Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Nativity of Eyesus Kristos



[1] God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
[2] 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;
[3] Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
[4] Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
[5] For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
[6] And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
[7] And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.
[8] But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
[9] Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
[10] And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:
[11] They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;
[12] And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

- Hebrews 1.1-12

[1] And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
[2] (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
[3] And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
[4] And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
[5] To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
[6] And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
[7] And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
[8] And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
[9] And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
[10] And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
[11] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
[12] And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
[13] And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
[14] Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
[15] And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
[16] And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
[17] And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
[18] And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
[19] But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
[20] And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

- Luke 2.1-20

Christmas Readings



[1] God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
[2] 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;
[3] Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
[4] Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
[5] For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
[6] And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
[7] And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.
[8] But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
[9] Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
[10] And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:
[11] They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;
[12] And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

- Hebrews 1.1-12

[1] And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
[2] (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
[3] And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
[4] And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
[5] To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
[6] And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
[7] And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
[8] And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
[9] And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
[10] And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
[11] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
[12] And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
[13] And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
[14] Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
[15] And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
[16] And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
[17] And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
[18] And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
[19] But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
[20] And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

- Luke 2.1-20

Sunday, December 20, 2015

His name [is] Eyesus: for he shall save his people from their sins

As we come close to the Nativity of Kristos, one of the passages read in the Church is from Matthew chapter 1, verses 1-25, which records 14 generations from Abraham to King David, 14 generations from David to the Babylonian Exile, and 14 generations from the Exile to Christ. This genealogy includes women, which was not the usual custom for Jewish genealogies at the time. The inclusion of female ancestors foreshadows the role of the Virgin Maryam in the history of redemption.

The genealogy also includes many sinful figures, including  Thamar, the prostitute who bore children to Judas, one of the 12 Patriarchs, and King David who committed adultery and murder, and Bathsheba, David's adulterous lover. This highlights the solidarity of the Messiah with sinners. No one is good but God. But the angel reveals to Joseph that the name of Maryam's Child will be named "Eyesus: for he shall save his people from their sins (verse 21)."

I read verse 21 with joy this morning, for a Messiah has been given to us, who will save us from our sins. The gospel assures me that I have a Savior who will save me from my sins, no matter what they are, no matter how I have failed. There is mercy for my failings. This is the Good News of Christmas.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


1 The book of the generation of Eyesus Kristos, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;
4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;
5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;
6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;
7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;
8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;
9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;
10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;
11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:
12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;
13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;
14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;
15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;
16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Maryam, of whom was born Eyesus, who is called Kristos.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Kristos are fourteen generations.
18 Now the birth of Eyesus Kristos was on this wise: When as his mother Maryam was espoused to Joseph, before they came together , she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example , was minded to put her away privily.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Maryam thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name EYESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name EYESUS.


- Matthew 1.1-25 KJV

His name [is] JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins

Today is the Sunday of the Ancestors of Christ in the Byzantine Churches. It is also known variously as the Sunday of the Genealogy of Christ, the Sunday of the Fathers, and the Sunday of the Forefathers.

The Gospel passage is Matthew 1.1-25, which records 14 generations from Abraham to King David, 14 generations from David to the Babylonian Exile, and 14 generations from the Exile to Christ. This genealogy includes women, which was not the usual custom for Jewish genealogies at the time. The inclusion of female ancestors foreshadows the role of the Virgin Mary in the history of redemption.

The genealogy also includes many sinful figures, including  Thamar, the prostitute who bore children to Judas, one of the 12 Patriarchs, and King David who committed adultery and murder, and Bathsheba, David's adulterous lover. This highlights the solidarity of the Messiah with sinners. No one is good but God. But the angel reveals to Joseph that the name of Mary's Child will be named "JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins (verse 21)."

I read verse 21 with joy this morning, for a Messiah has been given to us, who will save us from our sins. The gospel assures me that I have a Savior who will save me from my sins, no matter what they are, no matter how I have failed. There is mercy for my failings. This is the Good News of Christmas.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;
4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;
5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;
6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;
7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;
8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;
9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;
10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;
11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:
12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;
13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;
14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;
15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;
16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done , that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold , a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.


- Matthew 1.1-25 KJV

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Haile Selassie's 1963 Speech on Racism

“That until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned: That until there are no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation; That until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes; That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained; And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed; Until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and good-will; Until all Africans stand and speak as free beings, equal in the eyes of all men, as they are in the eyes of Heaven; Until that day, the African continent will not know peace. We Africans will fight, if necessary, and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil.”

His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie I, in a speech to the United Nations on October 6, 1963. The words from this speech were incorporated, almost verbatim, in the Bob Marley classic, War

Read the whole speech here: http://www.nazret.com/history/him_un.php


Watch  a live performance of Bob Marley’s War here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loFDn94oZJ0

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Accuser of our Brethren


If you get down and you quarrel everyday,
 You're saying prayers to the devils, I say...
Why not help one another on the way?
 Make it much easier.

- Bob Marley, in his song, Rastaman Vibration 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

It is the devil who condemns. It is the devil that sows discord among people.

One time, a friend of mine was condemning me over the phone, and was going on and on about how rotten I was, and I answered, "that's devil talk!"

When we condemn, or refuse to forgive, or judge harshly, we are giving place to the devil (2 Corinthians 2.11, Ephesians 4.27). The devil in the Book of Zecharia is a like a prosecutor, seeking to condemn us. But Eyesus Kristos is our advocate (1 John 2.2), standing by our side to recommend us to the Father.



