Advent Antiphons–December 18

From The Book of Common Worship’s Times and Seasons (p.58).

These antiphons, or refrains, all beginning ‘O …’, were sung before and after the Magnificat at Vespers, according to the Roman use, on the seven days preceding Christmas Eve (17–23 December). They are addressed to God, calling for him to come as teacher and deliverer, with a tapestry of scriptural titles and pictures that describe his saving work in Christ. In the medieval rite of Salisbury Cathedral that was widely followed in England before the Reformation, the antiphons began on 16 December and there was an additional antiphon (‘O Virgin of virgins’) on 23 December; this is reflected in the Calendar of The Book of Common Prayer, where 16 December is designated O Sapientia (O Wisdom). The Common Worship Calendar has adopted the more widely used form. It is not known when and by whom the antiphons were composed, but they were already in use by the eighth century.

18 December – O Adonai

O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

–cf Exodus 3.2; 24.12

A Prayer for All Saints Day (2)

Blessed are you, Sovereign God,
ruler and judge of all,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
In the darkness of this age that is passing away
may the light of your presence which the saints enjoy
surround our steps as we journey on.
May we reflect your glory this day
and so be made ready to see your face
in the heavenly city where night shall be no more.
Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever. Amen.

A Prayer for All Saints Day (1)

Almighty God,
you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship
in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord:
grant us grace so to follow your blessed saints
in all virtuous and godly living
that we may come to those inexpressible joys
that you have prepared for those who truly love you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Augustine on the Saints of God

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With humans this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”— Matthew 19.25-26

The saints are those who are moved by God’s grace to do whatever good they do. Some are married and have intercourse with their spouse sometimes for the sake of having a child and sometimes just for the pleasure of it. They get angry and desire revenge when they are injured, but are ready to forgive when asked. They are very attached to their property but will freely give at least a modest amount to the poor. They will not steal from you but are quick to take you to court if you try to steal from them. They are realistic enough to know that God should get the main credit for the good that they do. They are humble enough to admit that they are the sources of their own evil acts. In this life God loves them for their good acts and gives forgiveness for their evil, and in the next life they will join the ranks of those who will reign with Christ forever.

–Augustine of Hippo, Against Two Letters of the Pelagians, 3.5.14

One of the reasons I love Augustine is that he was never afraid to be real. As we read his description of the saints, we cannot help but wonder how these folks can be enjoying their rest with their Lord. I mean, look at their flaws Augustine is pointing out!

Here’s the answer. They have died with Christ and so are raised with him (Romans 6.8) They were buried with Christ in the waters of baptism so that they might rise with him in his resurrection (Romans 6.3-5). And when they were alive, their lives were hidden with Christ (Colossians 3.3-4).

For you see, it is not about the saints or our worthiness. None of us is worthy to stand before God in God’s perfect holiness! Rather, it is about what God has done for us in Jesus so that through his death we might enjoy real peace and reconciliation with God (Romans 5.111). In Jesus, God condemned sin in the flesh so that we might be equipped to live with God forever, both here on earth in the power of the Spirit and in God’s promised new creation (Romans 8.3-418-25). This is what Jesus reminds us in the passage above from Matthew and that’s why we have hope for the Christian dead and ourselves on All Saints Day. Jesus is Lord, even over death!

Is this your hope or are you clinging to something less which is bound to fail? On this All Saints Day may God grant you the grace, wisdom, and courage to embrace the hope offered to you in Jesus. Come celebrate our victory over death in Christ this Sunday as we celebrate the communion of saints!

From the Pen of Lancelot Andrewes

I have selected two short excerpts from his Personal Devotions. The first is an excerpt from an intercessory prayer he wrote and the second is an excerpt from evening prayers. Don’t get hung up on the historical situations of the intercessory prayer. Instead, look for the intent behind the language and use them to pray, for example, for folks in the finance industry or IT industries. Enjoy and be edified by them.

Intercessions

Grant to our population to be subject unto the higher powers,
not only for wrath, but also for conscience-sake.
Grant to farmers and graziers good seasons;
to the fleet and fishers fair weather;
to tradesmen, not to overreach one another;
to mechanics, to pursue their business lawfully,
down to the meanest workman,
down to the poor.
O God, not of us only but of our seed,
bless our children among us,
to advance in wisdom as in stature,
and in favor with thee and with humans.

I commend to thee, O Lord,
my soul, and my body,
my mind, and my thoughts,
my prayers, and my vows,
my senses, and my limbs,
my words, and my works,
my life, and my death;
my brothers, and my sisters,
and all their children;
my friends, my benefactors, my well wishers,
those who have a claim on me;
my kindred, and my neighbors,
my country, and all Christendom.
I commend to thee, Lord,
my impulses, and my startings,
my intentions, and my attempts,
my going out, and my coming in,
my sitting down, and my rising up.

Devotions

An Evening Prayer

The day is gone, and I give thee thanks, O Lord.
Evening is at hand, make it bright unto us.
As day has its evening so also has life;
the even of life is age,
age has overtaken me, make it bright unto us.
Cast me not away in time of age;
forsake me not when my strength fails me.
Abide with me, Lord,
for it is toward evening,
and the day is far spent of this fretful life.
Let your strength be made perfect in my weakness.

Devotions

More From Lancelot Andrewes

Here is another excerpt from Lancelot Andrewes’ major work, Private Devotions. Enjoy and meditate on his writing below.

