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2021/01/22

Third Sunday after Epiphany and Conversion of St. Paul (25 January) - 2021

 

The Third Sunday after the Epiphany.

Psalm 72. Deus, judicium.

GIVE the King thy judgments, O God, * and thy righteousness unto the King’s son.

2 Then shall he judge thy people according unto right, * and defend the poor.

3 The mountains also shall bring peace, * and the little hills righteousness unto the people.

4 He shall keep the simple folk by their right, * defend the children of the poor, and punish the wrong doer.

5 They shall fear thee, as long as the sun and moon endureth, * from one generation to another.

6 He shall come down like the rain upon the mown grass, * even as the drops that water the earth.

7 In his time shall the righteous flourish; * yea, and abundance of peace, so long as the moon endureth.

8 His dominion shall be also from the one sea to the other, * and from the River unto the world’s end.

9 They that dwell in the wilderness shall kneel before him; * his enemies shall lick the dust.

10 The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall give presents; * the kings of Arabia and Saba shall bring gifts.

11 All kings shall fall down before him; * all nations shall do him service.

12 For he shall deliver the poor when he crieth; * the needy also, and him that hath no helper.

13 He shall be favourable to the simple and needy, * and shall preserve the souls of the poor.

14 He shall deliver their souls from falsehood and wrong; * and dear shall their blood be in his sight.

15 He shall live, and unto him shall be given of the gold of Arabia; * prayer shall be made ever unto him, and daily shall he be praised.

16 There shall be an heap of corn in the earth, high upon the hills; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: * and they of the city shall flourish like grass upon the earth.

17 His Name shall endure for ever; his Name shall re- main under the sun among the posterities, which shall be blessed in him; * and all the nations shall praise him.

18 Blessed be the Lord God, even the God of Israel, * which only doeth wondrous things;

19 And blessed be the Name of his majesty for ever: *  and all the earth shall be filled with his majesty. Amen,  Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son * and to the Holy Ghost;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be * world without end. Amen. 

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth thy right hand to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 41.8-10, 17-20

Psalter: Psalm 20, 21 | 27, 29

Epistle Reading: Romans 12.16-21

Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 8.1-13 

Homily


The Conversion of Saint Paul (25 January) 

The Collect

O God, who, through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Saint Paul, hast caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world: Grant, we beseech thee, that we, having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may shew forth our thankfulness unto thee for the same, by following the holy doctrine which he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Old Testament Reading: Jeremiah 1.4-10

Psalter: Psalm 67

Epistle Reading: Acts 9.1-22

Gospel Reading: *St. Matthew 19.27-30 

Homily


2021/01/15

Second Sunday after Epiphany - 2021

 

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany.

Psalm 48. Magnus Dominus.

GREAT is the Lord, and highly to be praised * in the city of our God, even upon his holy hill.

2 The hill of Sion is a fair place, and the joy of the whole earth; * upon the north side lieth the city of the great King: God is well known in her palaces as a sure refuge.

3 For lo, the kings of the earth * were gathered, and gone by together.

4 They marvelled to see such things; * they were astonished, and suddenly cast down.

5 Fear came there upon them; and sorrow, * as upon a woman in her travail.

6 Thou dost break the ships of the sea * through the east-wind.

7 Like as we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God; * God upholdeth the same for ever.

8 We wait for thy loving-kindness, O God, * in the midst of thy temple.

9 O God, according to thy Name, so is thy praise unto the world’s end; * thy right hand is full of righteousness.

10 Let the mount Sion rejoice, and the daughters of Judah be glad, * because of thy judgments.

11 Walk about Sion, and go round about her; * and tell the towers thereof.

12 Mark well her bulwarks, consider her palaces, * that ye may tell them that come after.

13 For this God is our God for ever and ever: * he shall be our guide unto death.  

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son * and to the Holy Ghost;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be * world without end. Amen.

 

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth; Mercifully hear the supplications of thy people, and grant us thy peace all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 45.1-15

Psalter: Psalm 96, 97 | 45, 46

Epistle Reading: Romans 12.6-16

Gospel Reading: St. Mark 1.1-11

 

Homily


2021/01/08

First Sunday after Epiphany - 2021 (with an extra prayer, and pastoral letter)

 

The First Sunday after the Epiphany.