++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.

- Revelation 12.10


Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of Yah, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And Yah said to Satan, “Yah rebuke you, Satan! Yah who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.”And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of Yah stood by.

- Zecharia 3.1-5


And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Eyesus Kristos the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

- 1 John 2.1b-2

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Patriarch Bartholomew: Protecting the Planet is a Sacred Task...

Patriarch Bartholomew I, the First Among Equals in the Eastern Orthodox Communion, has been known as "the Green Patriarch," and with good reason. He has been tireless over the years in speaking out on the environment, and linking it to a Christian, Sacramental theology of the Creation.
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Bartholomew said that protecting the planet for Christians is a "sacred task and a common vocation," when he spoke on Nov. 3 at Lambeth Palace in London. "Global warming is a moral crisis and a moral challenge."

"Basic human rights such as access to water, clean air and sufficient food should be available to everyone without distinction or discrimination.

"We are convinced that we cannot separate our concern for human dignity, human rights or social justice from the concern for ecological preservation and sustainability."

Read more Ecumenical News.

Monday, November 23, 2015

St. Ignatius of Antioch- Instruct others by our works

"And pray ye without ceasing in behalf of other men. For there is in them hope of repentance that they may attain to God. See, then, that they be instructed by your works, if in no other way. Be ye meek in response to their wrath, humble in opposition to their boasting: to their blasphemies return your prayers; in contrast to their error, be ye stedfast in the faith; and for their cruelty, manifest your gentleness."

- St. Ignatius of Antioch

Friday, November 20, 2015

Ras Tafari: Jah Love constrains us to preach the Good News

Ras Tafari venerates the Holy Cross


“The love shown by our God to mankind should constrain all of us who are followers and disciples of Christ, to do all in our power to see to it that the message of salvation is carried to those of our fellows for whom Christ our Savior was sacrificed but who have not had the benefit of hearing the good news.”

- H.I.M. Haile Selassie I  (Ras Tafari)
 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

You shall love the alien as yourself

I think every Christian and those who care about social justice should copy the passage from Lev. 19.33,34 onto a postcard and mail it to house speaker Paul Ryan. -  Lance

And if a resident alien dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The resident alien who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were resident aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

- Leviticus 19.33,34, St. Athanasius Academy Septuagint

We must not be taken aback by [the numbers of immigrants], but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matthew 7:12).

- Pope Francis in his speech to the U.S. Congress

The Miaphysite Faith of Emperor Haile Selassie I

The reflection on the single nature of Christ was written by an online friend of mine who is Ethiopian Orthodox, with his permission. He does not want any credit for it, he seeks to promote the message of Christ. He is a humble believer. I did not edit this at all except for one unavoidable typo. I think my friend makes a strong case for the Oriental (Miaphysite) Orthodox Christiology. - Lance


The Faith of Our Emperor, Haile Selassie the 1st

"Tewahedo" is the Ethiopian term (meaning "made one") which is the best expression conveying the faith of the Church, since it emphasizes the inseparable unity of the Godhead and manhood in the Person of Christ. The Church's official title is "The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Bete Christian"... After the union, Christ was no longer in two natures. The two natures became united into one nature without separation, without confusion and without change. Thus He was at the same time perfect God and perfect man. This is the union of the natures in the Incarnation. After the union Christ is not two persons or two natures. but one Person, one incarnate Nature of God the Son, with one will, but being at once divine and human. If you separate the natures after the union and say that Christ is in two natures, you will be confronted with serious problems. You will have to admit, for instance, that Christ was crucified merely as a man and that therefore he did not redeem the world, for God alone is able to accomplish the world's redemption. In brief, it is held that Christ, in acting, acted as a united being, not separately as man or separately as God.


Monday, November 9, 2015

The Deuterocanon by Dr. Wil Gafney

One of the most gifted and brilliant Bible scholars in our Church, the Episcopal Church, on the status Deuterocanonical Books of the Bible...isn't it typical, that it was an American, who thought he could shorten the Bible...
 
"The Protestant Bible is the shortest and newest of Christian bibles and used by the fewest number of Christians around the world, yet its adherents – particularly in the American context – are the loudest. Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Episcopal bibles like the original 1611 King James Version of the bible, Martin Luther's revolutionary translation and the earliest manuscript with both testaments, Codex Sinaticus, have 72 to 80 books or more and are read by the vast majority of Christians on the planet, more than a billion and a half people. There is perhaps the most diversity among the Orthodox with Ethiopian Orthodox including Jubilees and the Books of Enoch and some Slav churches including all four Esdrases. There are 29,474 verses in longer versions of the First Testament, including the Deutero-canonical (or Apocryphal Books). Many are unaware that the shorter Protestant bible was created in the new America, during the revolutionary war when a printer took it upon himself without the authority of a church council to print a bible whose contents he chose. That bible, The Aitken Bible is also significant for having been printed with the authority of the Continental Congress."


- Dr. Wil Gafney

http://www.wilgafney.com/2013/03/17/jesus-bible-and-the-history-channels-bible/

The Bible & Tradition in the Ethiopian Church

 
 
The Ethiopic Bible
The Holy Scriptures are one of the two great foundations of the faith and here is what our church holds and teaches concerning it. The word of God is not contained in the Bible alone, it is to be found in tradition as well. The Sacred Scriptures are the written word of God who is the author of the Old and New Testaments containing nothing but perfect truth in faith and morals. B...ut God’s word is not contained only in them, there is an unwritten word of God also, which we call apostolic tradition. We receive the one and other with equal veneration.

