Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Ephesus School Network for Orthodox Bible Teaching Podcasts


Deacon Enoch Elias (left) and Fr. March Boulos (right) of the Ephesus School Network

 This last year or so, my spirituality and commitment to Christ has been greatly enriched by the Ephesus School Network, which provides excellent Bible teaching podcasts. There are two programs offered by the Ephesus School- The Bible as Literature by Father Marc Boulos, a priest in the Orthodox Church of America, and his friend lay Bible Scholar Dr. Richard Benton, and The Tewahido Bible Study, by Deacon Enoch Elias of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

I listen to both podcast series every week. Right now, Fr. Marc and Richard are going through the Gospel of Mark, and Deacon Enoch is in the St. Paul's letter to the Romans.

I appreciate both of these teaching series. What they both have taught in the big picture is the centrality of the Teaching of God in Scripture, and the continuity of the Older and Newer Testaments. Both series underscore the importance of the Older Testament for believers in Eyesus Kristos. Both series challenge us to live according to Scripture and Torah, and not just profess Christ.

In the most recent broadcast this week of the Bible as Literature podcast teaches us that Jesus is not looking for fans, but obedience to the Word. He is Lord, he is not trying to win a popularity contest. Fr. Marc says in the broadcast that all we need is $10 and to buy the cheapest Bible at Barnes and Noble, and to obey the Word therein.

Deacon Enoch reminds us this week in his teaching on Romans 10 that when we read "all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10.13)," we have to bear in mind also Matthew 7, "not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father (Matthew 7.21)." Deacon Enoch also reminds us, this week, and in other podcasts, that we are citizens of the Kingdom of God first, and that nationalism is an idolatry.

I highly recommend both podcasts of the Ephesus School for sound Bible teaching from an Orthodox Christian perspective. There is no cheap grace offered in the broadcasts, but a call to costly discipleship and devotion to Torah (the Teaching) and the Word of God as revealed in Scripture. These teachers are providing us an unadulterated presentation of the Teaching for these momentous times.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

My Daily Rule of Prayer and Bible Reading Schedule

 Here is a simple Rule of Prayer I use daily, which I can always practice, even if I am short on time, and with a simple and manageable, but robust, Scripture reading plan.

MY DAILY RULE OF PRAYER

The Lord's Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.
The Kingdom come, Thy will be done,
In earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
As we forgive those in debt to us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from the evil one.
For Thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory,
Of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
One God, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages,
Amen.




The Angelic Salutation
Hail Mary, full of grace,
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
And blessed is the fruit of your womb,
Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Holy Virgin Saint Mary, O Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now, and at all times,
And at the hour of our death,
Amen.







The Symbol of Faith (the Creed)
We believe in One God,
The Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth,
Of all that is visible and invisible.

We believe in One Lord, Jesus Christ,
The only-begotten Son of God,
Begotten of the Father before all ages,
Light from Light,
True God from True God,
Begotten, not created,
Of One Essence with the Father,
Through Whom all things were made.

Who for us and our salvation,
Came down from heaven,
And was incarnate by
The Holy Spirit and Mary the Virgin,
And became man. 

For our sake, He was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
Suffered, died, and was buried,
And rose on the third day,
According to the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven,
And is enthroned at the right hand of
The Father.

He shall come again in glory,
And judge the living and the dead,
And of His Kingdom there shall be no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
The Lord, the Creator of Life,
Who proceeds from the Father,
Who together with the Father and Son
Is adored and glorified.
He has spoken through the prophets.

We believe in one, holy, universal, and apostolic Church,
We confess one Baptism for the remission of sins,
We await the resurrection of the dead,
And the life of the age to come,
Amen. 



Daily Scripture Reading
One Psalm,
One chapter from the Older Testament/Hebrew Scriptures

One chapter from the Newer Testament Acts, Epistles, or Apocalypse
One chapter from the Gospels.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

The TANAKH by the Jewish Publican Society

I recently obtained a copy of the TANAKH tonight, the Jewish Publication Society's translation of the Hebrew Bible.


One of my Facebook friends who is an Episcopal priest and Hebrew Bible scholar says it is one of the one or two best translations of the Older Testament. Another priest friend of mine said it was his preferred translation in seminary.


Notice Psalm 1 translates "Torah" as "Teaching" rather than "law," as in most Christian-sponsored translations.


As a Christian, I recognize that the Teaching is based in the Older Testament, and continues in the Newer Testament.

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"Let not this Book of the Teaching cease from your lips, but recite it day and night, so that you may observe faithfully all that is written in it. Only then will you prosper in your undertakings and only then will you be successful."

- Joshua 1.8 the JPS Tanakh

This translation really changes the way I think about this passage. Torah is teaching, not law here; we are enjoined to "recite," rather than "meditate" on the Teaching.



Sunday, October 9, 2016

Delight Yourself in YAH

We believe in the Lord, and pray to Him especially when we are in trouble. There is nothing wrong with that. But the Teaching in the Bible instructs us to "Take Delight in YAH (Ps. 37.5)," which we do when we seek Him and enjoy His Presence. YAH is always with us, we only have to acknowledge it. The Scriptural passage, "Taste and see that YAH is good (Psalm 34.8)," is often appropriately applied to Holy Communion. But the Psalmist surely was speaking of basking in the Presence of YAH.

Do not confuse taking delight in the YAH with taking delight in religion, dogma, or our church, or even the Bible (in and of itself). However, a big part of our relationship with YAH is learning and accepting the Teaching, which is contained in Holy Scripture. We should in fact immerse ourselves in Sacred Scripture.

I believe if we can try to know YAH this way, it will lighten our burdens. Instead of just praying to YAH when we are in trouble, we can enjoy YAH all the time. It will make our burden lighter. Surely this is what Y'shua means when He says, "take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and my burden light (Matthew 11.29-30)."