Psalm 47. Omnes gentes, plaudite.

O CLAP your hands together, all ye peoples: * O sing unto God with the voice of melody.

2 For the Lord is high, and to be feared; * he is the great King upon all the earth.

3 He shall subdue the peoples under us, * and the nations under our feet.

4 He shall choose out an heritage for us, * even the excellency of Jacob, whom he loved.

5 God is gone up with a merry noise, * and the Lord with the sound of the trump.

6 O sing praises, sing praises unto our God; * O sing praises, sing praises unto our King.

7 For God is the King of all the earth: * sing ye praises with understanding.

8 God reigneth over the nations; * God sitteth upon his holy seat.

9 The princes of the peoples are joined unto the people of the God of Abraham; * for God, which is very high exalted, doth defend the earth, as it were with a shield.

Glory be to the Father, &c.

As it was in the beginning, &c. 

The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the prayers of thy people which call upon thee; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 60.1-9

Psalter: Psalm 47, 48 | 66, 67

Epistle Reading: Romans 12.1-5

Gospel Reading: St. Luke 2.41-52 

Homily

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*Here is a prayer I wrote in November based on John 11:35: Prayer – “Jesus Wept” 

*Further, this is my pastoral letter sent out to my congregation yesterday: 

When Operation Desert Storm began in earnest (17 January 1991), the news was saturated with air raid scenes, videos of tracer rounds racing upward in the night sky, explosions, etc. On that first day much of the town we lived in was frozen. Most everyone sat or stood glued to the TV sets. So, when I came home, I found my oldest daughter (8 years old at the time) standing in the living room, firmly fixed in front of the television. She turned to me with tears in her eyes and asked, “Daddy, are we being attacked? Daddy, are we going to die?” I did something at that instant that I have never regretted. I unplugged the TV, took scissors, and cut the plug! We didn’t have an operational television for some 15 years. But my daughter’s tearstained face has never left me. She had absorbed the concern, anxiousness, and alarm from our faces, voices, and media, and it unsettled her.

 

I tell the story for two reasons. First, to remind us that our children and grandchildren are listening and watching us. They are watching or overhearing the newsfeeds, our conversations, and the tones in our voices. They are picking up more from us than we may imagine, and in this present environment that is an important cue for us to reflect on. How we’re talking, the emotions we’re exhibiting, the worry in our eyes and creased corners of our mouths, and so on, they’re picking up.

 

But, secondly, we have something potent that has been given us that reorients our perspective. This is a little teaser for my sermon this Sunday on John 14:15-30, but I want to call your attention to the promise our Lord gives us. As he tells us of the promised present of the Paraclete (the Helper, Comforter, Counselor – the Spirit of truth) he says there is something very substantive that comes with the present of the Paraclete, and it is peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

 

Now, our Lord made this bold promise in an age and era when political forces lived by the rule of “might makes right” and had no problem crushing their opposition; when different ethnic groups rioted and attacked others; when one was more likely to meet injustice than justice in the streets and seats of power, with rarely any redress. And our Lord promises that with his ascension he will make a present of the Paraclete and peace, a peace unlike the kind our world gives and reneges on. A peace that is as permanent as is the Paraclete and enthronement of Jesus. Thus, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid”!

 

And toward the end of Paul’s life, that was the kind of thing Paul assured Timothy was still the case: “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). Paul wrote those words in the same situation Jesus spoke in, an age and era when political forces lived by the rule of “might makes right” and had no problem crushing their opposition; when different ethnic groups rioted and attacked others; when one was more likely to meet injustice than justice in the streets and seats of power, with rarely any redress.  And Paul, trusting Jesus, convinced Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords who has endowed us with the Paraclete and peace, says kindly but boldly to young, often anxious, Pastor Timothy, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control”.

