day to remember the glories of Heaven and those there, the Feast of All Souls reminds us of our obligations to live holy lives and pays respect and remember the souls of all friends, family and other loved ones who have died and gone to heaven. All Soul's Day lives on today, particularly in Mexico, where All Hallows' Eve, All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day are collectively observed as "Los Dias de los Muertos" (The Days of the Dead). First and foremost, the Days of the Dead is a time when families fondly remember the deceased. This is a day to place flowers and/or wreathes on the grave of dearly missed family or church members. Then, come back home and feast on some of their favorite foods reminising on happy times with the dearly departed in days gone by.
Traditional foods include "Soul Food" --- food made of lentils or peas.
Basic Split Pea Soup (serves 4)
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic (optional)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil or bacon grease
1 pound dried split peas
1 pound ham bone
1 c. chopped ham
1 c. chopped carrots (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
In a medium pot, sauté onions in oil or bacon grease. (Optional: add garlic and sauté until just golden, then remove). Remove from heat and add split peas, ham bone and ham. Add enough water to cover ingredients, and season with salt and pepper.
Cover, and cook until there are no peas left, just a green liquid, 2 hours. (Optional: add carrots halfway through) While it is cooking, check to see if water has evaporated. You may need to add more water as the soup continues to cook.
Once the soup is a green liquid remove from heat, and let stand so it will thicken. Once thickened you may need to heat through to serve. Serve with sour cream on top, and with a crusty bread.
Sharon Baptist Church members that we remember this year:
Ronald Alphonso Shelton
All Saints Sunday is celebrated the first Sunday in November.
All Saints' Day is the day Christians give thanks for all the good people God has placed in their lives, especially those who are already with God in heaven.
It is also a day when Christians give thanks for the presence of theHoly Spirit in their lives and in the lives of all people.
It is not because people are special in and of themselves that we call them saints, but it is because they are ordinary, everyday people who allow the Holy Spirit to work through them, doing the mighty deeds of the Lord.
Martin Luther writes, "The Holy Scriptures call Christians saints and the people of God. To forget that we are saints is to forget Christ and to forget our baptism."
All Saints is a day for remembering and giving thanks, as Christians remember the good people they have known and give thanks for the unending goodness of God.
KINGDOMTIDE - Christ The King Sunday (green)
It is always the last Sunday before Advent. The Feast of Christ the King was created in 1925. It was created to fix the way people were living like Jesus Christ didn't exist. The feast proclaims how Jesus Christ is royalty above people, communties, nations, and governments. The feast establishes the titles for Christ's royalty over men: 1) Christ is God and holds high power over everything; 2) Christ is our Redeemer, He made us His by His blood and now we belong to Him; 3) Christ is Head of the Church, 4) God bestowed upon Christ the nations of the world as his special possession and dominion.
We also learn that Christ's kingdom is for everybody who wants to be with Him, and it's endless. Most importantly, Christ's kingdom is not this world.
Jesus’ comes to us not as a great conquering military leader who oppresses and abuses the conquered. Rather, he comes as the Prince of Peace, the One whose reign proclaims peace, justice, liberation, and above all, service. Jesus turned the whole concept of lordship and kingship on its head
You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to become great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:42-45, NAB,).
Images of God, as Lord and King seem foreign in a democratic, individualistic society. But our all-powerful God, is also all-loving, and all-merciful. God’s heart aches to once more be in a loving relationship with his creatures. This is what Christ’s kingship is all about. We must submit to Jesus as our Lord and King, but it is a submission that paradoxically brings with it liberation, freedom from sin.
Scribes in this time period were accustomed to indicating an abbreviation or a contraction by a tittle. Although there were various ways of indicating the omission of some letters, the most common way was by means of a bar over the resulting abbreviation. Therefore, abbreviations of the name of Jesus IH for Ihsous or "I H S" for IHsouS , or even IC for IhouC all would be written with a line or bar over the letters.
The abbreviations for the name of Jesus, I H S and I H C and others appear side by side for several centuries until a letter was written by Amalarius (A.D. 827) to Archbishop Jonas asking whether the Name of Jesus should be written I H C or I H S. The Archbishop answered that it should be written with the Latin form of "S", thus "I H S " was to be used.
In the parts of Europe where the influence of the Greeks was no felt, the Carolingian script went over into the Gothic and the monogram of Jesus was written
This form was generally used during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Also in this time period, it became customary to substitute the letters "y" or "j" for the letter i. It became quite common for the Italians to use the letter "y" to write: ymago, ydolatria, ytalia, ysrahel, yronia, ypocrises, and son on. For this reason you will sometimes see the monomgram written as "J H S" or "y h s" on some pictures or statues from this period of history.
The monogram IC XC is more common among Eastern Christians. It is composed of the first and last letters of Jesus' Name in Greek (iota and sigma) with the first and last letters of Christos, the Greek word for Christ (chi and sigma, respectively). The sigmas are both rendered in "C" form, resulting in "IC XC". A Byzantine mosaic dated about the end of the thirteenth century bears the contraction IC XC. This monogram is commonly written on ikons of Christ near His halo to identify Him, and in the phrase "IC XC NIKA", meaning "Jesus Christ Conquers".
St. Bernardine of Siena and the Monogram of the Holy Name of Jesus
During his travels on foot through the various provinces of Italy, St. Bernardine persuaded the residents of the city states to take down the arms of their warring factions from the church and palace walls and to inscribe there, instead, the monogram of the most Holy Name of Jesus " I H S" He thus gave a new impulse and a tangible form to the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus.
St. Bernadine frequently held a wooden board in front of him while preaching, with the sacred monogram "I H S" surrounded by rays of light painted on it. After these sermons he would expose the sacred name of Jesus for veneration and plead with the people to embrace as their way of life this heavenly name and all it signified. He appears to have introduced this custom at Volterra in 1424. The tablet used by St. Bernardine is still venerated today at the basilica of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli at Rome.
In the time of the very early Church (to 690 AD), if anyone wished to write out the name of Jesus Christ, it would have looked like the spelling below (written in Greek Letters). The Greek letters for Jesus are iota-eta-sigma-omnicron-upsilon-sigma. These Greek letters translate into the English letters as iota ("I") eta ("H") sigma ("S") omnicron ("O") upsilon ("U") and sigma ("S"), IHSOUS. Here sigma is rendered with it's Latin form "S". The Greek letter sigma can also be rendered with the letter ("C"), giving the translation as IHCOUC.
The emblem or monogram representing the Holy Name of Jesus consists of the three letters