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Continuity between the Older and Newer Testament

[Eyesus] said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’” - Luke 16.31 RSV

I find this one of the most powerful and interesting verses in the Newer Testament. Eyesus says, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’ Here, Eyesus powerfully affirms the place of the Older Testament in the Teaching of the Church. The Older Testament still bears the revelation of God for the Christian, we still receive the Torah, the Instruction, from it. Eyesus Kristos teaches us in this passage the need to believe the Holy Scriptures for our salvation, and in this context, He is talking about the Older Testament in referring to  Moses (Torah) and the Prophets. 

One can see this continuity especially in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. In a December 2007 article in the Smithsonian, His Holiness Abuna Paulos, patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (+ 16 August 2012), stated, "We've had 1,000 years of Judaism, followed by 2,000 years of Christianity, and that's why our religion is rooted in the Old Testament...we follow the same dietary laws as Judaism, as set out in Leviticus [meaning that his followers keep kosher, even though they are Christians]... Parents circumcise their baby boys as a religious duty, we often give Old Testament names to our boys and many villagers in the countryside still hold Saturday sacred as the Sabbath."

Yet, there is also a disruption with the coming of the Messiah. There is also in Luke 16.31 a reference to His own resurrection. There is a continuity of the faith communities and Scriptures of the Older Testament with that of the Newer Testament.  In the words a my friend, Abba Gregory Ned Blevins, "In the Christ-event, there is both continuity with the past and radical disruption. In a word, 'sublation'."

Eyesus teaches elsewhere, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old." - Matthew 13.52 RSV.  The student of the Word of God believes on the Messiah for salvation, and receives instruction from both the Older and Newer Testament.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Native American View of the Holy Eucharist

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"When we celebrate Communion, our people [Native Americans] are very, very clear that Christ is present on the altar. More clear I think than white Episcopal and Lutheran churches. The power of Christ is present in body and blood and spirit."

- Native American Theologian George Tinker, in an interview with Sojourners Magazine, January 1991 issue

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Social Justice in the Bible

We are each responsible for our own sins. We have a free will. This passage in Ezekiel 18 also highlights the importance of social justice, for which we all bear personal responsibility. Some Christians think that Biblical morality is only about sexual matters, it is not; this passage mentions adultery but also issue of social justice, oppression, debts and the treatment of the vulnerable. We ignore much of the social message in the Scriptures in this country. And of course, this passage speaks of idolatry too, which is when we value anyone or anything above the Lord our God.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Perennial Philosophy: Aldous Huxley's Introduction to the Bhagavad Gita

Introduction to the Bhagavad-Gita (Translation of Bhagavad-Gita by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood.) by Aldous Huxely.


More than twenty-five centuries have passed since that which has been called the Perennial Philosophy was first committed to writing; and in the course of those centuries it has found expression, now partial, now complete, now in this form, now in that, again and again. In Vedanta and Hebrew prophecy, in the Tao Teh King and the Platonic dialogues, in the Gospel according to St. John and Mahayana theology, in Plotinus and the Areopagite, among the Persian Sufis and the Christian mystics of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance--the Perennial Philosophy has spoken almost all the languages of Asia and Europe and has made use of the terminology and traditions of every one of the higher religions. But under all this confusion of tongues and myths, of local histories and particularist doctrines, there remains a Highest Common Factor, which is the Perennial Philosophy in what may be called its chemically pure state. This final purity can never, of course, be expressed by any verbal statement of the philosophy, however undogmatic that statement may be, however deliberately syncretistic. The very fact that it is set down at a certain time by a certain writer, using this or that language, automatically imposes a certain sociological and personal bias on the doctrines so formulated. It is only the act of contemplation when words and even personality are transcended, that the pure state of the Perennial Philosophy can actually be known. The records left by those who have known it in this way make it abundantly clear that all of them, whether Hindu, Buddhist, Hebrew, Taoist, Christian, or Mohammedan, were attempting to describe the same essentially indescribable Fact.

The original scriptures of most religions are poetical and unsystematic. Theology, which generally takes the form of a reasoned commentary on the parables and aphorisms of the scriptures, tends to make its appearance at a later stage of religious history. The Bhagavad-Gita occupies an intermediate position between scripture and theology; for it combines the poetical qualities of the first with the clear-cut methodicalness of the second. The book may be described, writes Ananda K. Coomaraswamy in his admirable Hinduism and Buddhism, “as a compendium of the whole Vedic doctrine to be found in the earlier Vedas, Brahmanas and Upanishads, and being therefore the basis of all the later developments, it can be regarded as the focus of all Indian religion” is also one of the clearest and most comprehensive summaries of the Perennial Philosophy ever to have been made. Hence its enduring value, not only for Indians, but for all mankind.

At the core of the Perennial Philosophy we find four fundamental doctrines.

First: the phenomenal world of matter and of individualized consciousness--the world of things and animals and men and even gods--is the manifestation of a Divine Ground within which all partial realities have their being, and apart from which they would be non-existent.
Second: human beings are capable not merely of knowing about the Divine Ground by inference; they can also realize its existence by a direct intuition, superior to discursive reasoning. This immediate knowledge unites the knower with that which is known.
Third: man possesses a double nature, a phenomenal ego and an eternal Self, which is the inner man, the spirit, the spark of divinity within the soul. It is possible for a man, if he so desires, to identify himself with the spirit and therefore with the Divine Ground, which is of the same or like nature with the spirit.

Fourth: man’s life on earth has only one end and purpose: to identify himself with his eternal Self and so to come to unitive knowledge of the Divine Ground.

In Hinduism the first of these four doctrines is stated in the most categorical terms. The Divine Ground is Brahman, whose creative, sustaining and transforming aspects are manifested the Hindu trinity. A hierarchy of manifestations connects inanimate matter with man, gods, High Gods, and the undifferentiated Godhead beyond.

In Mahayana Buddhism the Divine Ground is called Mind or the Pure Light of the Void, the place of the High Gods is taken by the Dhyani-Buddhas.