The canon of the Ethiopic Bible differs both in the Old and New Testament from that of any other churches.
List all books. As a whole, books written in the Geez language and on parchment are numerous. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has 46 books of the Old Testament and 35 books of the New Testament that will bring the total of canonized books of the Bible to 81.

These are the following
A. The Holy Books of the Old Testament
1. Genesis
2. Exodus
3. Leviticus
4. Numbers
5. Deuteronomy
6. Joshua
7. Judges
8. Ruth
9. I and II Samuel
10. I and II Kings
11. I Chronicles
12. II Chronicles
13. Jublee
14. Enoch
15. Ezra and Nehemia
16. Ezra (2nd) and Ezra Sutuel
17. Tobit
18. Judith
19. Esther
20. I Maccabees
21. II and III Maccabees
22. Job
23. Psalms
24. Proverbs
25. Tegsats (Reproof)
26. Metsihafe Tibeb (the books of wisdom)
27. Ecclesiastes
28. The Song of Songs
29. Isaiah
30. Jeremiah
31. Ezekiel
32. Daniel
33. Hosea
34. Amos
35. Micah
36. Joel
37. Obadiah
38. Jonah
39. Nahum
40. Habakkuk
41. Zephaniah
42. Haggai
43. Zechariah
44. Malachi
45. Book of Joshua the son of Sirac
46. The Book of Josephas the Son of Bengorion

B. The holy books of the New Testament
1. Matthew
2. Mark
3. Luke
4. John
5. The Acts
6. Romans
7. I Corinthians
8. II Corinthians
9. Galatians
10. Ephesians
11. Philippians
12. Colossians
13. I Thessalonians
14. II Thessalonians
15. I Timothy
16. II Timothy
17. Titus
18. Philemon
19. Hebrews
20. I Peter
21. II Peter
22. I John
23. II John
24. III John
25. James
26. Jude
27. Revelation
28. Sirate Tsion (the book of order)
29. Tizaz (the book of Herald)
30. Gitsew
31. Abtilis
32. The I book of Dominos
33. The II book of Dominos
34. The book of Clement
35. Didascalia

The Ethiopic version of the Old and New Testament was made from the Septuagint. It includes the book of Enoch, Baruch, and the third and fourth Esdras. In the international Bible studies there are certain books belonging to the class usually designated pseudepigraphic. The whole Christendom and whole-learned world owes a debt of gratitude to the church of Ethiopia for the preservation of those documents.

Among these books is the book of Enoch which throws so much light on Jewish thought on various points during the centuries immediately preceding the Christian era. The book of Jubilee (Kufale, i.e. Division) otherwise known as the Little Genesis has also been preserved entire only in the Ethiopic version. The preservation of yet one more book in its entity, namely, the Ascension of Isaiah, is to be remembered to the credit of the Ethiopic Church.

But books, which should be considered for higher education and could be prepared carefully in order to suit modern thinking, are the following.

1. Theological books such as the following
- Haymanote Abew or the Faith of the Fathers in which other writings of the Apostolic Fathers and also of the Eastern Orthodox Church fathers are to be found.
- Works of St. Cyril and many other writers.
- The exegesis of the letter to the Hebrews by St. John Chrysostom.
- The pastoral work of St. John Chrysostom.
- Severious of Asmunage – a collection of twelve exegetical works, which prove the teaching concerning God.
- A book that proves the existence of God Hilawae – Melekote
- The book of Hawi, which proves the teaching concerning God.
- Book of the mystery by Abba Georgis containing arguments and evidence about the mysteries.
- Religious documentary book by Jacob of Elbaredia.
- The true faith (written during the reign of Zera Yacob)
- The five pillars of the Sacraments (as Catechism).

M E I L A D
2. Books that have the orders of the church
- The liturgical book with the 14 Anaphora
- Ghitsacwa –Lectionaries or a list of annual reading of the scriptures during the liturgical service and other prayer hours.
- The book of the Sacrament of Matrimony (Metsehafe Teklil)
- The book of Baptism
- The book of Ordination
- The book of Covenant
- The prayer book for the dead
- The prayer book of the Incense
- The book of Canon
- The prayer book of purification

3. Books on Church administration and on counseling
- A big book on the Synod of the Apostles in four parts
- The Didache and Abthulis
- The book on the Synod of Nicea
- The book on the Synod of Galatia
- The book on the Synod of Antioch
- The book on the Synod of Lethokia
- The book on the Synod of Kerthica
- The book on the Synod of Esrskousia
- The book on the Synod of Srethia
- The book of Fetha Negast
- Spiritual Medicine (Fewse Menfsawi)
- Exegesis on the meeting of clergy (Tikbe Kahenat)

4. Scared books
Most of these books are written in sections or parts for bindings, these are
- The old & The New Testaments
- The Books of the scholars of the Church
- Metsehafe Menequsat (book of the Monks)

5. Hymn books, mostly by St. Yared
- Digua
- Thesome Digua
- Mieraf
- Zimare
- Mewasiet
- Zik
- Mezmur
- Liturgy (Kedasie)
- Saatat (of ABBA Giorgis)

