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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Week’

“Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.”

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.

 

“Speaking the wonderful works of God”

 

God has spoken to Man throughout the ages.  God communed with Adam in the cool of the morning.  God accepted Abel’s sacrifice but not Cain’s.  God commanded Noah to build the Ark.  God chose Abraham and sent him on his journey, communicating to his through angels.  God spoke to Moses from the burning bush to lead the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt and gave him his sacred Law.  The tabernacle of the Ark of the Covenant signified the presence of God to the priests and people of Israel.

Yet even when the Ark was lost, God still spoke through the prophets of Israel, correcting and admonishing the priests, kings, and people when they grew lax with God’s Law and sought to worship themselves instead of God.  These prophets and the calamities visited upon the Israelites scattered many of them but sharpened and honed others.

Out of these others came Ss. Mary and Joseph, Ss. Elizabeth and Zacharias, and those who waited for the consolation of Israel.  The Son of God the Father became Man in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Holy Ghost came upon her and the power of the Most High overshadowed her.  God raised a great prophet in the elderly womb of St. Elizabeth.  As her son, St. John the Baptist, preached and prepared those hoping for the restoration of Zion to receive their king, Jesus grew in stature and wisdom until his Baptism by St. John and his ministry amongst the Jews.

Thus we understand the first two verses of Hebrews:  “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;”

As we have worshipped in the cycle of Holy Church through the preparation for Easter, Pre-Lent and Lent, and thence through Passion Week and Holy Week, worshipping through the Passion, death, Resurrection, and then Ascension of our Lord Christ, so we come to the time Christ promised us:  Pentecost.

WHEN the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Christ gave the Holy Ghost to the Church to hold her accountable to what He taught her.  We are given the Holy Ghost in the Sacraments to bring God’s presence into our lives and accomplish all things necessary for holiness.  The Third Person of the Holy Trinity, God the Holy Ghost, instructs us, seals us in the knowledge of God, and preserves the teachings of Jesus Christ.

 

From the Confirmation rite found in the Book of Common Prayer:  “Strengthen them, we beseech thee, O Lord, with the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, and daily increase in them thy manifold gifts of grace: the spirit of wisdom and under-standing, the spirit of counsel and ghostly strength, the spirit of knowledge and true godliness; and fill them, O Lord, with the spirit of thy holy fear,”

Zechariah vii.11-12:  “But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.  Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.”

St. John iv.22b-24 “…Salvation is of the Jews.  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

Romans viii.9-11:  “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

I Corinthians ii.9-10, 12:  “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God…. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”

 

We are comforted – strengthened – by the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit also leads us into all truth.  The two come together in that teaching of Christ, that the Holy Ghost will preserve and keep us in the word of God from Christ.  He “brings all things to remembrance”.

In the Collect, God “didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people, by sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit” and we beseech God to “Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things”.

Teaching the hearts of the faithful and granting us right judgement are both brought about by the first thing St. Peter does after receiving the Holy Ghost at Pentecost.  He preaches.

He preaches that those who have not heard may hear.  He preaches that those who do not understand may understand.  He preaches that those who fail may be strengthened to succeed.  He preaches that the faithless may find faith.  He preaches that the stout-hearted give glory to God and lead others to glorify God as well.  He preaches by telling the truth that the authorities do not want to be told.  He preaches by speaking the wonderful works of God.

Will you stand up alongside the great apostle and speak the wonderful works of God?

 

“Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.”

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.

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“Truly this was the Son of God.”

+  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.

 

The Prologue to St. John’s Gospel reads:  “In the beginning was the Word” and then “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”

St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians reads:  “Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:” and continues later “took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

The Nicene Creed reads:  “Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of his Father before all worlds” and “Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made man: And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried:”

We think of a God who sits on high and looks down low.  We think of a God as pure Spirit who cannot really know what it feels like for us to live our limited bodily existence.  We think of a God who is too great to be concerned with our affairs.  Alternately, we think of a God who is purely a projection of our own needs, desires, and imagination and who serves as a defense against a cruel and wanton world.  But God is none of these things.

Before we were, God was.  As Christ said in last week’s Gospel, “Before Abraham was, I am.”  Before the Jews were called out of Egypt, He Whom we know as Christ dwelt with the Father and the Holy Ghost up in Heaven.  Before the world was created from nothingness, before space and time existed, He Whom we know as Christ was still the eternal Word, the eternal Son of the Father.  He was begotten of his Father before all worlds, for in the beginning was the Word.

God the Father sent the pre-existent Word of God out of Heaven to become one of God’s frail creatures.  Our minds, our hearts cannot conceive of such profound humility.  “How the mighty have fallen,” we cry when someone experiences a negative reversal of fortune.  We shall never in our whole lives suffer the humiliation Christ suffered in becoming man.  We may walk the Way of Sorrows with Christ, but we shall never suffer the humiliations Christ, our God and our King, suffered at our hands.  Only in our own death in Holy Baptism do we truly join to Christ, for He preceded us all in death.  And for those of us who die to the world in Christ Jesus, we too shall rise on that day of Resurrection like Christ rose from His empty tomb to ascend to the right hand of God the Father Almighty!

Christ bore the weight of the sins of the whole world upon His holy body as He hung on the Cross.  This made for deeper anguish than mere physical pain could cause, for Christ felt His beloved creatures’ wantonness, brokenness, and spiritual isolation more than we ourselves could feel it.

In the moment of complete defeat came the onset of everlasting and absolute victory.  The worst that man could do was not enough to keep the Son of God down.  The instrument of shame and torture became the sign of redeeming love.

As for us, when we consider the immensity of God and the great goodness of God the Father sending God the Son to become one of us, to suffer with us, and to die for us, we must shut our mouths and contemplate with awe the mysterious wonders of this week.

This is Holy Week.  We should attend diligently and meekly to the things of God.  I know that we all have our other duties:  family, household matters, work.  But this week is a week like none other in our faith, for this is Holy Week.  We acclaim Christ.  We witness His Passion.  We mourn His death.  And then we rejoice in His Resurrection!

“So God loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  This Holy Week is not about depression and sadness and death.  This week is about the hard humiliating work God the Son took up for us so that we might live forever with Him.  We owe God for our creation, for our redemption, and for life everlasting.

Let us put off worldly things this week and look to our Saviour.  Let us lift our thoughts out of the gutter and set them on the things of Heaven.  Let us quiet our minds and contemplate the things of God.  Let us worship our Lord faithfully this week of His blessed Passion and precious Death so that we may rise with Him on that great day of Resurrection.  Let us come before the throne of grace and bestow the gifts of our hearts to the King of the Jews!

 

“Truly this was the Son of God.”

+  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.

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