Similar conceptions are perfectly compatible with Christianity and have in fact been entertained, explicitly or implicitly, by many Catholic and Protestant mystics, when formulating a philosophy to fit facts observed by super-rational intuition. Thus, for Eckhart and Ruysbroeck, there is an Abyss of Godhead underlying the Trinity, just as Brahman underlies Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Suso has even left a diagrammatic picture of the relations subsisting between Godhead, triune God and creatures. In this very curious and interesting drawing a chain of manifestation connects the mysterious symbol of the Divine Ground with the three Persons of the Trinity, and the Trinity in turn is connected in a descending scale with angels and human beings. These last, as the drawing vividly shows, may make one of two choices. They can either live the life of the outer man, the life of the separative selfhood; in which case they are lost (for, in the words of the Theologia Germanica, “nothing burns in hell but the self”). Or else they can identify themselves with the inner man, in which case it becomes possible for them, as Suso shows, to ascend again, through unitive knowledge, to the Trinity and even, beyond the Trinity, to the ultimate Unity of the Divine Ground.

Within the Mohammedan tradition such a rationalization of the immediate mystical experience would have been dangerously unorthodox. Nevertheless, one has the impression, while reading certain Sufi texts, that their authors did in fact conceive of al haqq, the Real, as being the Divine Ground or Unity of Allah, underlying the active and personal aspects of the Godhead.
The second doctrine of the Perennial Philosophy--that it is possible to know the Divine Ground by a direct intuition higher than discursive reasoning--is to be found in all the great religions of the world. A philosopher who is content merely to know about the ultimate Reality--theoretically and by hearsay--is compared by Buddha to a herdsman of other men’s cows. Mohammed uses an even homelier barnyard metaphor. For him the philosopher who has not realized his metaphysics is just an ass bearing a load of books. Christian, Hindu, Taoist teachers wrote no less emphatically about the absurd pretensions of mere learning and analytic reasoning. In the words of the Anglican Prayer Book, our eternal life, now and hereafter, “stands in the knowledge of God”; and this knowledge is not discursive, but “of the heart,” a super-rational intuition, direct, synthetic and timeless.

The third doctrine of the Perennial Philosophy, that which affirms the double nature of man, if fundamental in all the higher religions. The unitive knowledge of the Divine Ground has, as its necessary condition, self-abnegation and charity. Only by means of self-abnegation and charity can we clear away the evil, folly and ignorance which constitute the thing we call our personality and prevent us from becoming aware of the spark of divinity illuminating the inner man. but the spark within is akin to the Divine Ground. By identifying ourselves with the first we can come to unitive knowledge of the second. These empirical facts of the spiritual life have been variously rationalized in terms of the theologies of the various religions. The Hindus categorically affirm that thou art That--that the indwelling Atman is the same as Brahman. For orthodox Christianity there is not an identity between the spark and God. union of the human spirit with God takes place--union so complete that the word deification is applied to it; but it is not the union of identical substances. According to Christian theology, the saint is “deified,” not because Atman is Brahman, but because God has assimilated the purified human spirit into the divine substance by an act of grace. Islamic theology seems to make a similar distinction. The Sufi, Mansur, was executed for giving to the words “union” and “deification” the literal meaning which they bear in the Hindu tradition. For our present purposes, however, the significant fact is that these words are actually used by Christians and Mohammedans to describe the empirical facts of metaphysical realization by means of direct, super-rational intuition.

in regard to man’s final end, all the higher religions are in complete agreement. The purpose of human life is the discovery of Truth, the unitive knowledge of the Godhead. The degree to which this unitive knowledge is achieved here on earth determines the degree to which it will be enjoyed in the posthumous state. Contemplation of truth is the end, action the means. In India, in China, in ancient Greece, in Christian Europe, this was regarded as the most obvious and axiomatic piece of orthodoxy. The invention of the steam engine produced a revolution, not merely in industrial techniques, but also much more significantly in philosophy. Because machines could be made progressively more and more efficient, Western man came to believe that men and societies would automatically register a corresponding moral and spiritual improvement. Attention and allegiance came to be paid, not to Eternity, but to the Utopian future. External circumstances came to be regarded as more important that states of mind about external circumstances, and the end of human life was held to be action, with contemplation as a means to that end. These false and historically, aberrant and heretical doctrines are now systematically taught in our schools and repeated, day in, day out, by those anonymous writers of advertising copy who, more than any other teachers, provide European and American adults with their current philosophy of life. And so effective has been the propaganda that even professing Christians accept the heresy unquestioningly and are quite unconscious of its complete incompatibility with their own or anybody else’s religion.

These four doctrines constitute the Perennial Philosophy in its minimal and basic form. A man who can practice what the Indians call Jnana yoga (the metaphysical discipline of discrimination between the real and teh apparent) asks for nothing more. This simple working hypothesis is enough for his purposes. But such discrimination is exceedingly difficult and can hardly be practiced, at any rate in the preliminary stages of the spiritual life, except by persons endowed with a particular kind of mental constitution. That is why most statements of the Perennial Philosophy have included another doctrine, affirming the existence of one or more human Incarnations of the Divine Ground, by whose mediation and grace the worshipper is helped to achieve his goal--that unitive knowledge of the Godhead, which is man’s eternal life and beatitude. The Bhagavad-Gita is one such statement. Here, Krishna is an Incarnation of the Divine Ground in human form. Similarly, in Christian and Buddhist theology, Jesus and Gotama are Incarnations of divinity. But whereas in Hinduism and Buddhism more than one Incarnation of the Godhead is possible (and is regarded as having in fact taken place), for Christians there has been and can be only one.

An Incarnation of the Godhead and, to a lesser degree, any theocentric saint, sage or prophet is a human being who knows Who he is and can therefore effectively remind other human beings of what htey have allowed themselves to forget: namely, that if they choose to become what potentially they already are, they too can be eternally united with the Divine Ground.
Worship of the Incarnation and contemplation of his attributes are for most men and women the best preparation for unitive knowledge of the Godhead. But whether the actual knowledge itself can be achieved by this means is another question. Many Catholic mystics have affirmed that, at a certain stage of that contemplative prayer in which, according to the most authoritative theologians, the life of Christian perfection ultimately consists, it is necessary to put aside all thought of the Incarnation as distracting from the higher knowledge of that which has been incarnated. From this fact have arisen misunderstandings in plenty and a number of intellectual difficulties. Here, for example, is what Abbot Josh Chapman writes in one of his admirable Spiritual Letters: “The problem of reconciling (not merely uniting) mysticism with Christianity is more difficult. The Abbot (Abbot Marmion) says that St. John of the Cross is like a sponge full of Christianity. You can squeeze it all out, and the full mystical theory remains. Consequently, for fifteen years or so, I hated St. John of the Cross and called him a Buddhist. I loved St. Teresa, and read her over and over again. She is first a Christian, only secondarily a mystic. Then I found that I had wasted fifteen years, so far as prayer was concerned.” And yet, he concludes, in spite of its “Buddhistic” character, the practice of mysticism (or, to put it in other terms, the realization of the Perennial Philosophy) makes good Christians. He might have added that it also makes good Hindus, good Buddhists, good Taoists, good Moslems and good Jews.
The solution to Abbot Chapman’s problem must be sought in the domain, not of philosophy, but of psychology. Human beings are not born identical. There are many different temperaments and constitutions; and within each psycho-physical class one can find people at very different stages of spiritual development. Forms of worship and spiritual discipline which may be valuable for one individual maybe useless or even positively harmful for another belonging to a different class and standing, within that class, at a lower or higher level of development. All this is clearly set forth in the Gita, where the psychological facts are linked up with general cosmology by means of the postulate of the gunas. Krishna, who is here the mouth-piece of Hinduism in all its manifestations, finds it perfectly natural that different men should have different methods and even apparently differently objects of worship. All roads lead to Rome--provided, of course, that it is Rome and not some other city which the traveler really wishes to reach. A similar attitude of charitable inclusiveness, somewhat surprising in a Moslem, is beautifully expressed in the parable of Moses and the Shepherd, told by Jalauddin Rumi in the second book of the Masnavi. And within the more exclusive Christian tradition these problems of temperament and degree of development have been searchingly discussed in their relation to the way of Mary and the way of Martha in general, and in particular to the vocation and private devotion of individuals.
We now have to consider the ethical corollaries of the perennial Philosophy. “Truth,” says St. Thomas Aquinas, “is the last end for the entire universe, and the contemplation of truth is the chief occupation of wisdom.” The moral virtues, he says in another place, belong to contemplation, not indeed essentially, but as a necessary predisposition. Virtue, in other words, is not the end, but the indispensable means to the knowledge of the divine reality. Shankara, the greatest of the Indian commentators on the Gita, hold the same doctrine. Right action is the way to knowledge; for it purifies the mind, and it is only to a mind purifies from egotism that the intuition of the Divine Ground can come.

Self-abnegation, according to the Gita, can be achieved by the practice of two all-inclusive virtues--love and non-attachment. the latter is the same thing as that “holy indifference,” on which St. Francois de Sales is never tired of insisting. “He who refers every action to God,” writes Camus, summarizing his master’s teaching, “and has no aims save His Glory, will find rest everywhere, even amidst the most violent commotions.” So long as we practice this holy indifference to the fruits of action, “no lawful occupation will separate us from God; on the contrary, it can be made a means of closer union.” Here the word “lawful” supplies a necessary qualification to a teaching which, without it, is incomplete and even potentially dangerous. Some actions are intrinsically evil or inexpedient; and no good intentions, no conscious offering them to God, no renunciation of the fruits can alter their essential character. Holy indifference requires to be taught in conjunction not merely with a set of commandments prohibiting crimes, but also with a clear conception of what in Buddha’s Eightfold Path is called “right livelihood.” Thus, for the Buddhist, right livelihood was incompatible with the making of deadly weapons and of intoxicants; for the mediaeval Christian, with the taking of interest and with various monopolistic practices which have since come to be regarded as legitimate good business. John Woolman, the American Quaker, provides a most enlightening example of the way in which a man may live in the world, while practicing perfect non-attachment and remaining acutely sensitive to the claims of right livelihood. Thus, while it would have been profitable and perfectly lawful for him to see West Indian sugar and rum to the customers who came to his shop, Woolman refrained from doing so, because these things were the products of slave labor. Similarly, when he was in England, it would have been both lawful and convenient for him to travel by stage coach. Nevertheless, he preferred to make his journeys on foot. Why? Because the comforts of rapid travel could only be bought at the expense of great cruelty to the horses and the most atrocious working conditions for the post-boys. In Woolman’s eyes, such a system of transportation was intrinsically undesirable, and no amount of personal non-attachment could make it anything but undesirable. So he shouldered his knapsack and walked.
In the preceding pages I have tried to show that the Perennial Philosophy and its ethical corollaries constitute a Highest Common Factor, present in all the major religions of the world. To affirm this truth has never been more imperatively necessary than at the present time. There will never be enduring peace unless and until human beings come to accept a philosophy of life more adequate to the cosmic and psychological facts than the insane idolatries of nationalism and the advertising man’s apocalyptic faith in Progress towards a mechanized New Jerusalem. All the elements of this philosophy are present, as we have seen, in the traditional religions. But in existing circumstances there is not the slightest chance that any of the traditional religions will obtain universal acceptance. Europeans and Americans will see no reason for being converted to Hinduism, say, or Buddhism. And the people of Asia can hardly be expected to renounce their own traditions for the Christianity professed, often sincerely, by the imperialists who, for four hundred years and more, have been systematically attacking, exploiting, and oppressing, and are now trying to finish off the work of destruction by “educating” them. But happily there is the Highest Common Factor of all religions, the Perennial Philosophy which has always and everywhere been the metaphysical system of prophets, saints and sages. It is perfectly possible for people to remain good Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, or Moslems and yet to be united in full agreement on the basic doctrines of the Perennial Philosophy.

The Bhagavad-Gita is perhaps the most systematic scriptural statement of the Perennial Philosophy. to a world at war, a world that, because it lacks the intellectual and spiritual prerequisites to peace, can only hope to patch up some kind of precarious armed truce, it stands pointing, clearly and unmistakably, to the only road of escape from the self-imposed necessity of self-destruction. For this reason we should be grateful to Swami Prabhavananda and Mr. Isherwood for having given us this new version of the book--a version which can be read, not merely without that dull aesthetic pain inflicted by all too many English translations from the Sanskrit, but positively with enjoyment.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Universal Hope of God's Love

There is no terrorism in the Orthodox doctrine of God. Orthodox Christians do not cringe before Him in abject fear, but think of Him as philanthropos, the ‘lover of men.’ Yet they keep in mind that Christ at His Second Coming will come as judge.

Hell is not so much a place where God imprisons man, as a place where man, by misusing his free will, chooses to imprison himself. And even in Hell the wicked are not deprived of the love of God, but by their own choice they experience as suffering what the saints experience as joy. ‘The love of God will be an intolerable torment for those who have not acquired it within themselves’ (V. Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, p. 234).

Hell exists as a final possibility, but several of the Fathers have none the less believed that in the end all will be reconciled to God. It is heretical to say that all must be saved, for this is to deny free will; but it is legitimate to hope that all may be saved. Until the Last Day comes, we must not despair of anyone’s salvation, but must long and pray for the reconciliation of all without exception. No one must be excluded from our loving intercession. ‘What is a merciful heart?’ asked Isaac the Syrian. ‘It is a heart that burns with love for the whole of creation, for men, for the birds, for the beasts, for the demons, for all creatures’ (Mystic Treatises, edited by A. J. Wensinck, Amsterdam, 1923, p. 341). Gregory of Nyssa said that Christians may legitimately hope even for the redemption of the Devil.

- from Bishop Timothy Kallistos Ware's book, The Orthodox Church.


"I believe implicitly in the ultimate and complete triumph of God, the time when all things shall be subject to Him and when God will be everything to everyone (1 Cor 15:24-28). For me, this has certain consequences. If one man remains outside of the love of God at the end of time, it means that one man has defeated the love of God—and that is impossible. Further, there is only one way in which we can think of the triumph of our God. If God was no more than a King or judge, then it would be possible to speak of his triumph, if His enemies were agonizing in hell or were totally and completely obliterated and wiped out. But God is not only king and Judge, God is Father—He is indeed Father more than anything else. No father could be happy while there were members of his family for ever in agony. No father would count it a triumph to obliterate the disobedient members of his family. The only triumph a father can know is to have all of his family back home again."

–William Barclay

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Wisdom and Continuity of the Older and Newer Testaments

IN praising wisdom, the author of the Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach (the full title of the book) is pointing us back to Torah and the Prophets, for the Jewish people believed that the Torah and other writings were the expression of Wisdom in written form. It is clear that authors in the Newer Testament, such as Jacob (James, the Brother of our Lord) were well acquainted with the Book of Sirach, for although he does not quote it verbatim he alludes to it in his reference to the anger of man, patient endurance, and finding joy amid persecution. The Book of Sirach clearly manifests the Wisdom of the Lord, and belongs to the canonical writings, as recognized by the Eastern and Western Churches for centuries.

Unrighteous anger cannot be justified,
 for a man's anger tips the scale to his ruin.
 A patient man will endure until the right moment,
 and then joy will burst forth for him
.

- Sirach 1.22,23 RSV

Be steadfast in your understanding,
 and let your speech be consistent.
Be quick to hear,
 and be deliberate in answering.
If you have understanding, answer your neighbor;
 but if not, put your hand on your mouth.
Glory and dishonor come from speaking,
 and a man's tongue is his downfall...


- Sirach 5.10-13 RSV

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Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.


- James 1.2-4 RSV

for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.

- James 1.20 RSV

Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger...

- James 1.19 RSV



Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Messiah, a Person of Color

We do not value people of color. We get mad when we (white folk) hear that, but our actions and lack of empathy show that this is the case. Whether it is African-Americans or Native Americans being killed at traffic stops by law enforcement officers, or people in Africa or the so-called Middle East being killed by drones and proxy wars, we do not care. God cares, and we will have to answer. The Messiah is Afro-Asiatic. We will all, regardless of race, stand before Him on that Day.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Honoring the Christian Faith of Haile Selassie on the 124th Anniversary of His Birth

Blessed earthstrong to the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, King of Kings of Ethiopia, Elect of God, Defender of the faith. Today, 23 July, 2016, is the 124th Birthday of His Imperial Majesty. On our blog, we honor H.I.M. as "Defender of the Faith." The Emperor had a deep and abiding love for our Lord Eyesus Kristos, and for the Holy Scriptures. His Imperial Majesty demonstrates his Christian faith by 1) His Daily Practice 2) His deep and abiding faith 3) His love of Eyesus Kristos, our Lord and God, and desire to evangelize others 4) His devotion to the Holy Bible and it's message.


1) His Imperial Majesty did not just pay formal lip-service to the Christian Faith. He was a devout practicioner, who was very disciplined in his daily prayers and practices. On our sidebar (on the upper right side panel of our blog), we post the following tribute from an Anglo-Catholic priest:

"The late Emperor spent many hours daily in traditional Prayer Books of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. He would have been saturated with the Apostolic teaching and spirit. Bishop Paulos Mar Gregorios spent enough time at the great Emperor's court to observe these habits and wrote about them. I was surprised at the devotion of His Imperial Majesty, and I hope to achieve similar heights of spiritual life...."

2) The Emperor speaks of how his deep and abiding faith has sustained him:
"There are many instances in my life where the belief in The Almighty and the Christian Faith have sustained me, times of troubles and difficulties. No matter what may befall a human being he can always succeed in overcoming it in time if he has the strength of faith and praise to God, for inevitably He comes to the assistance of those that believe in him and those that through their work live an exemplary life."