6. Books on Calendar
- Book of Abushakir
- Sid, the Son of Batrik
- Mark son of Kenbar
- Leader of Blind – by Demetros
- Mathematics concerning calendar by the Monastery of Bizen

7. Historical Books
- First writing on Zion
- Biography (Gedle) of Lalibela
- History of the Kings of Axum
- History of the Kings of Zagwe
- On the treasure of the kings
- On the honor of the Kings
- Tefut
- Biography (Gedle) of Tekla Haimanot
- George the son of Amid
- History of Alexander
- Works of the brothers – Part II
- Books on preaching

8. Compositions (works) on the virgins (celibates)
- Writings (compositions) on the woman who anointed Jesus
- Compositions (writings) on the Samaritan woman
- Writings on the birth of Christ
- Writings on Epiphany
- Writings on the Resurrection etc.

9. Writings that describe the biography of the martyrs
Biography and works of St. George
“ “ “ St. Kopnious
“ “ “ St. Irenaeus
“ “ “ St. Gelwdewos
“ “ “ Forty soldiers of Heaven

10. Different philosophical books
- Wogris the Wise (philosopher)
- Angare Felasfa (collections from philosophers)
- Thoughts and commentary of Zera Yacob of Axum

11. Books on the tradition and culture of the country
- On old age and adolescence
- Customs and traditions of Ethiopia

12. Books on nature and science
- Books on nature and science Part II and I
- Aximaros
- Phisalgos on animals and others

13. Books, which show writings of compositions
- The composition or writing of one of the criminals (outlaws), who was hanged with Jesus
- On the Miracles of St. Mary and many other apocryphal books are to be found.

14. Ancient grammatical books
There are very many grammatical books written by different people and found at different places in the world. The above noted are but a very few examples from among the different books numbered by the thousands that the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church has. In the past, at present and even in the future either in the church or at the schools what the church uses for educational services was and will not be outside of these books.

In the past, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church had not much opportunity to expand and propagate the above, noted doctrine and orders of the church inside and outside the nation; this is because of the different circumstances prevailing in the surroundings of the country. Because of the advent of European Colonialism upon its neighboring African countries and the great monetary support that other religious groups received to convert Africans. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church had no other choice but to defend on and preserve all here Christian legacy. Henceforth, she was unable to raise her apostolic voice louder among her African brothers and sisters. Nevertheless, the sense of freedom that the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church maintained for centuries being, the torch of freedom to all Africa has enabled Africans to be aware of their freedom.

In this 20th century, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church is conducting many apostolic missions – that is organizing church councils and founding clergy training programs within the country; and carrying on her apostolic missionary activities.

CANON LAW
The canons, regulations of Christian instruction and worship of the Ethiopian Church, are contained in the Sinodos and Didascalia, two compilations of ancient church canons, dating from the second period of Ethiopic literature. These canons are closely associated with the New Testament.

The Sinodos, classed as part of Ethiopic New Testament, is composed of various elements: Constitutions of Apostles, the Statutes of the Apostles, the Canons of the Apostles, the canons of Various councils-Nicaea, Gangra, Sardica, Antioch, New-Caesarca, Aneyra, Laodienea – and various theological and pastoml treatises. Eight books make up the Sinodos. Sinodos is the Corpus juris Ecclesiastic of the Church. The various discourses and treaties included in this Corpus are:
1. An exposition of the dialogue ascribed to St. John Chrysostom.
2. On the Essence of the Holy Trinity.
3. On the fear of God.
4. On the ancient people and a refutation of the Jews.
5. A discourse of St. Gregory of Armenia against the Jews.
6. Hortatory discourse to believers who desire to walk in the paths of wisdom and knowledge.
7. Hortatory discourse to believers who desire to walk in the paths of wisdom and knowledge.
8. The discourse of the Nicene Fathers on the Holy Trinity.
9. The penitential canons of our Lord to Peter.

The Didascalia a document well known in the Christian Church originally composed in Greek probably in the middle of the third century, a discourse on Church life and society. The whole work was afterwards, somewhere in the fourth century, incorporated in the Apostolic Constitutions. It has Latin, Arabic and Syriac versions, which differ among themselves and from the Ethiopic version with regard to the subject matter. The Ethiopia Didascalia contains the first seven books of the Apostolic Constitutions and it represents a form intermediate between the shorter Syriac Didascalia and the complete work of Apostolic Constitutions.

Briefly the contents of the document are: Questions of morality, the duty of studying the Scriptures and observance of the Seventh Commandment, mutual duties of husband and wife, offices and duties of Christian ministers; the duties of widows; the method of baptism, laymen not to baptize; vows of virginity; the duties of the faithful towards the martyrs; observance of Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy week and method of calculating the date of Easter; warning against heresy; respect to be shown to the faithful departed; prayers to be used on specified and unspecified occasions.

“Glory be to the Almighty God,” Amen.
Source
A short history, faith and order of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church, published by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church Holy Synod, Addis Ababa 1983.
Edited by Aymero W and Joachim M., The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, published by the Ethiopian Orthodox mission, Addis Ababa 1970.
 



 
 
 
 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch and the rich heritage of the Ethiopian Church



In the Psalms we read that “Ethiopia will stretch out her hands to God (Psalm 68.31).” We see the beginning of this passage being fulfilled in the conversion story of the Ethiopian Eunuch.


