Monthly Archives: February 2011

What About Saint Matthias?

Today is the feast of the Apostle about whom we know next to nothing.  Saint Matthias’ name does not even occur in any one of the Gospels.  He appears once in the first chapter of The Acts of the Apostles and then is never heard from again.  Historical accounts of Matthias after Pentecost are contradictory and thoroughly unreliable.  What then are we to say about this Apostle?  How does one preach about his life, when we know virtually nothing about him?

We do know that, after the Ascension of Jesus, Saint Peter addressed the Apostles and Disciples and, after referring to prophecies regarding Judas’ betrayal, declared that they should choose another to fill the place among the Apostles left vacant by Judas.  Saint Peter declared:

“Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Thus, because of the failings of another, through no obvious merits of his own, Matthias was raised up into a group which he had not been a part of originally and was accorded all of the benefits of being an Apostle.  By the way, the name “Matthias” means “Gift of the LORD.”

Hopefully, you can now see that we all are Matthias. 

The Gospel reading for today comes from St. John’s Gospel and begins with Jesus teaching, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” (15:1, 6)  Consider the Our Lord’s words in the Gospel along-side St. Paul’s teaching to the Romans:

And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. … You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. (11:17-20)

Herein we see our story.  The Jews would not accept Jesus as the Messiah so they were broken off as withered branches.  The Gentiles, that would be us, did accept Jesus as the Messiah and, though born of a wild vine, were grafted into the True Vine.  This is not counted to us as merit because faith itself is a gift of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:9).  We have been grafted into the True Vine and become partakers of the “fatness of the olive tree” by faith, as a gift of the LORD, a Matthias, as it were.

I once heard a preacher declare, “I do not ever forget that I am only here because the person who was here before me failed.”  He elaborated, Joshua led Israel because Moses failed in the wilderness; David became King of Israel because Saul had failed in the position.  Matthias became an Apostle because Judas had not lived up to the standards set for that company.  I can think of more than a few pastors who came into their positions because of the failings or even the abandonment of their predecessors. 

Saint Matthias is a living reminder of God’s grace to and for us.  He was “grafted in” to the company of the Apostles, not through his own merits, but by God’s grace.  We were grafted into the company of the Children of God, not through our own merits, but by God’s grace.  Saint Matthias is also a warning to us.  He silently warns, “I am here because someone else failed and was thrown into the fire.  The same thing could happen to me if I stop taking my nourishment from the True Vine and stop bearing good fruit.  The same thing might happen to you…”

May we always draw our nourishment from Jesus Christ who is the True Vine.  May His nourishment produce good fruit in us, which in turn becomes the seed that brings those who do not know the LORD to the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ.

Almighty God, who in the place of Judas chose your faithful servant Matthias to be numbered among the Twelve: Grant that your Church, being delivered from false apostles, may always be guided and governed by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

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Father, Can You Explain the “Call No Man Father” Passage?

This one comes from a conversation with a visitor I had to our parish lately.  Obviously, as Evangelicals, we believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and that we should model our lives so that they mimic that which in contained in the Sacred Scriptures as much as possible.  While we are also traditionalists, we have rejected some traditions because they do not line up with Scriptural teachings.

With that in mind, why do we refer to our priests as “Father” when Jesus specifically says, “Call no man ‘father’”?

Before you could ever justify why we refer to our clergy as such, we really have to address what appears to be a crystal clear prohibition from Our Lord.  “Look,” says the critic, “He says right there in red letters, ‘Call no man father.’  Where do you get off saying, ‘That’s not what He meant?’”

The particular passage in question is Matthew 23:1-12 which may be found here.  These verses are a small part of a much longer discourse in Saint Mathew’s Gospel where Our Lord has gone into the Temple (after the Triumphal Entry) and has begun to teach the people who are gathered there.  The scene begins at Matthew 21:23 and continues through until 24:3 when Our Lord and the Apostles leave Jerusalem and retire to the Mount of Olives.  During His time teaching in the Temple, Our Lord addresses the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Scribes before, in Chapter 23, proclaiming judgment and “woe” upon the Scribes and Pharisees.

The idea that it is permissible to refer to another man as father, in direct (apparent) contradiction of Jesus’ instruction must be justified by other Scriptures.  Saint Paul tells his disciple Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  (II Timothy 3:16-17)  If all Scripture is inspired by God then it cannot contradict the teaching of Jesus who is “the Word Made Flesh.” (St. John 1:14)  That means that, if, elsewhere in the New Testament, we find passages referring to men as father, then Our Lord did not literally mean “do not call anyone your father.”

