Saturday, May 26, 2018

Trinity Sunday 27 May 2018

My Friends,
“Behold, a door was opened in heaven”
 
It was behind closed doors, literally and figuratively, that Jesus made known to us his resurrection. But it is not only behind closed doors that the things of God are made known to us.  Through the incarnation and manifestation of Jesus Christ, through his passion and death, through his resurrection and ascension, through the sending of the Holy Spirit, “a door was opened in heaven” and we behold the glory of God in the fullness of his revelation.  God makes himself known to us.
 
Trinity Sunday sets before us the vision of God which is the end of man.  “The end of man is endless Godhead endlessly possessed” (Austin Farrer).  Trinity Sunday, we might say, is the great Te Deum Laudamus of the Church.  We proclaim God as the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. W e proclaim what we have been given to behold through the fullness of the scriptural witness to God’s revelation.  It is what we have been given to proclaim.  It is also that in which we are privileged to participate.
 
We meet together in the glory of the revealed God, the glory of the Trinity.  All our beginnings and all our endings have their place of meeting in the Trinity.  It is, we may say, the one thing essential. No Trinity, no Christianity.  “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’, except by the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor.12.3).  To say ‘Jesus is Lord’ is to make a Trinitarian statement.  It is the burden of the Church’s proclamation.
 
Trinity Sunday signals an ending and marks a beginning.  There is an ending of all that we have gone through from Advent to this day, an ending that is a kind of gathering, a threefold gathering:
 
1. a gathering of all the history of salvation into this fullness of revelation;
2. a gathering of all religion into this fullness of meaning.
3. a gathering of all the substantial moments in the life of Christ into this fullness of understanding.
 
There is a beginning as well.  There is our entry by grace, year by year, into the fullness of revelation, the fullness of meaning and the fullness of understanding which has been opened to view.  “Behold a door was opened in heaven”(Rev.4.1).  We are given to behold and enter into what we behold.  What we behold are the highest things of the Spirit; in short, the spiritual reality of the living God.  This is what we participate in.
 
To behold the highest things of heaven is to make a new beginning: “ye must be born again”, born anew, born from above.  There must be in us a renewal of our understanding of what it means to be born again.  We enter by grace into what Jesus wants us to know so that the divine life opened to view might take shape in us for our good and to his glory.
 
It means a new perspective, a deeper understanding and a beholding of things from above. There is a constant need for the resurrection of our understanding in the things which Jesus wants us to know.  There are essentially two things which Jesus wants us to know.  They are the things into which everything he says and does are gathered and find their place.
 
He has come to us with a twofold purpose: to reveal and to redeem; to reveal God to us and to redeem us to God.  What he wants us essentially to know is his divine identity and his identity with us.  There is in fact an exegesis of God - a making known of God.  Jesus himself is the exegesis, the interpretive exposition. “He who has seen me has seen the Father”.
 
The point is made most directly in the Prologue to St. John’s Gospel.  “No one has ever seen God; the only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known” (John 1.18).  It is the only place in the Scriptures where exegesis - a making known - is used, not about a text or about an event, but about God himself.  Jesus is the exegete of God.  He makes God known to us even as he is the mediator between God and Man who brings us into fellowship with God.  That fellowship is the fellowship of the Trinity - the fellowship of God with God in God.  “Behold, a door was opened in heaven”.  We behold what we enjoy - the fellowship of the Trinity.
 
Just as in Holy Baptism we are born anew into the fellowship of God with God in God, so in the Holy Eucharist, we participate in what we proclaim.  We participate in the Son’s thanksgiving to the Father in the Holy Spirit.  We are made “partakers of the divine nature” and do not lose our humanity but find its truth, redeemed and sanctified.  We participate in what we behold. 
 
You see, not only has “a door been opened in heaven” but we have been invited into the fellowship of God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  “No one has ever seen God; the only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known”.  And we have fellowship with him whom we behold.  Trinity signifies communion, the communion of God Himself and our communion with God, in God and through God.
 
Perhaps what it signifies is best captured in George Herbert’s little poem about what has been opened to view.
 
Thou hast but two rare cabinets full of treasure,
                  The Trinitie, and Incarnation:
                         Thou hast unlockt them both,
                  And made them jewels to betroth
                         The work of thy creation
Unto thy self in everlasting pleasure.  (Ungratefulness)
 
What we proclaim with clarity is what we are given to participate in with charity.  And such is the grace of God.
“Behold, a door was opened in heaven”.

