Holy Week 2017

Holy Week Teaching

 

During Holy Week we are encouraged to read and reflect on the section of the Catechism (the basic teaching of the Church) on God the Son (pages 850-851 of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer).

 

We can note a few things in this. First of all that Jesus is God. We, of course, speak of him as the Son 0f God, and rightly so. But we do not mean by that this human being was somehow adopted to be God’s Son or that he became God’s Son though the virginal conception (in which the Church devoutly believes as a sign of the Incarnation). God the Son was from eternity the Son of Father, proceeding from him. This outpouring of the Father’s love in the Son, created the cosmos and entered into our lives in the incarnation.

 

Jesus is human. God the Son becomes a human being. Like us in every way but without sin. He offered the Father the obedience and love that we cannot because of being bound by Sin. Through union with him, his will becomes our will.

 

So. God did not find some poor guy to injure for our sins. God himself, united with human nature, offered himself up on our behalf. The judge made himself the judged. He became the answer to his own question. Jesus is God.  It’s all “amazing grace”.

 

Here it is:

 

God the Son

Q.

What do we mean when we say that Jesus is the only

Son of God?

A

We mean that Jesus is the only perfect image of the

Father, and shows us the nature of God.

 

 

Q.

What is the nature of God revealed in Jesus?

A.

God is love.

 

 

Q.

What do we mean when we say that Jesus was

conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and became

incarnate from the Virgin Mary?

A.

We mean that by God's own act, his divine Son received

our human nature from the Virgin Mary, his mother.

 

 

Q.

Why did he take our human nature?

A.

The divine Son became human, so that in him human

beings might be adopted as children of God, and be

made heirs of God's kingdom.

 

 

Q.

What is the great importance of Jesus' suffering and

death?

A.

By his obedience, even to suffering and death, Jesus

made the offering which we could not make; in him we

are freed from the power of sin and reconciled to God.

 

 

Q.

What is the significance of Jesus' resurrection?

A.

By his resurrection, Jesus overcame death and opened

for us the way of eternal life.

 

 

Q.

What do we mean when we say that he descended to the

dead?

A.

We mean that he went to the departed and offered them

also the benefits of redemption.

 

 

Q.

What do we mean when we say that he ascended into

heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father?

A.

We mean that Jesus took our human nature into

heaven where he now reigns with the Father and

intercedes for us.

 

 

Q.

How can we share in his victory over sin, suffering, and

death?

A.

We share in his victory when we are baptized into the

New Covenant and become living members of Christ.



Palm Sunday 2017 – Penance

Forgiveness

Q.

What is Reconciliation of a Penitent?

A.

Reconciliation of a Penitent, or Penance, is the rite in

which those who repent of their sins may confess them

to God in the presence of a priest, and receive the

assurance of pardon and the grace of absolution.

 

Occasionally I have heard someone say something like “I wish we had confession in our church”. The answer is, that if you look in our Prayer Books you will see that we do. The Anglican Reformers, although they wanted to do away with the idea that people

had to make private confession to  a priest, were very insistent that this needed to be an option.  They, of course, believed that the absolution that we receive after the congregation makes a general confession is completely valid when received in faith. At the same time they outlined a couple of reasons why individual sacramental confession continued to be important. First of all because it was a way that a Christian could speak about their spiritual life with a priest.  Secondly because, even when we have received the general absolution, there still might be cases in which our consciences remain troubled and we need to say some things out loud and be forgiven

.

 

The 1962 Book of Common Prayer says that the priest should read the

Exhortation

to the Congregation at least four times a year. This exhortation is on pages 90-91 of the 1962 Canadian BCP. It includes the following “And because it is requisite, that no man should come to the holy Communion, but with a full trust in God’s mercy, and with a quiet conscience; therefore if there be any of you, who by this means cannot quiet his own conscience herein, but requireth further comfort or counsel, let him come to me, or to some other discreet Minister of God’s Word, and open his grief; that by the ministry of God’s holy Word, he may receive the benefit of absolution, together with spiritual counsel and advice, to the quieting of his conscience, and the avoiding of all scruple and doubtfulness.”

 

C.S. Lewis describes how the characters in the Narnia books sometimes simply find themselves in the presence of Aslan the Lion (who is Christ in these stories) simply being truly known and speaking the truth about themselves. Here they know that they are known. Aslan often says little but that experience of being known itself is enough. They are forgiven.

 

Certainly it may be intimidating to think about this. But it can be profoundly healing. It helps us to overcome shame and regret, receive forgiveness and move on with Christ. Jesus has given us this sacrament as one of his primary ways of grace. In fact, in the Book of Common Prayer, it seems that it is

the

primary ministry of a priest, in that the bishop lays his hands on the priest to be and says “those whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven…”  The church teaches and has taught, since the beginning, that Christ has given his priests the authority to forgive sins by his power. It’s his gift to us.

 

If you feel yourself moved to make your confession, what should you confess? Following the Anglican Reformers, for those who are undertaking this as a regular spiritual practice, the Ten Commandments are one good place to start. Remembering that Jesus tell us that we are to observe these

inwardly

not just outwardly. So, for example. “have no other gods before me” means the various things that we put at the centre of our lives instead of God.

 

In some cases, again, following the Anglican Reformers (and the above exhortation) we might want to confess those things which are troubling our consciences.

 

The forms for making ones’s confession are on the bottom of page 581-582 in the 1962 Book of Common Prayer (the little maroon prayer book), on page 447 of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (the Blue paper back) or page 171 of the Book of Alternative Services (Green prayer book). They are all pretty much the same.

 

The Anglican Church is

extremely strict that nothing that is said in a confession can ever be spoken of or alluded to under any circumstances by the priest. The priest would not even suggest that someone had made their confession.  Everything that a priest hears is “under the seal” of the sacrament of confession. The only

exception is if a child is suffering significant abuse that must legally be reported. And even then one could expect the priest would offer real support and guidance to the person making their confession.

 

What is the point of this Sacrament? The point is to know Christ’s forgiveness. It’s that simple.

 

The Rev Faith Brace and I will both be available to hear confessions on Good Friday between 2-3pm. Faith will be in the library area of the church. I will be in my office.

 

God’s blessings on you during the upcoming Holy Week.

 

Greg+



This is My Body

This is My Body
During the next number of weeks we are going to be talking about this theme.

Why this is my body? What comes to mind when you think of this? If you go to church regularly probably the first thing that you will think of is the Eucharist.That is, where the priest, taking the bread in hand repeats Jesus words, “take eat, this is my body”.  And when the people are receiving communion are told as the consecrated host is given to them, “the body of Christ”.

No doubt many of you have a similar experience to mine. When I first began to receive communion (as an adult) my understanding of what the eucharist is was just a little shaky. Despite my poor theology I began to notice that each time I received communion the Lord’s light entered in, changing me, melting away my inner defences and (like God seemed to say to C.S. Lewis) saying within “put down your gun” (so to speak) and welcome me.

The Anglican reformers never wanted to talk much about how exactly Jesus was present in bread and wine of the eucharist. They just wanted to emphasize that he is there personally. And that in the eucharist he meets us and joins himself to us-personally. Very personally. They mostly wanted to talk about what happens to us when that meeting occurs.

The Book of Common Prayer tells us that Jesus is received in the bread and wine in a “spiritual manner”. When we think of the word “spiritual” we may think of something kind of vague and unearthly. Back in the day (when the prayer book was written) “spiritual” did not mean anything like that. It meant “by the action of God the Holy Spirit”. The Anglican reformers believed that when Christians receive holy communion they are, by God the Holy Spirit, lifted to heaven, to the presence of Christ, at the right hand of the Father-receiving into themselves his divine and human self, his body and blood. The way they put it is almost startling. “The body (or blood) of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life” said the priest when giving communion. Through this eating and drinking not only is Christ’s soul joined to our soul, but his body is joined to ours. Completely united.

This is my body. So this is his body in the eucharist and this becomes our bodies in the eucharist. We can imagine Jesus looking with delight and love at us, his people, and saying “this is my body”. And we, his people, are together the Body of Christ.
 
 


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