Friday, September 18, 2015

Bob Marley and the Rastas speak the language of Zion

Bob Marley and the Rastas speak the language of Zion, not of Athens...Rastafarianism is a Black Liberation theology. Jah Love protects us!

Using Prayer Beads for the Jesus Prayer and Trisagion

My prayer beads- got them at a Tibetan Buddhist store. I use them to pray the Jesus Prayer. The version I use is from the Way of the Pilgrim, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me." On the two large beads, I pray the Trisagion:

"Holy God,
Holy Mighty One,
Holy Immortal One,
Who wast crucified for us,
Have mercy upon us."

I use the Oriental Orthodox version because I am a Miaphysite in my Christology.

I like having the Jesus Prayer and Trisagion both because one says, "have mercy on me," and the other says, "have mercy on us," I want to pray for all of humanity.

The Jesus Prayer has an affinity with mantras, but it is a prayer to a personal God, a prayer seeking the Presence of Christ. "Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek (Psalm 27.8)."

This is a prayer habit anyone can have, no matter how busy you are.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Rich Heritage of African Christianity

African and African-American Christians have a rich, diverse Christian heritage.

St. Luke specifically mentions that there were pilgrims from Africa- from Egypt and Libya- present on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit gave birth to the Church.

We read of the Ethiopian Eunuch, a minister of Candace, the Queen of Ethiopia, accepting Christ through the witness of Philip in Acts Chapter eight.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is one of the oldest national Churches in Christendom. Athanasius consecrated her first bishops. Emperor Haile Selassie, who claimed to be ancestor of King David, was a devout Orthodox Christian, and sent an Orthodox Bishop to Jamaica to evangelize the people there. Bob Marley, the great reggae star, Rastafarian, and prophetic voice, was Baptized in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, died in its bosom, with the Name of Jesus on his lips. His Baptismal name was Berhane Sellasie, Light of the Holy Trinity.
 St. Mark the Evangelist was the first Bishop in Alexandria, and a martyr there.  Some of the greatest  Church Fathers in the ancient Church are from Africa- Tertullian; Clement of Alexandria; the greatest scholar of the ancient church, Origen; Athanasius, the defender of Orthodoxy at Nicea; Cyprian, bishop and martyr; Augustine of Hippo, one of the two greatest doctors of the Church; Cyril of Alexandria, the defender of Orthodoxy at the council of Ephesus.

There are great female and male martyr-heroes in the Ancient African Church, most notable being Perpetua and Felicity. Saints Perpetua and Felicity are Christian martyrs of the 3rd century from Africa. Perpetua (born around 181) was a 22-year old married noblewoman and a nursing mother. Her co-martyr Felicity, an expectant mother, was her slave. Her family pleaded with her to renounce Christ and avoid being put to death, but she wouldn’t, and the two young Christian women were fed to the lions. They suffered together at Carthage in the Roman province of Africa, during the reign of Septimius Severus, about 203 CE.

Two of the greatest heroes of ancient orthodoxy are from Africa. Athanasius of Alexandria prevailed at the Nicene Council in 325, and Cyril of Alexandria presided over the council of Ephesus in 431 CE.  These councils provided dogmatic definition for how we understand the Person of Christ today. The very canon of Scripture as we have it now was codified in Africa, in ancient church synods at Carthage and Hippo in the late 4th and early 5th centuries.
The ancestors of most African-Americans came in bondage to this country; yet they put their faith in the Lord. They composed spirituals, and took the Exodus as their narrative, a narrative of Liberation. The Church operated as a base for the civil rights struggle the last two centuries, and gave us Martin Luther King Jr. African-Americans suffered centuries of oppression and persecution, by fellow or professing Christians, and they were sustained by their faith in Christ in the Church.

American and European missionaries came to Africa, to evangelize “the savages,” and the missionary enterprise went hand-in-hand with imperialism; yet Christianity took root in Africa, and now has grown to the point where the future of Christianity lies in Africa, not the West. The Anglicans, Pentecostals, and Evangelicals are some of the largest and fastest growing Churches in Africa. The Anglican Church in Africa has produced Bishop Desmond Tutu, who is a prophetic voice for our time, and who led the non-violent opposition to Apartheid.

There is a wonderful African-Christian heritage, from the Ethiopian Eunuch to Martin Luther King Jr. and Desmond Tutu.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Recommended Bible Translation: The Third Millennium Bible (New Authorized Version)

The Authorized Version of 1611 is possibly the most notable achievement in English Literature, and forms part of the back drop for the heritage of the English Language.