A Profession of Faith

Godhead, paternal love, power,
providence:
salvation, anointing, adoption,
lordship;
conception, birth, passion,
cross, death, burial,
descent, resurrection, ascent,
sitting, return, judgment;
Breath and Holiness,
calling from the Universal,
hallowing in the Universal,
communion of saints, and of saintly things,
resurrection,
life eternal.

Devotions

Lancelot Andrewes

In celebration of Lancelot Andrewes’ feast day today, I quote from Richard Schmidt’s book, Glorious Companions: Five Centuries of Anglican Spirituality.

Andrewes’  life, theology, sermons, and devotions all reveal balance, order, and planning. Andrewes was catholic. He believed in “One canon [the Bible] reduced to writing by God himself, two testaments, three creeds, four general councils, five centuries, and the series of fathers in that period–the centuries, that is, before Constantine, and two after, determine the boundary of our faith.” That has been the norm for Anglican theologizing ever since. Andrewes’ chief legacy, however, is his Private Devotions. The heart of the Devotions [from which all excerpts will come this week] is a set of seven exercises, one for each day of the week. The themes follow the six days of Creation. All seven daily devotions are structured identically, with six sections…These are, clearly, the prayers of a man who prayed regularly and methodically. pp.36-37

I find in Andrewes writing a sense of beauty and wonder toward God, and a deep spirituality and humility. I hope you will find his writings to be likewise and edifying for you.

Teach me to do the thing that pleases thee, for you are my God;Let your loving Spirit lead me into the land of righteousness. Quicken me, O Lord, for your name’s sake, and for your righteousness sake bring my soul out of trouble; remove from me foolish imaginations, inspire those which are good and pleasing in your sight. Turn away my eyes lest they behold vanity; let my eyes look right on, and let my eyelids look straight before me. Hedge up my ears with thorns lest they incline to undisciplined words. Give me early the ear to hear, and open my ears to the instruction of your oracles. Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, and keep the door of my lips. Let my word be seasoned with salt, that it may minister grace to the hearers.

Devotions

Lancelot Andrewes: A Prayer for Grace (2)

Here is another excerpt from Lancelot Andrewes’ book, Private Devotions.

Two things have I required of you, O Lord,
deny me not before I die;
remove far from me vanity and lies;
give me neither poverty or riches,
feed me with food convenient for me;
lest I be full and deny you and say, who is the Lord?
Or lest I be poor and steal,
and take the name of my God in vain.
Let me learn to abound, let me learn to suffer need,
in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
For nothing earthly, temporal, mortal, to long nor to wait.
Grant me a happy life, in piety, gravity, purity,
in cheerfulness, in health, in credit,
in competency, in safety, in gentle estate, in quiet;
a happy death,
a deathless happiness.

Devotions

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Lancelot Andrewes, Anglican Bishop and Divine

Andrewes is one of my favorite Anglicans.

Lord God,
who gave to Lancelot Andrewes many gifts of your Holy Spirit,
making him a man of prayer and a pastor of your people:
perfect in us that which is lacking in your gifts,

of faith, to increase it,
of hope, to establish it,
of love, to kindle it,

that we may live in the light of your grace and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

From here.

Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626), Bishop of Winchester, was on the committee of scholars that produced the King James Translation of the Bible, and probably contributed more to that work than any other single person. It is accordingly no surprise to find him not only a devout writer but a learned and eloquent one, a master of English prose, and learned in Latin, Greek, Hebrew and eighteen other languages. His sermons were popular in his own day, but are perhaps too academic for most modern readers. He prepared for his own use a manuscript notebook of Private Prayers, which was published after his death. The material was apparently intended, not to be read aloud, but to serve as a guide and stimulus to devout meditation.

Jeremy Taylor: A Prayer for a Holy Life

O do to your servant as you used to do to those that love your name; let your truth comfort me, your mercy deliver me, your staff support me, your grace sanctify my sorrow, and your goodness pardon all my sins, your angels guide me with safety in this shadow of death, and your most holy spirit lead me into the land of righteousness, for your name’s sake, which is so comfortable, and for Jesus Christ his sake, our dearest Lord and most gracious Savior. Amen.

—Jeremy Taylor, Holy Dying

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Jeremy Taylor, Anglican Bishop and Divine

O God, whose days are without end, and whose mercies cannot be numbered: Make us, like your servant Jeremy Taylor, deeply aware of the shortness and uncertainty of human life; and let your Holy Spirit lead us in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

ACNS: Anglican Vicar of Baghdad: “Child I baptised cut in half by ISIS”

From the Anglican Communion News Service.

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Canon Andrew White

The five-year-old son of a founding member of Baghdad’s Anglican church was cut in half during an attack by the Islamic State1 on the Christian town of Qaraqosh.

In an interview today, an emotional Canon Andrew White told ACNS that he christened the boy several years ago, and that the child’s parents had named the lad Andrew after him.

“I’m almost in tears because I’ve just had somebody in my room whose little child was cut in half,” he said. “I baptised his child in my church in Baghdad2. This little boy, they named him after me – he was called Andrew.”

The fact that Andrew’s brother was named George after St George’s Anglican Church in Iraq’s capital demonstrates the strong ties the family had to the church there. The boy’s father had been a founder member of the church back in 1998 when the Canon had first come to Baghdad. Canon White added, “This man, before he retired north to join his family was the caretaker of the Anglican church.”

Though the move north should have proved safer for the Iraqi Christian family, the Islamic State made sure that it became a place of terror. “This town of Qaraqosh is a Christian village so they knew everybody there was part of their target group,” said Canon White. “They [the Islamic State] attacked the whole of the town. They bombed it, they shot at people.”

Read it all.