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Miroslav Volf: “Because the Christian God is not a lonely God”

27 May 2018

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“Because the Christian God is not a lonely God, but rather a communion of three persons, faith leads human beings into the divine communion. One cannot, however, have a self-enclosed communion with the Triune God- a “foursome,” as it were– for the Christian God is not a private deity. Communion with this God is at once also communion with those others who have entrusted themselves in faith to the same God. Hence one and the same act of faith places a person into a new relationship both with God and with all others who stand in communion with God.”

Miroslav Volf

 

 

Miroslav Volf

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T.S. Eliot: “In a world of fugitives”

26 May 2018

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“In a world of fugitives, the person taking the opposite direction will appear to run away.”

T.S. Eliot

Philip Neri: “Cast yourself into the arms of God”

25 May 2018

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“Cast yourself into the arms of God and be very sure that if He wants anything of you, He will lift you for the work and give you strength.”

Philip Neri

Isaac of Syria: “Ever let mercy outweigh all else in you”

24 May 2018

Isaac of Syria

 

 

“Ever let mercy outweigh all else in you. Let our compassion be a mirror where we may see in ourselves that likeness and that true image which belong to the Divine nature and Divine essence. A heart hard and unmerciful will never be pure.”

Isaac of Syria

The Venerable Bede: “without love faith is empty”

22 May 2018

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“They alone know how to believe in God who love God, who are Christians not only in name but also in action and [way of] life, because without love faith is empty. With love, it is the faith of a Christian —without love, the faith of a demon.”

The Venerable Bede

After Pentecost

21 May 2018

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Yesterday many churches observed the feast of Pentecost. Most of the feast days in the church year are connected with key events in Jesus’s life. At Christmas we celebrate his birth. At Epiphany, the Visit of the Magi. On Palm Sunday, his final entry into Jerusalem. On Maundy Thursday, the Last Supper. On Good Friday, his crucifixion. At Easter, his glorious resurrection. We actually celebrate Jesus and his Resurrection every single Sunday. As Saint Augustine of Hippo observed, “We are the Easter people and Hallelujah is our song!” The new life Christ won for us is a gift that deserves to be celebrated every day.

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Measured purely in calendar days, though, the season after Pentecost is the longest season of the church year. And that reflects the epoch in which we live. Today, Christ’s followers, are living in the era after Pentecost, the season of the Spirit.

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Originally Pentecost was a Jewish harvest festival, the Festival of Weeks, some fifty days after Passover. For us, as the second chapter of Acts records, Pentecost points to that great day, when, after Christ’s ascension, the Apostles and other followers were gathered in Jerusalem, and the Holy Spirit came like a wind and filled them, such that, fired by that Spirit, they spoke in all manner of languages, and people from the many nations present understood what was said in their own tongue.

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The Spirit had of course been present and at work since well before that moment. At the creation, the Spirit hovered over the water and it guided and inspired God’s Holy People and His Prophets throughout the Old Testament period. In the Gospels, the Spirit moved and inspired Jesus throughout his own ministry, from his birth and baptism, where the Spirit descended like a dove, to his testing in the wilderness, and his preaching and miracles. The Spirit of God has never been absent from this world, yet in this era after Pentecost, between the first and second comings of Christ, we are called to be born of the Spirit, to witness his glorious work and to follow his direction more than ever.

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In this day and age, where social media and constant news coverage seem to be dividing more than unifying people, I am reminded particularly that, among the many gifts of the Spirit poured out at Pentecost, was the gift of mutual understanding. Acts, chapter 2, verse 5 and following says, “Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?”

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Pentecost can be seen as God’s answer to the tragic story of Babel in the eleventh chapter of Genesis, when men, in their hubris, tried to build a tower to rival the grandeur of God.  God scattered them and confused their languages. But at Pentecost, God shows humanity a Spirit-filled alternative that is possible if we seek God’s way. We can be one with each other and with God through His Holy Spirit.

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Humanity has never been more in need of God’s Spirit than it is in this age. The good news is that we are never without God’s gift of the Spirit; the key is simply to recognize this and become more faithful and trusting in the Spirit’s presence and power. It is the breath of God, breathing in us. The Greek word for “spirit” is pneuma, which means “breath.” We are seldom aware of our breathing. It is so essential for life that we only think about it when something is wrong with it. The Spirit of God is like our breath.  God’s spirit is more intimate to us than we are to ourselves. We might not often be aware of it, but without it we cannot live a spiritual life. It is the Holy Spirit of God who prays in us, who offers us the gifts of love, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, gentleness, peace, and joy.  It is the Holy Spirit who offers us the life that death cannot destroy.

 

Whitsunday

20 May 2018

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GOD, who as at this time didſt teach the hearts of thy faithful people, by the send- ing to them the light of thy Holy Spirit; Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort, through the merits of Chriſt Je- sus our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Collect for WHIT-SUNDAY (1662 Book of Common prayer)