Monday, September 20, 2010

Are You Frightened of Holy Communion, even a little bit?

¶ When the Minister giveth warning for the Celebration of the Holy Communion (which he shall always do upon the Sunday, or some Holy Day, immediately preceding), he shall read this Exhortation following, or so much thereof as, in his discretion, he may think convenient.

DEARLY beloved. on Sunday next I purpose through God’s assistance, to administer to all such as shall be religiously and devoutly disposed the most comfortable Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; to be by them received in remembrance of his meritorious Cross and Passion; whereby alone we obtain remission of our sins, and are made partakers of the kingdom of heaven. Wherefore it is our duty to render most humble and hearty thanks to Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that he hath given his Son our Saviour Jesus Christ ,not only to die for us, but also to be our spiritual food and sustenance in that holy Sacrament. Which being so divine and comfortable a thing to them who receive it worthily, and so dangerous to those who will presume to receive it unworthily, my duty is to exhort you, in the mean season to consider the dignity of that holy mystery, and the great peril of the unworthy receiving thereof; and so to search and examine your own consciences (and that not lightly and after the manner of dissemblers with God; but so) that ye may come holy and clean to such a heavenly Feast in the marriage-garment required by God in holy Scripture, and be received as worthy partakers of that holy Table. 
   The way and means thereto is; First, to examine your lives and conversations by the rule of God’s commandments and whereinsoever ye shall perceive yourselves to have offended either by will, word, or deed, there to bewail your own sinfulness, and to confess yourselves to Almighty God, with full purpose of amendment of life. And if ye shall perceive your offences to be such as are not only against God, but also against your neighbours; then ye shall reconcile yourselves unto them; being ready to make restitution and satisfaction, according to the uttermost of your powers, for all injuries and wrongs done by you to any other; and being likewise ready to forgive others who have offended you, as ye would have forgiveness of your offences at God’s hand: for otherwise the receiving of the holy Communion doth nothing else but increase your condemnation. Therefore, if any of you be a blasphemer of God, an hinderer or slanderer of his Word, an adulterer, or be in malice, or envy, or ill any other grievous crime; repent ye of your sins, or else come not to that holy Table. 
   And because it is requisite that no man should come to the holy Communion, but with a full trust in God’s mercy, and with a quiet conscience; therefore, if there be any of you, who by this means cannot quiet his own conscience herein, but requireth further comfort or counsel, let him come to me, or to some other Minister of God’s Word, and open his grief; that he may receive such godly counsel and advice, as may tend to the quieting of his conscience, and the removing of all scruple and doubtfulness.

Christmas Eve 1838 Fr. Caleb Ives Exhorted his Republic of Texas mission flock in theses words. 

Last Sunday we did the same. In honor of a meeting of the Texas Navy and the Sons of the Republic of Texas who gathered in Matagorda to honor the memory of Samuel Rhodes Fisher, Secretary of the Texas Navy and, after being killed in a duel - true story - the first person buried from the newly established mission of Christ Church.

In viewing the Holy Eucharist through a slightly different lens, the 1789 Liturgy, I was struck by the different points of view occupied by the worshiper, as embodied in the language, then and now.

Today we approach the Altar as beloved children. Often disappointing Our Father, but always confident we will be welcomed.

Our forbearers were enjoined not to take too much for granted, not to presume upon a grace that is a gift to be given, not a right to be claimed.

"What we obtain too cheaply, we value too lightly."

If the law of prayer is the law of belief, are we doing our children and disciples a disservice to present the Lord of Hosts as the eternal suitor, continually seeking to embrace us despite our distain and disobedience; rather than as the eternal example which we must strive our best to emulate, counting on mercy when we inevitably fall short?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Who owns you?

Luke 15:1-10

All the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them."
So he told them this parable: "Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
"Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, `Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.' Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

I can own a sheep. I can own a coin. But there is a disconnect between me and Jesus 1st listeners, they could and did own people.

Slavery was not a peculiar institution in the 1st century, it was as much a part of the world as money or animal husbandry. Jesus knew that, his hearers knew that. We no longer know that.

Lets make no mistake. These parables are about property. The sheep, the coin and the sinner are all the property of the one who looks for them. We are not accustomed to think of ourselves as being owned by God.

God however clearly sees it differently.

In Baptism, we say "you are marked as Christ's own forever." Are you?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hate is the only beginning of True Love.

This is a tough text and a tough sermon, but I ask you to dig in and wrestle with it.

Did Jesus really say that?
Luke 14:25-33
Now large crowds were traveling with Jesus; and he turned and said to them, "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, `This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions."

Maybe it means something easier in Greek?

Strong's Number G3404 matches the Greek μισέω (miseō), 1) to hate, pursue with hatred, detest 2) to be hated, detested; which occurs 42 times in 38 verses in the Greek concordance of the KJV.

Luke uses it like this:
Luk 1:71                That we should be saved4991 from1537 our2257 enemies2190, and2532 from1537 the hand5495 of all3956 that hate3404 us2248;

Luk 6:22                Blessed3107 are ye2075 , when3752 men444 shall hate3404 you5209, and2532 when3752 they shall separate873 you5209 [from their company], and2532 shall reproach3679 [you], and2532 cast out1544 your5216 name3686 as5613 evil4190, for the Son5207 of man's444 sake1752.

Luk 6:27                But235 I say3004 unto you5213 which3588 hear191 , Love25 your5216 enemies2190, do4160 good2573 to them which3588 hate3404 you5209,

Luk 14:26             If any1536 [man] come2064 to4314 me3165, and2532 hate3404 not3756 his1438 father3962, and2532 mother3384, and2532 wife1135, and2532 children5043, and2532 brethren80, and2532 sisters79, yea2089, and1161 his own1438 life5590 also2532, he cannot37561410 be1511 my3450 disciple3101.

Luk 16:13             No3762 servant3610 can1410 serve1398 two1417 masters2962: for1063 either2228 he will hate3404 the one1520, and2532 love25 the other2087; or else2228 he will hold472 to the one1520, and2532 despise2706 the other2087. Ye cannot37561410 serve1398 God2316 and2532 mammon3126.

Luk 19:14             But1161 his846 citizens4177 hated3404 him846, and2532 sent649 a message4242 after3694 him846, saying3004 , We will23090 not3756 have2309 this5126 [man] to reign936 over1909 us2248.

Luk 21:17             And2532 ye shall be2071 hated3404 of5259 all3956 [men] for1223 my3450 name's sake3686.

The study on our Children’s faith is outlined here: