Monday, November 30, 2009

St. Andrew the Apostle

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY God, who didst give such grace unto thy holy Apostle Saint Andrew, that he readily obeyed the calling of thy Son Jesus Christ, and followed him without delay; Grant unto us all, that we, being called by thy holy Word, may forthwith give up ourselves obediently to fulfil thy holy commandments; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle. Romans 10:9-21 (ESV)

. . . if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for

“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.”

But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,

“I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”

Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,

“I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”

But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”

The Gospel. St. Matt. 4:18-22 (ESV)

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The First Sunday in Advent

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and [the]* dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

This Collect is to be repeated every day, with the other Collects in Advent, until* Christmas-day.

The Epistle. Romans 13:8-14 (ESV)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

The Gospel. St. Matthew 21:1-13 (ESV)

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

Instead of the Venite, the following shall be said or sung.

O PRAISE the Lord, for it is a good thing to sing praises unto our God; * yea, a joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful.
The Lord doth build up Jerusalem, * and gather together the outcasts of Israel.
He healeth those that are broken in heart, * and giveth medicine to heal their sickness.
O sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving; * sing praises upon the harp unto our God:
Who covereth the heaven with clouds, and prepareth rain for the earth; * and maketh the grass to grow upon the mountains, and herb for the use of men;
Who giveth fodder unto the cattle, * and feedeth the young ravens that call upon him.
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem; * praise thy God, O Sion.
For he hath made fast the bars of thy gates, * and hath blessed thy children within thee.
He maketh peace in thy borders, * and filleth thee with the flour of wheat.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, * world without end. Amen.

The Collect.

O MOST merciful Father, who hast blessed the labours of the husbandman in the returns of the fruits of the earth; We give thee humble and hearty thanks for this thy bounty; beseeching thee to continue thy loving-kindness to us, that our land may still yield her increase, to thy glory and our comfort; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle. St. James 1:16-27 (ESV)

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

The Gospel. St. Matthew 6:21-34 (ESV)

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Sunday next before Advent

The Collect.

STIR up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Epistle. Jeremiah 23:5-8 (ESV)

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

“Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land.”

The Gospel. St. John 6:11-14 (ESV)

Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

O GOD, our refuge and strength, who art the author of all godliness; Be ready, we beseech thee, to hear the devout prayers of thy Church; and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain effectually; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle. Philippians 3:17-21 (ESV)

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

The Gospel. St. Matthew 22:15-22 (ESV)

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone's opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar's.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Purple Hearts for Fort Hood?

Should the 14 dead and 30 wounded in the murderous rampage of Nadil Malik Hasan at Fort Hood, Texas , be awarded the Purple Heart and its civilian counterpart the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom? How our nation answers that will speak volumes about how seriously we take the conflict in which we have long been embroiled and with which we'll be dealing for years to come.

The Purple Heart, created on 7 August 1782 by George Washington, is the nation's oldest decoration. It was originally known as the Badge of Military Merit and was at the time a decoration for "Not only instances of unusual gallantry, but also of extraordinary fidelity and essential service in any way shall meet with a due reward." As far as is known, it was only awarded to three Connecticut Non-Commissioned Officers before falling into disuse after the Revolutionary War. On 22 February 1932, the 200th Anniversary of Washington's birth, it was revived to recognize both meritorious service and military wounds (there may still be a few living recipients who earned theirs for merit before it became exclusively a decoration for combat wounds during World War II). In 1984 awards for casualties suffered as the result of terrorist attacks were authorized and a year later the criteria was expanded to include wounds suffered as the result of "friendly fire."

The Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom was created in the aftermath of 9/11 to recognize civilian employees of the Department of Defense who were injured or killed in the line of duty; awards to non-DoD employees, to include contractors, are authorized with the approval of the Secretary of Defense. Its creation was necessitated by a change made in 1998 that made civilians ineligible to receive the Purple Heart.