We do not know much about the Christian presence in Ethiopia after the Eunuch returned there, but we do know that Christianity was firmly established there by the 3rd century CE and that Athanasius of Alexandria consecrated a bishop for Ethiopia in the early 4th Century. Along with Armenia, Ethiopia was one of the first countries to become a Christian state, and the Ethiopian Church to this day maintains a rich and vibrant Christian heritage.


The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is one of the oldest Christian Churches in the world, and maintains ancient Catholic Orthodoxy, and has it’s own traditions of liturgy and music. Ethiopian liturgical music features drumming and clapping and spirited singing.


The monks at Aksum, the ancient capital of Ethiopia, claim to have the Ark of the Covenant, which Solomon gave to Menelek his son. Menelek is his son through a union of Solomon with the Queen of Sheba.


The Ethiopian Church has the longest canon of Scripture, containing not only the Deuterocanonical books found in Anglican, Orthodox, and Catholic Bibles, but several others, such as the Book of Enoch and Jubilees. 

The full name of the Ethiopian Church is the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. The term, Tewahedo, refers the single nature of the Person of Christ, which is both fully human and fully divine.

The Christian heritage of Ethiopia had it’s beginning in the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch.


The Five Pillars of  The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
 The Five Pillars of Ethiopian Orthodoxy represent an essentialist, Catholic Orthodoxy. In this sense it is very wise, and is a touchstone for true Christianity:

  1. Mystery of Trinity
  2. Mystery of Incarnation
  3. Mystery of Baptism
  4. Mystery of Communion
  5. Mystery of Resurrection

The Conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch, from the Acts of the Apostles

Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, "Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." This is desert.
27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship,
28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet.
29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go near and overtake this chariot."
30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?"
31 And he said, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.
32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this: "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth.
33 In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth."
34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, "I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?"
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.
36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?"
37 Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."
38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.
39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.
40 But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.


- Acts 8.26-40 NKJV




Bob Marley's Conversion to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

Bob Marley's baptismal name was Berhane Selassie, "Light of the Holy Trinity;" his final words were "Jesus, take me." 

I have much admiration for both the Rastafarians and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Bob Marley was both, and converted to Christianity in 1980. Most people don't know that Bob Marley, one of my favorite musical artists and a true prophet, converted to Christianity in 1980. On November 4th, 1980 he was received into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Abuna Yesehaq, archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the Western Hemisphere who died in 2005, admitted that he baptized Bob Marley about one year before his death.

The Jamaicans.com website says that Bob remained outside the church for several years after Rita and the children converted in 1972. Bob was under the spiritual guidance of the archbishop but was baptized just a year before his death, after three aborted attempts to convert in Kingston. He backed out each time, says the Archbishop, after being threatened by other rastas. Marley was finally baptised in the Ethiopian Church in New York where less resentments were less inflamed. The Archbishop christened him Berhane Selassie, which is Coptic for "Light of the Holy Trinity".

"Bob was really a good brother, a child of God, regardless of how people looked at him," Yesehaq said. "He had a desire to be baptized long ago, but there were people close to him who controlled him and who were aligned to a different aspect of Rastafari. But he came to church regularly."

"When he toured Los Angeles and New York and England, he preached the Orthodox faith, and many members in those cities came to the Church because of Bob," Yesehaq said.

Yesehaq told interviewer Barbara Blake Hannah: "I remember once while I was conducting the Mass, I looked at Bob and tears were streaming down his face. Many people think he was baptised because he knew he was dying, but that is not so... he did it when there was no longer any pressure on him, and when he was baptised, he hugged his family and wept. They all wept together for about an hour."

Bob Marley's final words were "Jesus, take me."

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Sources:

Bob Marley Died a Christian

Bob Marley knew Jesus 

Side Eye Post of The Day: Bob Marley knew Jesus - The Old Black Church


Interview with Bob Marley's Bishop, Bishop Yesehaq  

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Dives and Lazarus- Luke 16.91-31, a Midrash on Proverbs 21.13

"Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard..." - Proverbs 21.13 NKJV


The reading for today in the Orthodox and Byzantine Churches is from the Gospel of Luke chapter 16. It describes the plight of a man who ignores the cries of the poor, and experiences a dramatic reversal of fortunes. In order to prosper from this word today, we need to see ourselves as the rich man, and repent. - Lance

The reading-  Luke 16.19-31 NKJV: 

19 "There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.
20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate,
21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.
23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.'
25 But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.
26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.'
27 Then he said, 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house,
28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.'
29 Abraham said to him, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.'
30 And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'
31 But he said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.' "

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Today, in the Byzantine Churches, the Gospel reading is from Luke 16.19-31. I have the passage posted below. This is the story of the rich man and poor beggar, Lazarus. Although the parable in the Gospel does not name the rich man, he has been traditionally named, "Dives."

This is a story of reversal of fortunes. The beggar Lazarus is at the rich man's gate everyday, hoping from crumbs from the rich man's table. But the rich man ignores him, and Lazaraus starves to death. Later, the rich man dies, and finds himself in torment in Hades.

I once heard an Orthodox Priest, Fr. Hans Jacobse, comment on this passage, that it is read shortly before Advent, at a time we are expecting the coming of Christ. For this parable is indeed another version of the Last Judgment, as Christ told in Matthew 25.31-46 in the parable of the Sheep and Goats.