3) His Imperial Majesty was devoted to our Lord Eyesus Kristos, and believed in evangelizing other of the Good News of Kristos:

“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.

“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.”

4) Finally, His Imperial Majesty was devoted to the Holy Bible and it's message:

"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?

 I have the highest respect for the Bible as a whole...We find that in all the periods of the Old Testament, in the time of Patriarchs, Kings, and Prophets, great miracles were done. On the other hand, the time in which Our Lord HIM-self gave the command to go to all the world and to preach is also of high value. Then, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,- the four gospels in which the sayings of our Lord are recorded- are pillars for all men on the earth. Therefore the Bible should not be cut into portions.

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."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Sources: Decision Magazine, Africa; the famous "Bible Speech" in H.I.M.'s address on literacy to the United Nations; and his interview with Dr. Oswald Hoffman, December 25, 1968, on the Lutheran Hour

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Archbishop of Canterbury honors H.I.M. and the Ethiopian Church

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip visit Ethiopia and H.I.M. in 1965


Anglicans over the last 100 years or so have had a very warm regard for the Eastern Churches, and besides seeking close ecumenical relations with them, they also invested a lot of scholarship in studying the Eastern Churches. This is the statement of the Archbishop of Canterbury upon the visit of Haile Selassie to Lambeth in 1924.

"But there has never before visited Lambeth anyone whose church stands in terms of antiquity, in first place among the Christians of the world. Your Highness, Your church has an ancient history of about 1600 years. Its beginnings approach the earlier period of the Apostle of Our Lord.”

 - the Most Reverend and Right Honorable Randall Davidson, Archbishop of Canterbury (+ 1930), on 11th July 1924.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bibles, Books, and Prayers of the Christian East


Bibles, Books and Prayers from the rich Christian East, provide so much spiritual treasure for me. Christianity is an Afro-Asiatic religion, the Bible is an Afro-Asiatic book, the Mashiach Yeshua was born into an Afro-Asiatic context.

Along with the Bible, the Kebra Nagast forms an important part of Ethiopia's sacred tradition. Also, the Ethiopian Bible has a the longest canon, 81 books. I do not have an English Bible, with the full Ethiopian canon, but I collecting individual books, such as the Book of Enoch.


In trying times like these, the Scriptures afford us hope (Romans 15.4). I am grateful for these editions of the Scriptures, well-translated and with fuller canons. This is a Black spiritual we sing in our church often that emphasizes the need to rely on Christ and the Scriptures.

 "In times like these you need the Bible,
 In times like these O be not idle;
 Be very sure, be very sure
 Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
 This Rock is Jesus, Yes, He's the One;
 This Rock is Jesus, the only One!
 Be very sure, be very sure
 Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!"

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Nelson Mandela on Haile Selassie


“His Imperial Majesty (Haile Selassie) himself a rich and unfailing fountain of wisdom, has been foremost in promoting the cause of Unity, Independence and Progress in Africa, as was amply demonstrated in the address he graciously delivered in opening this assembly.”

- Nelson Mandela; February 1962, Addis Ababa.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Our LORD Eyesus Kristos, Yehoshua, THE RIGHTEOUS MAN in the Wisdom of Solomon


Our LORD Eyesus Kristos, Yehoshua
Then the RIGHTEOUS MAN will stand with great confidence
in the presence of those who have afflicted him,
and those who make light of his labors.
[2] When they see him, they will be shaken with dreadful fear,
and they will be amazed at his unexpected salvation.
[3] They will speak to one another in repentance,
and in anguish of spirit they will groan, and say,
[4] "This is the man whom we once held in derision
and made a byword of reproach -- we fools!
We thought that his life was madness
and that his end was without honor.
[5] Why has he been numbered among the sons of God?
And why is his lot among the saints?
[6] So it was we who strayed from the way of truth,
and the light of righteousness did not shine on us,
and the sun did not rise upon us.
[7] We took our fill of the paths of lawlessness and destruction,
and we journeyed through trackless deserts,
but the way of the Lord we have not known.
[8] What has our arrogance profited us?
And what good has our boasted wealth brought us?
 
-          Wisdom of Solomon 5.1-8 RSV



1Why do the nations rage, And the peoples meditate a vain thing?
2The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against JAH, and against his anointed, [saying],
3Let us break their bonds asunder, And cast away their cords from us.
4He that sitteth in the heavens will laugh: The Lord will have them in derision.
5Then will he speak unto them in his wrath, And vex them in his sore displeasure:.
6Yet I have set my king Upon my holy hill of Zion.
7I will tell of the decree: JAH said unto me, Thou art my son; This day have I begotten thee.
8Ask of me, and I will give [thee] the nations for thine inheritance, And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
10Now therefore be wise, O ye kings: Be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
11Serve JAH with fear, And rejoice with trembling.
12Kiss the son, lest he be angry, and ye perish in the way, For his wrath will soon be kindled. Blessed are all they that take refuge in him.

-          Psalm 2 ASV

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Virgin Maryam Full of Grace


Emperor Haile Sellasie Venerated You O Holy Virgin.

Empress Menen of Ethiopia Venerated also You O Holy Virgin.

Even Angel Gabriel paid Homage to You O Holy Virgin and saith:

HAIL MARIAM FULL OF GRACE REJOICE, THOU ART THE MOST FAVOURED THE LORD IS WITH THEE; BLESSED IS THE FRUIT AND THE REWARD OF THY HOLY WOMB.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

God Communicates with those in misfortune

I think God communicates with those that find themselves in misfortune. The love of God brings a sense of religiousness in a human being, it gives him comfort for the future and assurance that right cause will ultimately prevail.

- His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie, December 25, 1968


JAH is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

- Psalm 34.18


For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares JAH, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

- Jeremiah 29.11

Friday, July 8, 2016

Theotokos, the Second Heaven


O Theotokos (Mother of God), the second heaven
You are the honoured Mother of the Light.