Father Ed Bakker,
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
Launceston
Tasmania
Australia



Saturday, May 19, 2018

Vigil of Pentecost


My Friends,

Reading I: Genesis 11:1-9
Responsorial Psalm 104
Reading II: Romans 8:22-27
Gospel: John 7:37-3

THE VARIETY OF READINGS for this Pentecost lay out God’s plan for a better world. We’re not talking about personal salvation here. Rather we’re talking about disciples of Christ interacting with the world around them. In other words, the way we communicate our convictions of the truth is what will bring about justice and peace.

Communication, then, is the focus of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit gives those who receive that person of the Trinity not only the words to speak and the actions to perform, but eloquence and powerful deeds.
The first reading from the vigil of Pentecost is a revealing choice of readings. A parable of God’s interaction with humanity and humanity’s failure to reciprocate properly, the Tower of Babel represents humanity’s arrogance and pride in its achievements. Confusion of tongues results and divides the world. With the New Testament—the era of the Holy Spirit—that division begins to be resolved. The resolution comes about as each new creature is reborn through baptism. With Babel God takes the wind out of our sails, so to speak. With Pentecost and the infilling with the Holy Spirit we are given the power to forgive sins. The world is reconciled to God through Jesus whose Spirit restores relationships. We are restored to God and to one another.

The Spirit of God is communicated to us by Jesus directly through the Apostles. He breathes His Spirit into them. After Jesus is ascended, the Spirit shows up anew in a more public setting so that the new power would be immediately effective for proclaiming the gospel. It is for the purpose of winning the world for Christ that the Spirit is given—the communication of the gospel. The Tower of Babel is no longer hanging over humanity; God’s Spirit in people bridges the communication gap. Ultimately all strife and contention will be overcome by the love of Christ as proclaimed and lived by His followers.

Once again, as the Gospel of John emphasizes, forgiving and reconciling are the dominant results of the Spirit’s indwelling. Paul points out that there are many gifts, all for building up the Body of Christ, but the preeminent gift we receive is the power to forgive and retain sins.
All Anglican Catholics by their baptism have a priestly character. Although only the ordained priest can forgive sins in the name of Christ’s church, all who are baptized can forgive and promote an atmosphere of reconciliation. What divides even followers of Christ is the holding of grudges. But if we stir up the spiritual gives within us, we will know how to forgive and be agents of reconciliation at home, at work, in church. But first we must shake off the way of the world. We must reflect and examine our consciences. We must make ourselves aware of where there is unforgiveness, dissention and division so that Jesus’ peace can take over our lives.

We are resurrection people—a time honoured way of referring to Christ’s disciples. Pentecost, however is what makes resurrection people effective.

Questions to ponder
•If I am a disciple of Christ who communicates with the day-to-day world around me, how does the Spirit of Christ in me affect the way I communicate?
•What role, if any, does a disciple of Christ filled with the Holy Spirit have to play in the world at large?
•Forgiveness and reconciliation are the principle works of Spirit-filled people. What are some examples of such works in my own experience?

Father Ed Bakker
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
Launceston
Tasmania
Australia


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Sunday after the Ascension

My Friends,
“He sitteth on the right hand of the Father”
 
There is the religion of Jesus in the heart, the religion of sentiment and feeling.  There is, too, the religion of Jesus the moral policeman, the religion of outward conformity to the shifting demands of social and political correctness.  Neither of them is the religion of the risen and ascended Christ who “sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty”, which is what the Creeds say out of the Scriptures.  And without the risen and ascended Christ of the Scriptures creedally understood, they are altogether empty and destructive, the religion of empty hearts and whitened sepulchres.
 
It is what happens when we try to reduce God to where we are rather than to be lifted up to where he is.  Our lives are to be found in the comings and goings of God, not God in our comings and goings.  There is all the difference in the world between these two perspectives: the one would make God subject to us; the other would place us with God in the revelation of his truth and love.
 
Our beginnings and our endings find their place in the comings and goings of God.  Today is the Sunday after the Ascension.  We celebrate the Ascension and the Session of Jesus Christ to “sit at the right hand of the Father”.  There is in this a kind of ending, a sense of accomplishment and fullfilment.  All that pertains to our salvation has been accomplished.  “It is finished” and “Into thy hands I commend my spirit”.  These are the last two words of Christ from the cross.
 