Fr. Marc Boulos, in his podcast this week, remarks that we must be careful that we see ourselves in the rich man, that we are the oppressor, we are the rich man, we are the one who ignores the plight of the poor and the oppressed.

In Orthodox spirituality, we start with ourselves.

One very serious object lesson in this passage is point out by Fr. Marc, and also, in the commentary of the Orthodox Study Bible, is that we must not say "no" to the word of God. Notice that Dives asks Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers still living about this torment in Hades. Abraham says, "they have Moses and the Prophets," essentially, the Hebrew Bible. But Dives says  'No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'.. But father Abraham stops him right there-  'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.' Dives says "No" to the Word of God. He and his brothers, as sons of Israel have the Hebrew Bible. The message of justice and charity is clear in the written Word.

We too, have the written word in the Sacred Scriptures. Paul writes to Timothy, that we have the scriptures, which are able to make us "wise unto salvation (2 Timothy 3.15-17)." Just as Dives and his brothers are accountable to the written Word, so are we. Jesus warns us that "the word that I have spoken will judge [us] in the last day (John 12.48)."

And this includes the Hebrew Scriptures. Jesus tells us in John chapter 5, "Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words (John 5.45-47 NKJV)?"

We ignore the Word of God at our own peril. The Word has told us how we must respond to the least of these. The written word of God is replete with calls to respond to the poor and needy among us.

In the Wisdom of Jesus, Ben Sirach, we taught importance of listening to the plea of the poor and treating them with respect:

Water extinguishes a blazing fire:
so almsgiving atones for sin.
[31] Whoever requites favors gives thought to the future;
at the moment of his falling he will find support.
[1] My son, deprive not the poor of his living,
and do not keep needy eyes waiting.
[2] Do not grieve the one who is hungry,
nor anger a man in want.
[3] Do not add to the troubles of an angry mind,
nor delay your gift to a beggar.
[4] Do not reject an afflicted suppliant,
nor turn your face away from the poor.
[5] Do not avert your eye from the needy,
nor give a man occasion to curse you;
[6] for if in bitterness of soul he calls down a curse upon you,
his Creator will hear his prayer.
[7] Make yourself beloved in the congregation;
bow your head low to a great man.
[8] Incline your ear to the poor,
and answer him peaceably and gently.
[9] Deliver him who is wronged from the hand of the wrongdoer;
and do not be fainthearted in judging a case.
[10] Be like a father to orphans,
and instead of a husband to their mother;
you will then be like a son of the Most High,
and he will love you more than does your mother.


- Sirach 3.30-4.10 RSV

In this passage in Sirach, we taught to respond to the poor graciously, to treat those are in need with respect. There is no call to disparage them.

In America, we are definitely the rich man, or Dives. We have the prosperity Gospel, where we equate material wealth with God's blessings. But Jesus in his parable today, overturns that heretical and false notion.

We have Christians that follow Ayn Rand and her selfish, objectivist philosophy, or other philosophies that are similar. I am sorry, but I cannot see how one can try to have an ethos of giving in their private life, but to be against any public assistance of social support. How can you believe in selflessness in one realm and support selfishness, greed, and lack of mercy in the public realm? It is philosophically inconsistent, and completely unbiblical. Over the years I have almost soured on Christianity in this country seeing the insensitive comments that some Christians make about the poor, and their hostility toward government welfare programs. A country as rich as the United States still is will be guilty of a great sin in ignoring those among us who struggle with poverty or hunger.

But that door swings both ways, one cannot be a liberal and rely only on government redistribution to help the poor. You can pay your taxes, and still go to hell, if you do not practice charity and justice in your own life. If we preach charity and social justice to others, we must practice it in our own lives, as we are able. And we must respect those who are poor, and not just pity them.

We Americans look down on the poor, even though many of us are just a pay check away from losing everything. A loss of job or poor health can cause us to lose our home or our middle class life style.

But with the twin heresies of the prosperity Gospel and selfish political philosophies, we look down on the poor. We say that those who are poor have made bad choices, and can rise above poverty through ambition. We believe the bullshit myth, which has no anchor in reality, that anyone can become rich in this country. Again, hear the Word of God:

"He who laughs at the poor provokes the One who made him, and he who rejoices in destruction will not go unpunished." - Proverbs 17.5, St. Athanasius Academy Septuagint.

Notice that Dives STILL, even while suffering torment in Hades, still wants the poor man Lazarus, to be his servant- 'send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.'  And, 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.'

Americans need to know this verse: "Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard..." - Proverbs 21.13. The parable of Dives and Lazarus is a perfect picture, a Midrash if you will,  of this verse.

One of the great takeaways from this passage is the dramatic reversal of fortunes that the poor and rich will experience:  But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. This fits well with Jesus's teaching in Luke 6.20-26, where He calls the poor (not spiritually poor in Luke) blessed, and pronounces a "woe" to the rich.

Both the liberal and conservative are confronted with the Word of God, and it will be the judge of all of us on that Day. The Lord Himself teaches us that on that last day, he will judge THE NATIONS (Matthew 25.31,32)

Save by the Blood: Haile Selassie on being Saved by Jesus Alone




“I know I am saved , not by anything that is of character or work of the human heart, but by the blood of Jesus alone.” (African Challenge Magazine, Nov 1960) His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie the 1st, the Last King of Kings of Ethiopia. 