From sunrise to sunset
the faithful offer you praises
You are the bright and unchanging flower
and the mother who remained a virgin
for the Father chose you
and the Holy Spirit overshadowed you
and the Son deigned to take flesh from you.

Wherefore, ask the Lord
to give salvation to the world
which He created
and to deliver it from all tribulations.

Let us praise the Lord
and sing to Him a new song
now and forever and from all ages to all ages
Amen

Sunday, July 3, 2016

My First Allegiance on the 4th of July


I remember and honor the memory of my relatives who have died in the service of the nation.
However, I do not believe that it is was always for our freedom. I believe many of our exploits in war were to increase the American Hegemony in the world, and to enforce our will on other peoples.

Also, the original independence day was not a day of liberty for the native Americans or the African slaves, who only experienced oppression and genocide from this nation.

I do not find any godly or distinctly Christian age in the history of this nation.

Christians should pray for and honor our leaders, and obey the civil laws and pay our taxes, as Scripture enjoins.

But we serve a KING, Eyesus Kristos our God, Whose realm is not of this world. To HIM we owe our first allegiance. To put my nation on equal footing as my God, or to gloss over it's sins, is nothing but sheer idolatry.

And if it seem evil unto you to serve Jehovah, choose you this day whom ye will serve...but as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah.

- Joshua 24.15 ASV

Thursday, June 30, 2016

King Solomon Executes Justice

Makeda, the Queen of the Sheba (Queen of the South) visting Solomon
King Solomon, by the wisdom given  him by God, ruled with justice, and Psalm 72 is a song celebrating King Solomon's reign of justice. King Solomon looms large in the national narrative in Ethiopia. The Royal House of Selassie is a Solomonic Dynasty. The Queen of Ethiopia, Makeda (also known as the Queen of Sheba, the Queen of the South), visited Solomon to hear his wisdom. Haile Selassie is a direct descendent of their union.

Geevargehese Mar Osthathios, the late Archbishop of the Indian Orthodox Church, which is in communion with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, made Psalm 72 foundational Bible passage for his teaching on Biblical social justice.

Geevargehese Mar Osthathios  (+ 16 February 2012)

The Tewahedo faith proclaims a Biblical social justice message, because it proclaims God Incarnate, God and Man perfectly united in a single nature, who shared the suffering of the people. Torah teaches us that God was concerned about the suffering of his people (Exodus 3.7-8), and the Gospel of John says the Eyesus Kristos, the Word of God, "pitched His tent and dwelt among us (John 1.14)."  When our Lord Eyesus Kristos appeared, he was meek and gentle of heart. He is still meek. But the Psalms say He will one day rule with a rod of iron (Psalm 2). The Law (the Torah, the Instruction) will go forth from Zion. Our Lord Eyesus Kristos came in part to show us how to live the Instruction of God, the Holy Scriptures.

We pray in the Lord's prayer, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done." Solomon sought reign according to God's wisdom, which he sought before riches and honor. His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I worked to bring the word of God to his people and to the world. He stood for human rights, and for justice for the people of Africa against colonialism and fascism. We who seek to follow Christ must strive to live a just life, in the real world context, in imitation of our Lord Eyesus Kristos, and imitation of Solomon and His Imperial Majesty. Let us therefore, as Solomon, seek and pray for the Wisdom of God, which God will give without finding fault (James 1.5). The Book of Proverbs, written by Solomon, teach us that the Wisdom of God is in the Instruction, in the Torah. We become wise reading the Sacred Scripture and treasuring it as His Imperial Majesty did. We work for social justice, inspired by the Wisdom we receive from God and the Holy Scriptures.

His Imperial Majesty pours over the Scripture

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

Give the king thy justice, O God,
 and thy righteousness to the royal son!
   May he judge thy people with righteousness,
 and thy poor with justice!


- Psalm 72(71).1-2 RSV

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, "Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you." But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nin'eveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

- Matthew 12.38-43 RSV


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Visitation - Maryam, the Ark of God, Carries God Incarnate in Her Womb

 
In commemorating the visit of the Virgin Maryam to her kinswoman Elizabeth, we are reminded that our Lord Eyesus Kristos was God Incarnate even in the Virgin's womb. Elizabeth cries out, "And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? (Luke 1.43)." This is Scriptural support for the Dogma of the Theotokos, proclaimed in the 3rd Ecumenical Council (431. C.E.).  Eyesus Kristos is "Light from Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made, of one Essence with the Father." This is the Orthodox Tewahido Faith. Maryam represents the Ark of the Covenant. This symbolism is not only held by the Church Fathers, but emphasized in the Kebra Nagast, the Glory of Kings, the national narrative of Ethiopian Christianity.


[1] Praise the LORD!
 Praise, O servants of the LORD,
 praise the name of the LORD!
[2] Blessed be the name of the LORD
 from this time forth and for evermore!
[3] From the rising of the sun to its setting
 the name of the LORD is to be praised!
[4] The LORD is high above all nations,
 and his glory above the heavens!
[5] Who is like the LORD our God,
 who is seated on high,
[6] who looks far down
 upon the heavens and the earth?
[7] He raises the poor from the dust,
 and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
[8] to make them sit with princes,
 with the princes of his people.
[9] He gives the barren woman a home,
 making her the joyous mother of children.
 Praise the LORD!

- Psalm 113 RSV


Hannah also prayed and said,
"My heart exults in the LORD;
 my strength is exalted in the LORD.
 My mouth derides my enemies,
 because I rejoice in thy salvation.
[2] "There is none holy like the LORD,
 there is none besides thee;
 there is no rock like our God.
[3] Talk no more so very proudly,
 let not arrogance come from your mouth;
 for the LORD is a God of knowledge,
 and by him actions are weighed.
[4] The bows of the mighty are broken,
 but the feeble gird on strength.
[5] Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
 but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
 The barren has borne seven,
 but she who has many children is forlorn.
[6] The LORD kills and brings to life;
 he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
[7] The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
 he brings low, he also exalts.
[8] He raises up the poor from the dust;
 he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
 to make them sit with princes
 and inherit a seat of honor.
 For the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S,
 and on them he has set the world.
[9] "He will guard the feet of his faithful ones;
 but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;
 for not by might shall a man prevail.
[10] The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces;
 against them he will thunder in heaven.
 The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;
 he will give strength to his king,
 and exalt the power of his anointed."