Are there such examples?  Yes, there are.  In his speech at Solomon’s Portico, Saint Peter uses the word ‘father’ to refer to their common Jewish ancestors, actually referring to the LORD as “the God of our fathers.” (Acts 3:13)  Saint Stephen begins the speech which leads to his martyrdom by addressing his listeners as “Brethren and fathers” and continues to use the word fourteen more times before he is stoned to death. (Acts 7:2ff) Saint Paul used the phrase frequently to refer to the ancestors, even going so far as to say that Abraham is the “father of us all!” (Romans 4:16-17)  Most strikingly, Saint Paul says to the Church at Corinth, “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (I Corinthians 4:15 ESV, see also NIV)  Saint Paul actually has the audacity to say I am a father to you Corinthians!  If Saint Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, told the Corinthians that he (St. Paul) was their father, how could Our Lord have really meant do not call any man your father?  Finally, how are you supposed to obey the fifth commandment to “Honor your father” (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16) if you are not allowed to address him as such?

So what did Our Lord really mean?  The actual injunction against calling men rabbis, fathers, and teachers comes near the end of a passage which concludes: “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (St. Matthew 23:11-12)  The heart of what Jesus is saying is do not go in for exalted titles.  Do not think of yourself as superior to anyone, do not exalt yourself over anyone, and, most importantly, do not expect to be treated specially because of your job or your title.  Jesus singles out the Scribes and the Pharisees because of their self-righteous and superior attitudes.  Our Lord begins a litany of charges and complaints against them.

Now, that may mean that it might be okay to call some men fathers, particularly fathers in the faith, but if those men maintain self-righteous, “holier than thou,” exalted attitudes which demand special treatment then it should not really matter whether you call them Pastor, Father, or Elder.  They have become modern day Scribes and Pharisees and their title is irrelevant; their hearts are in error.

How ought our priests to behave so that they do not run afoul of Our Lord’s warnings to the Scribes and Pharisees?  Before a man may ever be ordained priest, he must first be ordained and serve a term as a deacon.  The term “deacon” comes from the Greek word meaning “servant.”  We speak of the “ontological change” that occurs when one is ordained, a change in the very nature of one’s being (not unlike how one’s nature is changed when they are married and the two become one flesh).  That change is never undone; our priests always remain deacons.  That is why, as of late, we have had priests substitute for deacons in some of our services.  There is nothing wrong with this practice because the priests are still, in fact, deacons.  I was recently reminded that two of the primates in the ICCEC are known to wear a deacon’s stole under their chasuble as a reminder to themselves that they are still deacons and servants.

In addition, every year during Holy Week, the priests remind themselves and the congregation that they are still servants by following Our Lord’s example.  In the Maundy Thursday service, we repeat Our Lord’s words when Saint John tells us:

So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (13:12-17)

More than simply reading and teaching on this passage, as Sacramentalists, we act the passage out.  Just prior to the foot-washing in the Maundy Thursday service, the Celebrant stands before the congregation and reads:

“Fellow servants of our Lord Jesus Christ: On the night before His death, Jesus set an example for His disciples by washing their feet, an act of humble service. He taught that strength and growth in the life of the Kingdom of God comes not by power, authority, or even miracle, but by such lowly service. We all need to remember His example, but none stand more in need of this reminder than those whom the Lord has called to the ordained ministry.

Therefore, I invite you who share in the royal priesthood of Christ, to come forward, that I may recall whose servant I am by following the example of my Master…”

So, we have seen that Our Lord did not literally mean “do not call anyone your father.”  We have seen that what He meant was be wary of those who seek titles as a means of self-aggrandizement and use their positions to receive special treatment.  We have also seen that our priests, at least in principal, ought to never be engaged in such practices, yet just because a practice is not expressly forbidden does not mean that is should be done.  The question yet remains: why should we call our priests fathers?

The answer goes back to the history of the Jewish relationship with God.  Prior to the institution of the Levitical priesthood, priestly duties were carried on by the fathers.  They were the ones who made sacrifices for their families to make atonement, thanksgiving offerings and the like.  To an extent, we still see this in our wedding services.  We allow the groom, whether he be clerical of lay, to serve his wife Holy Communion on their wedding day in acknowledgment that the father is “the priest of his own household.”  This is nowhere more clearly expressed than in the Book of Judges when Micah invites the Levite to “Dwell with me, and be a father and a priest to me.” (17:10)  The phrase is again repeated in the next chapter.  The point is this: the priests were seen as fathers to the Children of Israel.  The ancient practices were not wholly forgotten and the priest was a father to his people.