 

And so, let us be those who trust in our Lord, convinced and confident that, come what may, our Lord Jesus has bequeathed to us the Spirit of truth, the comforter, counselor, helper. And, with him comes steadying, hope-filled peace. And let this be more of what our children and grandchildren pick up from us now, and always.

 

Brothers and sisters be filled with courage, for our Lord says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.


2021/01/06

Epiphany - 2021

 


The Epiphany, or the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles

6 January

Psalm 46. Deus noster refugium.

GOD is our hope and strength, * a very present help in trouble.

2 Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be moved, * and though the hills be carried into the midst of the sea;

3 Though the waters thereof rage and swell, * and though the mountains shake at the tempest of the same.

4 There is a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God; * the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most Highest.

5 God is in the midst of her, therefore shall she not be removed; * God shall help her, and that right early.

6 The nations make much ado, and the kingdoms are moved; * but God hath showed his voice, and the earth shall melt away.

7 The Lord of hosts is with us; * the God of Jacob is our refuge.

8 O come hither, and behold the works of the Lord, * what destruction he hath brought upon the earth.

9 He maketh wars to cease in all the world; * he breaketh the bow, and knappeth the spear in sunder, and burneth the chariots in the fire.

10 Be still then, and know that I am God: * I will be exalted among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth. 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; * the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 

The Collect.

O GOD, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only-begotten Son to the Gentiles: Mercifully grant, that we, which know thee now by faith, may after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

[Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 60.1-9]

Psalter: Psalm 96

Epistle Reading: Ephesians 3.1-11

Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 2.1-12 

Homily


2021/01/01

Second Sunday after Christmas - 2021

 


The Second Sunday after Christmas Day

Psalm 37 (v.1-6)

Noli aemulari

FRET not thyself because of the ungodly : neither be thou envious against the evil-doers.

2. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass : and be withered even as the green herb.

3. Put thou thy trust in the Lord, and be doing good : dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.

4. Delight thou in the Lord : and he shall give thee thy heart’s desire.

5. Commit thy way unto the Lord, and put thy trust in him : and he shall bring it to pass.

6. He shall make thy righteousness as clear as the light ; and thy just dealing as the noon-day. 

The Collect

ALMIGHTY GOD, who hast poured upon us the new light of thine incarnate Word; grant that the same light enkindled in our hearts may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 61.1-3

Psalter: Psalm 85, 87 | 90, 91

{Epistle Reading: Philippians 2.12-18}

Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 2.19-23 

This is from my pastoral letter for this last week: 

It’s confession time. This morning in my devotions I realized something I’d never really pondered. Since the time I was baptized in the Mediterranean Sea just south of Tarsus, Turkey, I have avoided Psalm 91. What I mean is that I would read it, and then rush past. The reason is because the chief slanderer, the arch-adversary misused it to tempt our Lord. He took it and waved it in front of Jesus as his offer of sunshine and success, health and wellness (Matthew 4:5-7, Luke 4:9-13). For almost 40 years I have found that Psalm, with all of its promises of deliverance, and disease-free living a hard pill to swallow. 

But this morning, not only did a see what I had been doing for decades, I also recognized that Psalm 91 must be read with Psalm 90, and all of its dusty descriptions of shortness of life (90:3-6), secret sins (90:7-8), insubstantiality (90:9-12), and suffering (90:13-17). Hard on the heels of such a stiff Psalm comes one that initially feels like the polar opposite. But Psalm 91 is all about the person who dwells in the shelter of the Most High and takes refuge in him (91:1-2, 9-10, 14-16). In a way, Psalm 91 is the answer to the closing prayer of Psalm 90 in verses 15-17. 

But Psalm 91 is also about our Lord Jesus, after his death and burial. Now, raised from the dead – body, blood, bones, toenails, and hair, gloriously transformed and never again subject to misery or mortality! But more, it is the promising picture of what we also can expect when our Lord returns to judge the living and the dead, to raise his own to “the resurrection of life” (John 5:29). Therefore, in the here-and-now, it adds fiber and fortification to our souls and hearts. This is what we will experience with our Lord unendingly, and we can feel it commencing now…sometimes…sort of. But as long as we live in the world of Psalm 90, it will only be tid-bits of Psalm 91 popping up unexpectedly. But still, it adds fiber and fortification to our souls. 