Bishop Michael Curry, first African-American Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, installed today

Today, the Episcopal Church installed its first African-American as Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry.Bishop Curry is a gifted preacher and offers a message that is both Christ-centered and inclusive. Bishop Curry is author of the book, Crazy Christians, which teaches that our commitment to Christ can change the world.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Saint Maryam the Virgin, the Ark of the Covenant

Maryam is Zion, she is the Ark of the Covenant, the dwelling place of the Most High. "the Logos pitched His tent and dwelt among us..." - John 1.14. This is a traditional and mystical understanding of the Mother of God in the Eastern Church, as the Incarnation was accomplished through Maryam. The Ethiopian Church, in her prayers, confesses that "the Virgin Maryam...is Zion for ever and ever. Amen."

The reading from Hebrew 9, as assigned in the Greek Church for the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God, refers to the Ark of the Covenant: 

Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people's sins committed in ignorance...

- Hebrews 9.7 NKJV

Saint Maryam, the Virgin, the Ark of the Covenant

Maryam is Zion, she is the Ark of the Covenant, the dwelling place of the Most High. "the Logos pitched His tent and dwelt among us..." - John 1.14. This is a traditional and mystical understanding of the Mother of God in the Eastern Church, as the Incarnation was accomplished through Maryam. The Ethiopian Church, in her prayers, confesses that "the Virgin Maryam...is Zion for ever and ever. Amen."

The reading from Hebrew 9, as assigned in the Greek Church for the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God, refers to the Ark of the Covenant: 

Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people's sins committed in ignorance...

- Hebrews 9.7 NKJV

Monday, October 26, 2015

Christianity's Eastern history has been forgotten- and today’s Eastern Christians are in Danger


Below is a link to an article by former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, about the forgotten history of Eastern Christianity, and the current peril of Christians in Western Asia.

Eastern Christianity (Assyrian, Armenian, Syrian, Coptic, East African, Indian) at one time was just as populous and influential as Western Christianity (both Roman Catholic & Byzantine Orthodox). Many Christians spoke in Arabic. There were Christian communities as far East as China. Many of these Christians were wiped out by war lords like Tamerlane. And now, Christians in Western Asia are threatened with extinction by ISIL.

Read the article here:
How Christianity's Eastern history has been forgotten

Christianity's Eastern history has been forgotten- and today’s Eastern Christians are in Danger


Below is a link to an article by former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, about the forgotten history of Eastern Christianity, and the current peril of Christians in Western Asia.

Eastern Christianity (Assyrian, Armenian, Syrian, Coptic, East African, Indian) at one time was just as populous and influential as Western Christianity (both Roman Catholic & Byzantine Orthodox). Many Christians spoke in Arabic. There were Christian communities as far East as China. Many of these Christians were wiped out by war lords like Tamerlane. And now, Christians in Western Asia are threatened with extinction by ISIL.

Read the article here:
How Christianity's Eastern history has been forgotten

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Agpeya - Opening Prayers

I have been using the Coptic Agpeya for the Divine Office the last week. The same beginning prayers are used for each hour. Below I have posted a portion of those prayers. Notice the rich devotional character and trust in God in the prayers. There is also the language of spiritual warfare.

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Let us give thanks to the beneficent and merciful God, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, for He has covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto Him, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour. Let us also ask Him, the Lord our God, the Almighty, to guard us in all peace this holy day and all the days of our life.

O Master, Lord, God the Almighty, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, we thank You for every condition, concerning every condition, and in every condition, for You have covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto You, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour.
Therefore, we ask and entreat Your goodness, O Lover of mankind, to grant us to complete this holy day, and all the days of our life, in all peace with Your fear. All envy, all temptation, all the work of Satan, the counsel of wicked men, and the rising up of enemies, hidden and manifest, take them away from us, and from all Your people, and from this holy place that is Yours.

But those things which are good and profitable do provide for us; for it is You Who have given us the authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy.

  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, by the grace, compassion and love of mankind, of Your Only-Begotten Son, our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, through Whom the glory, the honor, the dominion, and the adoration are due unto You, with Him, and the Holy Spirit, the Life-Giver, Who is of one essence with You, now and at all times, and unto the ages of all ages. Amen.

The Agpeya - Opening Prayers

I have been using the Coptic Agpeya for the Divine Office the last week. The same beginning prayers are used for each hour. Below I have posted a portion of those prayers. Notice the rich devotional character and trust in God in the prayers. There is also the language of spiritual warfare.

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Let us give thanks to the beneficent and merciful God, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, for He has covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto Him, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour. Let us also ask Him, the Lord our God, the Almighty, to guard us in all peace this holy day and all the days of our life.

O Master, Lord, God the Almighty, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, we thank You for every condition, concerning every condition, and in every condition, for You have covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto You, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour.
Therefore, we ask and entreat Your goodness, O Lover of mankind, to grant us to complete this holy day, and all the days of our life, in all peace with Your fear. All envy, all temptation, all the work of Satan, the counsel of wicked men, and the rising up of enemies, hidden and manifest, take them away from us, and from all Your people, and from this holy place that is Yours.

But those things which are good and profitable do provide for us; for it is You Who have given us the authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy.

  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, by the grace, compassion and love of mankind, of Your Only-Begotten Son, our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, through Whom the glory, the honor, the dominion, and the adoration are due unto You, with Him, and the Holy Spirit, the Life-Giver, Who is of one essence with You, now and at all times, and unto the ages of all ages. Amen.