Thus, as an heir to the Levitical priesthood, as a spiritual “father in the Lord” to their congregation, as long as they are not running afoul of the warning given in St. Matthew 23, the practices of referring to priests as “Father” goes back to the very institution of the Priesthood and is not forbidden by Holy Scripture.

And, by the way, I want to wish a happy birthday to my Father, whom I have no problem with calling such.  Happy Birthday, Dad!  I love you.

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Putting the Saint Back in Valentine’s Day

It is a little known fact that renowned Christian apologist C. S. Lewis had a bit of a Scrooge streak in him when it came to celebrating Christmas.  One can see that when reading his essays, “Christmas and X-mas,” “Delinquents in the Snow,” and “What Christmas Means to Me.”  In this third essay, Lewis concisely argues that the most deplorable aspect of Christmas is “the commercial racket.”  The essay is quite a good read (and can be found here) not only because of Lewis’ typical wit, but also because of his spot-on criticism of a commercial industry that had practically supplanted the original, religious origins of one on the most sacred feasts in Christianity by surrounding it with packages, wrapping papers, and Christmas cards that have not the slightest connection to the birth of the Messiah.  Were Lewis to witness this phenomenon as it now applies to “Valentine’s Day,” he would rise from the grave and run off on a mad Scrooge-like essay-writing spree!  He might even get a book or two out of the incident.

“Valentine’s Day” is that horrible beast of a day that Christmas might become were it not for the “Keep Christ in Christmas” crowd.  The ill-fated “Keep the ‘Saint’ in Saint Valentine’s Day” lobby never really made it off the ground  due in part to a rather cumbersome and not nearly as catchy title and the fact that they were too busy buying chocolates, roses, and planning a date night to adequately devote the time the project needed.

The commercial industry that surrounds “Valentine’s Day” has successfully divorced the day from its historical, religious significance.  You can now buy “Valentine’s Day” cards that have Scooby-Doo embossed upon them.  You can find them with Spider-Man, the X-Men, or the entire Justice League of America.  You can even find “Valentine’s Day” cards with the cast of The Office or Seinfeld.  What you cannot find these days is a card that actually portrays an image of Saint Valentine!

Jacopo Bassano's "Saint Valentine Baptizes Saint Lucila"

Most people today, even Roman-Catholics who are typically the most knowledgeable about the lives of the saints, know virtually nothing of the martyr who leant his name to the day.  It does not help the confusion that “Valentine” was a common name and there are multiple saintly men who bear that name.  Most likely, the Saint Valentine was a Roman priest who was martyred during the reign of the Emperor Claudius II.  The saint was apprehended and detained by the Emperor for continuing to marry Christian couples in spite of an Imperial edict forbidding marriages.  At the time, marriage exempted a newlywed from the compulsory military service and the empire needed its soldiers.  Valentine believed that it was God who decided who should be wed and who should not and, rightfully reasoning that the Emperor should not prevent what God had declared, defied the edict.  While in prison, he formed a relationship a young girl named Lucila, the daughter of his jailer who herself had been blind since birth.  Leading her to the Lord, he baptized Lucila and she miraculously received her sight.  Claudius II beheaded Valentine between 269 and 275 AD.

The day only really became associated with romantic love after the Middle Ages, beginning with legendary English poet Geoffrey Chaucer.  There is a line in Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules where the poet comments, “on Saint Valentine’s Day every bird chooses his mate.” [paraphrased from the Middle English]  When late Victorian shopkeepers realized they could make money off the sale of “Valentine’s Day,” they did what every good business man does; they took it, and are still taking it, as far as it can possibly go!  This has brought us to the hyper-commercialization of the secular holiday as we know it.

The religious element is inconvenient in today’s society.  We, as a culture, prefer to keep our sex and our religion as far apart as possible.  This is due in large part to the fact that Christianity proscribes a set of sexual ethics that incompatible with the sexual ethics of the larger American society.  Sex before marriage is practically standard.  How could one possibly think of marrying someone without having lived with them first?  Promiscuity and homosexuality are standard dinner table conversation in homes all around America where decades ago those words were completely taboo, let alone commonplace.

Saint Valentine stands in stark contrast to those trends.  He stands up before the Empires of Sexual Liberty and declares that marriage is a gift from God.  He proclaims to a lewd and lascivious generation that marriage is so sacred that it is worth dying for.  No, he is not saying your wife or husband or children are worth dying for (which they are), but the institution of marriage itself is worth dying for.

It is through marriage that we see Christ’s love for His Church pre-figured.  She is the Bride and Our Lord is the long-awaited Bridegroom.  What we do on Earth is a pale foreshadowing of the heavenly banquet when Our Savior comes to reclaim his beloved.  Then, we will not be simply guests at the wedding feast; we will be the guest-of-honor, the Bride herself.

There is nothing ungodly about romance.  Licentious promiscuity traipsing around under the guise of the “Day of All Lovers” is antithetical to True Love.  It demeans what our Lord has ordained for us in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony and it demeans the plan of salvation by taking the climax of all creation, the Wedding Feast of the Lord, and reducing it to rose-scented fornication in a heart-shaped candy box.

As we observe Saint Valentine’s Day, remember that today was a day where a man laid down his life to declare that it is God who calls a man and a woman to be joined together.  Remember that the Lord ordained it to be such so that we might have a pale foreshadowing of how much Our Lord truly loves his Bride the Church.  Remember that Marriage itself and the celebrations that go along with it are a foretaste of our true heavenly home.  Saint Valentine stood against Imperial Rome long ago.  May we, in love, stand against anything that devalues Holy Matrimony in our day.

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Why Did God Harden Pharaoh’s Heart?

The Seventh Plague (1823) by John Martin

This question comes from a “Stump the Priest” message that I received: “How do you interpret the differences between the love for all men that comes from Jesus versus the Jealous and Angry God of the Old Testament?”  His question arises from a discussion with his son about the Exodus, specifically the fourteen (or so) times wherein Holy Scriptures says that the LORD “hardened the heart of Pharaoh.”  So it is a fair question to ask why, in the New Testament, God loves the world so much that He gave His only Son, but, in the Old Testament, He refuses to allow Pharaoh to release the Hebrews and, therefore, brings calamitous destruction upon all Egypt.

The first and most important fact to recall when addressing this situation is that the Incarnation and, more specifically, the Resurrection of Our Lord are the very climax of all Creation.  Everything that God ever did pointed to the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead.  The battle is over; the victory is won.  Satan and his firstborn, Death, have been defeated.  From a cosmic point of view, the epoch of history in which we live is simply cleaning up the last remnants and stragglers of a battle that was an overwhelming victory.

Creation, the Fall, Cain and Abel, the Tower of Babel, Noah’s Ark, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all happened for the sake of pointing to, foreshadowing, and, ultimately, enlightening our understanding what happened between Good Friday and Easter Morning.  The Passover itself is an incredible foreshadowing of the death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  The faithful, being sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb, did not die when the Angel of Death came to their doors.  Does this previous sentence refer to the Israelites… or to the Church?  It refers to both!  On the night of the Passover, the Jews sprinkled the blood of the lamb on their doorposts and lintels so that when the Angel of Death came through Egypt, he would, literally, pass over the children of Israel.  St. John declares that we have been “washed… and made [them] white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:19)  The Blood of Jesus is the perfect atonement for our sins.  We who have been washed in His most precious Blood, do not die when Death comes knocking at our door.  One brief sleep and we awaken to eternal life with Our Lord forever.  The Passover was done to foreshadow the crucifixion of Jesus Christ!

This happened that the Apostles might look back on the events and recognize the majesty of God Almighty and understand some small inkling of the love He had for them… and for us as well!  Remember that God ordained an everlasting ordinance that Israel “relive” the Passover each and every year.  He wanted them to be sure they were familiar with the event so that when Jesus came they would understand the significance. 

So why did God make all of the firstborn of Egypt die?  Why couldn’t he have stopped with plague number 9?  If one investigates each of the Ten Plagues of Egypt, one finds that each and every plague was a deliberate slap in the face to one of the pagan gods of Egypt.  Their principal god was Ra, the god of the sun.  Our God made the sun dark and blotted the sun from out of the sky!  The Nile River was sacred to the Egyptians and associated with gods Knum and Hapi.  The Egyptians also considered blood to be unclean, so what did the LORD do?  He turned their sacred river into blood!  The list goes on. 

But why did the firstborn sons of Egypt have to die?  They died to show Our God’s majesty.  Remember that they viewed Pharaoh as a god.  Pharaoh’s firstborn son died… and stayed dead, as did the firstborn sons in all Egypt.  Our God’s firstborn son chose to lay down his life, he died for us… and rose again from the dead! 

God used the people of Egypt and the Pharaoh to show us how much He loves us.  He used the kings and armies of Assyria, Babylon and Persia for the same reasons.  Even if the pagans reject Him, they are still His creation and, essentially, His to do with as He pleases.  This may seem harsh to us, but, as Isaiah prophesied:

Moses Speaks to Pharaoh by James Tissot

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
or as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (55:8-1)

The LORD used the people of Egypt to show us just exactly how much He cares for His chosen and beloved people.  The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh in order to make sure that His plan happened the way it did so that the incredible love which God has for His people might be revealed.