The New Authorized Version (NAV) of the Holy Bible, also known as the Third Millennium Bible (TMB), is a modestly updated edition of the 1611 King James Bible. The NAV updates only the most obscure words, but otherwise does not change the language of the venerable Authorized Version. It does not modernize the language as the New King James Version does. It simply makes the Authorized Version easier to read by eliminating words that are no longer used in everyday English, or correcting words that have a different meaning now than in 1611. Like the Authorized version, the New Testament is based on the Traditional Byzantine text.

The typeface is large, 12-pt type, easy to read in single column. This Bible is ecumenical; as the original Authorized Version does, it has the Apocrypha, and so includes the books used and read by the Orthodox, Catholic, and Anglican Churches. The quality of the actual binding is excellent, and the publisher offers a life time guarantee. I highly recommend the New Authorized Version, Third Millennium Bible.  It is now my work Bible, and my preferred version for devotions.

"…We most highly commend the Third Millennium Bible as a masterpiece of English literature and would further its study and use by the faithful of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tawahedo Church and by all congregations affiliated with the historic traditions of Ethiopian Christendom, the sole, authentically African Christianity."

- Princess Esther Sellassie Antohin, Chief Executive Officer, the Imperial House of Sellassie

Haile Selassie on the Holy Bible

WE IN ETHIOPIA HAVE ONE OF THE OLDEST VERSIONS OF THE BIBLE, but however old the version may be, in whatever language it might be written, the Word remains one and the same. It transcends all boundaries of empires and all conceptions of race. It is eternal.

No doubt you all remember reading in the Acts of the Apostles of how Philip baptised the Ethiopian official. He is the first Ethiopian on record to have followed Christ, and from that day onwards the Word of God has continued to grow in the hearts of Ethiopians. And I might say for myself that from early childhood I was taught to appreciate the Bible and my love for it increases with the passage of time. All through my troubles I have found it a cause of infinite comfort.

"Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matt. 11.28)" who can resist an invitation so full of compassion?

Because of this personal experience in the goodness of the Bible, I was resolved that all my countrymen should also share its great blessing and that by reading the Bible they should find truth for themselves. Therefore, I caused a new translation to be made from our ancient language into the language which the old and the young understood and spoke.

Today man sees all his hopes and aspirations crumbling before him. He is perplexed and knows not whither he is drifting. But he must realise that the Bible is his refuge, and the rallying point for all humanity. In it man will find the solution of his present difficulties and guidance for his future action, and unless he accepts with clear conscience the Bible and its great Message, he cannot hope for salvation. For my part I glory in the Bible.

-    H.I.M. Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Holy Wisdom

Holy Wisdom, from this Morning's First Reading at Mass:

"26 For she is the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of His goodness. 27 And, being but one, she can do all things; and, remaining in herself, she maketh all things new; and in all ages, entering into holy souls, she maketh them friends of God, and prophets. 28 For God loveth none but him that dwelleth with wisdom. 29 For she is more beautiful than the sun, and above all the order of stars; being compared with the light, she is found before it. 30 For after this cometh night, but vice shall not prevail against wisdom.

1 Wisdom reacheth from one end to another mightily, and sweetly doth she order all things."

- Wisdom of Solomon 7.26-8.1 TMB

Friday, September 4, 2015

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 any true Christianity:

  • The Mystery of the Holy Trinity
  • The Mystery of the Incarnation
  • The Mystery of Baptism
  • The Mystery of the Holy Communion
  • The Mystery of Resurrection

Bob Marley Lyrical Genius- Bob Marley and the Rastas speak the language of Zion

Bob Marley and the Rastas speak the language of Zion, not of Athens...Rastafarianism is a Black Liberation theology. Jah Love protects us!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Example of the Son of God by Haile Selassie

"With the birth of the Son of God, an unprecedented, an unrepeatable, and a long-anticipated phenomenon occurred. He was born in a stable instead of a palace, in a manger instead of a crib. The hearts of the Wise men were struck by fear and wonder due to His Majestic Humbleness. The kings prostrated themselves before Him and worshipped Him. 'Peace be to those who have good will. This became the first message.

When He sacrificed himself at Golgotha for the atonement of our sin, He prayed with His last breath for the forgiveness of those who had tortured Him saying, 'Father, forgive them for they know not what they do'. Shame on those of us who are Christians and do not follow the way of the Savior of the World, whose life was filled with kindness, humility, and martyrdom! If we lived by the laws he gave us and were worthy of being called Christian, peace would have reigned on this earth."

- Haile Selassie