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."

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

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.' "

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

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.