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The Feast of the Presentation: A Convergence Feast

Today is the day on which the Church observes The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple, the event described in the Gospel According to Saint Luke 2:22-40.  This event in the life of Christ, and its yearly commemoration, ought to be one of our foremost observances in the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church because of its Biblical manifestation of Convergence Worship.

In the Gospel, six weeks after the birth of Jesus, the Holy Family travels from Bethlehem to Jerusalem to participate in the ancient rituals required by God in the Law and present their Son in the Temple.  While there, the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph are confronted by two different worshippers in the Temple who, anointed by the Spirit of God, prophesy over the newborn Messiah.  In this one passage of Holy Scripture we see Convergence Worship lived out in the Holy Gospel and Life of Christ.

To begin with, the Holy Family is following a Scriptural mandate.  In the book of Exodus the LORD commands Moses, saying, “Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine.” (13:2)  The LORD goes on to command the sacrifice of every firstborn male that “opens the womb,” be it man or beast.  Of course, firstborn sons are not really sacrificed but are rather “redeemed” by presenting them to the LORD.  This ritual is done in accordance with the Law of Moses as described in Leviticus 13.  According to that chapter, a woman who gives birth is ritually unclean for forty days.  During this time, “She shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary until the days of her purification are fulfilled.” (v. 4)  Later on, Scripture instructs,

“When the days of her purification are fulfilled, whether for a son or a daughter, she shall bring to the priest a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then he shall offer it before the LORD, and make atonement for her. And she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who has borne a male or a female. And if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she may bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons—one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.” (Leviticus 12:6-8)

What is important to realize here is that the Holy Family was just and faithful to adhere to the Law as it had been presented to them.  Later Pauline arguments about faith versus the Law are irrelevant at that point because Jesus had not yet fulfilled the Law.  The Holy Family was doing exactly what they were supposed to according to their Scriptures.  This is at the heart of Evangelicalism.  As Evangelicals, we believe that Holy Scripture contains all things necessary for salvation.  Our worship, though liturgical in its form, is Bible based and Bible-centered.  That is exactly what the Holy Family was doing!

Saint Joseph, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the infant Christ were worshipping in a liturgical fashion based on a series of texts from Holy Scripture.  Is that not the heart of what it is to be a sacramental worshipper?  Slaughtering a pair of birds did not somehow wash away the “messiness” of the birthing process.  No one washes in the blood of a bird in order to get their own blood off of them.  Neither did the all-knowing God finally realize where His Son had been hiding because the Holy Family presented Him to the LORD in the Temple.  These were sacramental acts.  They brought their gifts, along with their Son, the Son of the Most High God, to fulfill what was written in the Law.  In doing so, they were assured that a grace had been imparted to them.  The Blessed Virgin had been pronounced well enough to re-enter the normal Jewish life and the infant Jesus had been dedicated to the LORD and returned to the care of His parents.  What was happening there if they were not participating in outward, visible signs of inward, invisible graces?

Finally, in their adherence to the dictates of Holy Scripture and participation in sacramental worship, the Holy Spirit descended upon two different prophets and the Holy Family received two different inspired Words from the LORD.  First, Simeon the Righteous, the man who had been told by God that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Christ, was led by the Holy Spirit into the Temple where he met the Holy Family.  Just like Elizabeth before him, the Holy Spirit quickened Simeon and he recognized the infant Jesus as the Messiah.  After an inspiring (and inspired) hymn of praise to the Lord, Simeon turned to the Blessed Virgin Mary and declared, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (St. Luke 2:34)  Then, the prophetess Anna, a widow of at least eighty-four years old, arriving at that moment, recognized what was transpiring, “gave thanks to the LORD, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” (v. 38)

This is what we long for in our services.  This is what we beg the LORD that He might cause to happen every Sunday.  This is the heart of Convergence Worship.  This is worship that is Evangelical, Sacramental, and Charismatic.  Would that all of our people knew the Biblical foundations of every aspect of our worship.  If only the people realized how much grace was truly imparted to them in the partaking of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ!  How many people could be set free by the prophetic Word of God spoken by anointed prophets and prophetesses?

This passage in the Life of Christ is who we are as a Church.  Convergence worship is not some idea someone came up with on their own in the early nineties.  It is not a product of the Charismatic Renewal movement.  It is a Biblical standard where all three streams flow as one mighty river from the Throne of our God.  May we all stand where those three streams converge as one mighty river and let the waters of the LORD wash over us.

Almighty and ever-living God, we humbly pray that, as your only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple, so we may be presented to you with pure and clean hearts by Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

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