And this is what lies behind Paul’s courage in Philippians, when, while all isolated in his confinement, living with walled-barriers and imposed “social distancing”. And yet he can say, “as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (1:20-21). Here was a man living with a Psalm 91 faith in a Psalm 90 world, because he was confident in his Lord who is Psalm 91 in the flesh!

And that’s where we want to be, and on our better days, we are. It’s also why we happily sing, during this Christmas season, the words of “Good Christian Men, Rejoice!” And especially that third verse:

“Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice;

now ye need not fear the grave: Jesus Christ was born to save!

Calls you one and calls you all to gain his everlasting hall.

Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!”

 

Oh, dear brothers and sisters, in this Psalm 90 world, let us live with a Psalm 91 faith because of our Lord. In this way we can “rejoice, with heart and soul and voice” because “now ye need not fear the grave: Jesus Christ was born to save! Calls you one and calls you all to gain his everlasting hall. Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!”


Circumcision of Christ (1 January) and Feast of the Order (3 January) - 2021

 

The Circumcision of Christ (1 January).

Psalm 6. Domine, ne in furore.

O  LORD, rebuke me not in thine indignation, * neither chasten me in thy displeasure.

2 Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak; * O Lord, heal me, for my bones are vexed.

3 My soul also is sore troubled: * but, Lord, how long wilt thou punish me?

4 Turn thee, O Lord, and deliver my soul; * O save me, for thy mercy’s sake.

5 For in death no man remembereth thee; * and who will give thee thanks in the pit?

6 I am weary of my groaning; * every night wash I my bed, and water my couch with my tears.

7 My beauty is gone for very trouble, * and worn away because of all mine enemies.

8 Away from me, all ye that work iniquity; * for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.

9 The Lord hath heard my petition; * the Lord will receive my prayer.

10 All mine enemies shall be confounded, and sore vexed; * they shall be turned back, and put to shame suddenly.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY God, who madest thy blessed Son to be circumcised, and obedient to the law for man; Grant us the true Circumcision of the Spirit; that, our hearts, and all our members, being mortified from all worldly and carnal lusts, we may in all things obey thy blessed will; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

For the New Year: Almighty and Everlasting God, from whom cometh down every good and perfect gift; we give thee thanks for all thy benefits, temporal and spiritual, bestowed upon us in the year past, and we beseech thee of thy goodness, grant us a favorable and joyful year, defend us from all dangers and adversities, and send upon us the fullness of thy blessing; through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever One God, world without end. Amen (“The Book of Worship: Approved by the General Synod of the Evangelical Reformed Church,” 1947, p. 120).

 

Epistle Reading: Philippians 2.9-13

Gospel Reading: St. Luke 2.15-21

 Homily

 

Feast of the Order of Centurions (3 January)

Renewal of our Vows

Office of the Renewal of Vows 

On this day centurions may reaffirm the Vow of the Order in remembrance of the tradition of the centurions of the first centuries "Sacramentum". Another suggested day is January 1, or its eve, which was another day when the Roman Army soldiers would affirm their vows. 

New members may be received into the order. 


Where two or more are gathered, a leader will state the Sacramentum. For those without a Cohort, the Primus Pilus will state the Sacramentum at the Chapel of the Centurions.

I acknowledge Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior. I will endeavor to obey the Ten Commandments and the Summary of the Law, and follow the Rule of the Order of Centurions; and through faith and the aid of the Holy Spirit - fear God and do what is right. So help me God. 

Centurions and candidates, in turn, affirm their acceptance with the words, "The same in my case"

When a man was enlisted in the army, he received a special mark. All early Christians received an invisible mark at baptism, when he was sealed with the cross on the forehead.

The observance then may continue with Devotion or Eucharist using the following collect, readings, and sermon and Communion and/or an Agape banquet. If this office is performed on January 1, or its eve, then the appointed collects and the readings for the Circumcision may be used.
 

For the Scripture readings and homily