- 1 Samuel 2.1-10 RSV

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good;
[10] love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
[11] Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord.
[12] Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
[13] Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.
[14]
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
[15] Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
[16] Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited.

- Romans 12.9-16 RSV

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah,
[40] and she entered the house of Zechari'ah and greeted Elizabeth.
[41] And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
[42] and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
[43] And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
[44] For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.
[45] And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."
[46] And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord,
[47] and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
[48] for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
 For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;
[49] for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
 and holy is his name.
[50] And his mercy is on those who fear him
 from generation to generation.
[51] He has shown strength with his arm,
 he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
[52] he has put down the mighty from their thrones,
 and exalted those of low degree;
[53] he has filled the hungry with good things,
 and the rich he has sent empty away.
[54] He has helped his servant Israel,
 in remembrance of his mercy,
[55] as he spoke to our fathers,
 to Abraham and to his posterity for ever."
[56] And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.

- Luke 1.39-56 RSV






Friday, May 27, 2016

Religion Must Guide Us

"To make our wills obedient to good influences and to avoid evil, therefore, is to show the greatest wisdom. In order to follow this aim one must be guided by religion. Progress without religion is just like a life surrounded by unknown perils and can be compared to a body without a soul. All human inventions, from the most primitive tool to the modern atom, can help man greatly in his peaceful endeavors. But if they are put to evil purposes they have the capacity to wipe out the human race from the surface of the earth. It is only when the human mind is guided by religion and morality that man can acquire the necessary vision to put all his ingenuous inventions and contrivances to really useful and beneficial purposes."

His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie, April 5, 1948

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Eyesus Kristos, the God of Ethiopia

"And this is life eternal, that they should know thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, even Eyesus Kristos."

John 17.3



Prince and princesses shall come out of Babylon
Ethiopians now stretch forth their hands unto God.
O Thou God of Ethiopia, Thy divine Majesty,
Thy Spirit has come into our hearts
To dwell in the paths of righteousness, lead us,
Help us to forgive that we may be forgiven;
Teach us love, loyalty on earth as it is in Zion.
Endow us with Thy wisdom,
Knowledge and overstanding to do Thy will.
Thy blessing to us, that hungry may be fed, the naked clothed,
The sick nourished, the aged protected and the infants cared for.
Deliver us from the hands of our enemies
That we may be fruitful in the last days
When our enemies are past and decayed:
In the depths of the sea, in the depths of the earth,
Or in the belly of the beast.
O give us all a place in Thy kingdom forever and ever.

Selah***

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Virgin Maryam's Protection from the Enemy


“We say to you, prostrating ourselves, Peace be unto you Mary our Mother.
 We beseech you; we cling unto you against the hunting serpent.

 Virgin, for the sake of your Mother Hanna and your Father Joachim, bless our congregation today”.

-from the Eritrean Orthodox Daily Prayers

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Abuna Yesehaq on the Apostolic Nature of the Ethiopian Church

 
"The teaching of the Ethiopian Church is founded on the Apostles’ experience of the Lord Iyesus Kristos as the Creator and Savior of the world and on the conviction that the Holy Spirit is in the church".

- His Eminence Abuna Yesehaq (The Ethiopian Tewahedo Church, p.101)
 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Coming of the Holy Ghost - Pentecost


24 O Jehovah, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: The earth is full of thy riches.
25 Yonder is the sea, great and wide, Wherein are things creeping innumerable, Both small and great beasts.
26 There go the ships; There is leviathan, whom thou hast formed to play therein.
27 These wait all for thee, That thou mayest give them their food in due season.
28 Thou givest unto them, they gather; Thou openest thy hand, they are satisfied with good.
29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled; Thou takest away their breath, they die, And return to their dust.
30 Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created; And thou renewest the face of the ground.
31 Let the glory of Jehovah endure for ever; Let Jehovah rejoice in his works:
32 Who looketh on the earth, and it trembleth; He toucheth the mountains, and they smoke.
33 I will sing unto Jehovah as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have any being.
34 Let thy meditation be sweet unto him: I will rejoice in Jehovah.
35 Let sinners be consumed out of the earth. And let the wicked be no more. Bless Jehovah, O my soul. Praise ye Jehovah.

- Psalm 104.24-35

1 And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one place.
2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat upon each one of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.
6 And when this sound was heard, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speaking in his own language.
7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying, Behold, are not all these that speak Galilaeans?
8 And how hear we, every man in our own language wherein we were born?
9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, in Judaea and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia,
10 in Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt and the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and sojourners from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretans and Arabians, we hear them speaking in our tongues the mighty works of God.
12 And they were all amazed, and were perplexed, saying one to another, What meaneth this?
13 But others mocking said, They are filled with new wine.
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and spake forth unto them, [saying], Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and give ear unto my words.
15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose; seeing it is [but] the third hour of the day.
16 but this is that which hath been spoken through the prophet Joel:
17 And it shall be in the last days, saith God, I will pour forth of my Spirit upon all flesh: And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams:
18 Yea and on my servants and on my handmaidens in those days Will I pour forth of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heaven above, And signs on the earth beneath; Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke:
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the day of the Lord come, That great and notable [day].
21 And it shall be, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

- Acts.2-1-21

8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; how sayest thou, Show us the Father?
10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I say unto you I speak not from myself: but the Father abiding in me doeth his works.
11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.
12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father.
13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If ye shall ask anything in my name, that will I do.
15 If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments.
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever,
17 [even] the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him: ye know him; for he abideth with you, and shall be in you.

- John 14.8-17