The Agpeya- Opening Prayers

I have been using the Coptic Agpeya for the Divine Office the last week. The same beginning prayers are used for each hour. Below I have posted a portion of those prayers. Notice the rich devotional character and trust in God in the prayers. There is also the language of spiritual warfare.

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Let us give thanks to the beneficent and merciful God, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, for He has covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto Him, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour. Let us also ask Him, the Lord our God, the Almighty, to guard us in all peace this holy day and all the days of our life.

O Master, Lord, God the Almighty, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, we thank You for every condition, concerning every condition, and in every condition, for You have covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto You, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour.
Therefore, we ask and entreat Your goodness, O Lover of mankind, to grant us to complete this holy day, and all the days of our life, in all peace with Your fear. All envy, all temptation, all the work of Satan, the counsel of wicked men, and the rising up of enemies, hidden and manifest, take them away from us, and from all Your people, and from this holy place that is Yours.

But those things which are good and profitable do provide for us; for it is You Who have given us the authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy.

  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, by the grace, compassion and love of mankind, of Your Only-Begotten Son, our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, through Whom the glory, the honor, the dominion, and the adoration are due unto You, with Him, and the Holy Spirit, the Life-Giver, Who is of one essence with You, now and at all times, and unto the ages of all ages. Amen.

Saint James of Jerusalem October 23 (St. James, the Brother of God)

Today is the commemoration of Saint James the Just, the brother of Jesus, the first bishop of Jerusalem. In the Eastern Church, he is called the Brother of God. Because the early Church fathers believed that Mary maintained her virginity after Jesus was born, James was considered either a step brother of Jesus (Eastern Church), or a cousin (Western Church). However, most Protestant scholars and even many Catholic Bible scholars today consider that James is the sibling of Jesus, also a son of Mary  (see today's Gospel, Matthew 13.54-58).

Ancient Christian writers say that James was not only Bishop of Jerusalem, but that he functioned as a high priest, and that he entered the Holy of Holies in the Temple. That he was a holy, prayerful man, and leader in the Church of Jerusalem, is attested to by Jerome (citing the ancient Church historian Heggesipius):

“After the apostles, James the brother of the Lord surnamed the Just was made head of the Church at Jerusalem. Many indeed are called James. This one was holy from his mother's womb. He drank neither wine nor strong drink, ate no flesh, never shaved or anointed himself with ointment or bathed. He alone had the privilege of entering the Holy of Holies, since indeed he did not use woolen vestments but linen and went alone into the temple and prayed in behalf of the people, insomuch that his knees were reputed to have acquired the hardness of camels' knees.”

Ancient Christian writers and Josephus witness to Jame’s martyrdom:

[The scribes and Pharisees]... threw down the just man... [and] began to stone him: for he was not killed by the fall; but he turned, and kneeled down, and said: "I beseech thee, Lord God our Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."And, while they were there, stoning him to death, one of the priests, the sons of Rechab, the son of Rechabim, to whom testimony is borne by Jeremiah the prophet, began to cry aloud, saying: “Cease, what do ye? The just man is praying for us." But one among them, one of the fullers, took the staff with which he was accustomed to wring out the garments he dyed, and hurled it at the head of the just man. And so he suffered martyrdom; and they buried him on the spot, and the pillar erected to his memory still remains, close by the temple. This man was a true witness to both Jews and Greeks that Jesus is the Christ.

Fragments from the Acts of the Church; Concerning the Martyrdom of James, the Brother of the Lord, from Book 5


The Epistle of James is traditionally attributed to James, and contains the famous passage "So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead (James 2.17, NRSV)."

The Epistle of James enjoins good works, and calls for social justice. James teaches in his epistle to treat the poor with respect (2.1-7), and condemns oppression by the rich (5.1-6). The style of the letter is reminiscent of Jewish wisdom literature.


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Collect and Readings for St. James


Collect for Saint James of Jerusalem    October 23
Grant, we beseech thee, O God, that after the example of thy
 servant James the Just, brother of our Lord, thy Church may
 give itself continually to prayer and to the reconciliation of
 all who are at variance and enmity; through the same our
 Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the
 Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Psalm 1 The Two Ways
 Happy are those
   who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
   or sit in the seat of scoffers;
 but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
   and on his law they meditate day and night.
 They are like trees
   planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
   and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.

 The wicked are not so,
   but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement,
   nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
 for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
   but the way of the wicked will perish.

Acts 15.13-22a
After they finished speaking, James replied, ‘My brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first looked favourably on the Gentiles, to take from among them a people for his name. This agrees with the words of the prophets, as it is written,
 “After this I will return,
and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen;
   from its ruins I will rebuild it,
     and I will set it up,
 so that all other peoples may seek the Lord—
   even all the Gentiles over whom my name has been called.
     Thus says the Lord, who has been making these things known from long ago.”
Therefore I have reached the decision that we should not trouble those Gentiles who are turning to God, but we should write to them to abstain only from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood. For in every city, for generations past, Moses has had those who proclaim him, for he has been read aloud every Sabbath in the synagogues.’
 Then the apostles and the elders, with the consent of the whole church, decided to choose men from among their members and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.

1 Corinthians 15.1-11 The Resurrection of Christ
Now I should remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.
 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

Matthew 13.54-58 The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth
 He came to his home town and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?’ And they took offence at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour except in their own country and in their own house.’ And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.