Whether or not Nadil Malik Hasan was officially operating as an agent of a foreign group has yet to be determined. It is clear, however, that he is a radical Islamist who was in contact (some 20 emails) with highly placed leaders of Al-Qaeda. It is indisputable that his actions brought joy and celebration among our enemies. This was an act of war, and those who were killed and wounded in it deserve to be recognized as such. That includes, incidentally, the pre-born child of PFC Francheka Valez, who wouldn't have been there if their mother hadn't been a soldier.

I seriously doubt that either of those things will happen, though. To award those medals would be an admission that this was indeed a terrorist act and the leaders involved, both civilian and military, seem determined to avoid that at all cost. To recognize the pre-born baby in any way, even to admit its existence, would be to acknowledge that they were a person and the Administration of the most militantly pro-abortion President in American history is hardly likely to do that!

But refusal to recognize a pair a truths does not make those truths any less true!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy household the Church in continual godliness; that through thy protection it may be free from all adversities, and devoutly given to serve thee in good works, to the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

All Saints Day (of the Octave)

O ALMIGHTY God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord; Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys which thou hast prepared for those who unfeignedly love thee; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle. Ephesians 1:3-11 (ESV)

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

The Gospel. St. Matthew 18:21-35 (ESV)

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”Justify Full

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Night 2009: Some Preliminary Thoughts

I have long loved politics and am a self-confessed political junkie; there was a time in my life when it would have been entirely possible that I'd end up a political hack (I'm glad that I didn't). Election night for me often has the feel of the Super Bowl.

2009 is an off year election, so there weren't many major elections to follow but it still provided some interesting results. Here in South Carolina, I had two friends running for their respective city/town councils. In my hometown of Myrtle Beach, Randal Wallace, whom I've known since we were both kids, will face a runoff in his bid for reelection to the City Council -- among those headed to the runoff he got the most votes, so he gets two more weeks of campaigning. In Mount Pleasant, Howard Chalmers, whom I knew from my days in Moultrie Camp #27, SCV (I'm still in the SCV, just another camp), was unsucessful in his bid for a seat on the Town Council. That's unfortunate, as he would have been a strong conservative voice there; I hope this isn't the end of his political aspirations.

In Virginia and New Jersey, Republicans won (and in Virginia, won big!). Despite the denials of the White House that those weren't reproofs of President Obama, he had campaigned actively for both of the Democrats in those races and was not able to deliver the vote. It appears that the honeymoon is over and that 2010 won't be pleasant for him and may actually be a 1994-redux.

The most interesting race, in my opinion, has been New York's 23rd Congressional District and the seat vacated by former Congressman John McHugh's appointment as Secretary of the Army. Until last weekend it had been a three way race between Democrat Bill Owens, Republican State Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, and Conservative Doug Hoffman. Scozzafava, a liberal Republican by any reasonable standard, dropped out after it became clear that she was fast loosing support. As I write this, shortly after midnight, it appears that Owens has won by a thin margin, so thin, in fact, that if the small amount of votes that Scozzafava received had gone to Hoffman, he would have been victorious. The absentee ballots have not yet been counted and there are some voting machine issues. This race may be in the news in the coming days.

The Conservative Party of New York State, under whose banner Hoffman ran, is an interesting entity that is worthy of emulation in other parts of the country, somewhat of a party within a party when the Republican party stays on conservative message, and functioning as an alternative at those times (as with Scozzafava) when it does not. Unlike most third parties, it has actually elected someone in a statewide race -- James Buckley, who was elected to the U.S. Senate on the Conservative ticket in 1970 (he went on to loose his bid for reelection in 1976, running as a Republican). There is a serious need to keep the Republican party on conservative message and the Republican Assembly concept is another way to do that and should be supported throughout the country. Conservatives need to be willing to vote for a third-party when the Republican candidates are unacceptable.

Given that Scozzafava's campaign was funded in large part by the National Republican Congressional Committee, they are unworthy of support and former supporters should let them know the reason for that lack of support.

2010 should be a an exceptionally interesting year. I hope that the Republican Party presents itself as a Conservative entity rather than trying to moderate itself.