In the Session, the risen and ascended Christ enters into the Father’s glory and so into the eternal rest of God.  “The end of all things is at hand”, says St. Paul, all rather calmly and not at all sensationally, I think.  The ending of all things is indeed celebrated in the Ascension and the Session of Christ.  From there we await a new beginning, the descent of the Holy Spirit to keep us in the love and knowledge of what has been accomplished by Christ Jesus for us and which remains to be realised in us.
 
The Son enters into his rest having accomplished “the will of him who sent him”.  He returns to glory and enters into glory.  What does it signify for us?  Only the meaning of our lives in prayer and praise; our lives in faith, hope and charity.
 
For Christ ascends and enters into the rest of God in the fullness of our humanity which he has assumed, restored and redeemed.  He bears the marks of the crucifixion.  They are now the prints of love.  Nothing of the past is lost or ignored.  All is gathered into glory.  Our humanity has a place with God.  We have an end in God.  The new beginning that we celebrate at Pentecost belongs to the accomplishment of the Son’s salvation for us. T he promised gift of the Holy Spirit would keep us in the knowledge and the love of God, come what may in the circumstances and accidents of our lives.  It is what has been communicated to us through the comings and goings of the Father’s Son and Word.
 
We have at once an orientation and a destination.  We have at once a direction and a place.  In prayer and praise, in Word and Sacrament, in sacrifice and service, we participate in the comings and goings of God for us and enter into the promise of his rest in glory.
 
Our lives are lived to God and with God.  The Ascension and the Session of Christ would remind us of this.  The Creeds say and the Scriptures say that Christ “sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty”.  It is the place, as one theologian once put it, that is “much to be preferred” and without which he cannot be in our hearts and certainly cannot be the ordering principle of our lives morally, socially and politically.  Only if we honour Christ in his Ascension and Session can we possibly know him, love him and serve him in our hearts and in our lives.
 
The Session – Christ’s sitting at the right hand of God the Father Almighty - recalls the sabbath rest of God after his six-day wonder in the work of creation.  In both the sabbath and the session, what is meant is the enjoyment, the taking delight, in what has been accomplished: in the one, taking delight in creation itself, for “behold, it was very good”; and in the other, taking delight in the restoration of the whole creation through the redemption of our humanity in the risen and ascended Christ.
 
There is this difference, however.  In the first, God takes delight in what he has made.  In the second, there is the greater delight in the mutual love of the Son for the Father in the Holy Spirit into which love everything else finds its perfection and end.  In the exaltation of the Son, there is the exaltation of our humanity.  We have a direction.  It is to God.  We have a home.  It is with God.
 
In the comings and goings of God, we find our purpose and our place - for our hearts and for all that our hearts contain.  We have only to live it, in prayer and praise.  In the lifting up of our hearts through him who has lifted up all things to the Father, we find our peace, our purpose and our place.  It is “at all times and in all places” that we offer our prayers and praises to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit.  We live for God, with God and in God.
 
Such is the grace of Christ’s Ascension and his grace is unto glory where Christ “sitteth on the right hand of the Father”.

Father Ed Bakker
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
Launceston on Tasmania
Australia




Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Ascension of our Lord - 10 May 2018

My Friends,


'At God's Right Hand'
The Ascension of the Lord



So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.
Mark 16:19



The apostles did more than preach about Jesus, they shared the personal stories of their own development of a love relationship with Christ... Love became a golden thread that bound them to their listeners and captivated their hearts. That is why they became such astonishing convert makers. They used the most irresistible force ever invented to change people's minds--by changing people's hearts first. This is why Easter time always seems as close to paradise as we get to on earth. This puts the fire and enthusiasm into evangelization. When Jesus felt absolutely certain the apostles were ready to go on their own, he ascended to heaven and sat down at God's right hand.

Father Ed Bakker
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
Launceston on Tasmania
Australia




Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Rogation Days, Mon, Tues & Wed 7,8,9 May 2018

My Friends,


The Rogation  Days were, in origin, the adaption of pagan custom to a Christian use. The pagan Romans used to hold a solemn procession of prayer for the safe growth of the corn crop each year. The greater Rogation or Litany on April the 25th is a survival of this. Later the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after the fifth Sunday after Easter were set aside as the lesser Rogation days. Formerly these were all fast days and public processions were held during which the Litany of the Saints was chanted. Although they are no longer fast days, the liturgy still retains penitential aspect and stresses the need  we have to avert God's anger by humble prayer and sacrifice.


The Rogation Mass lacks the festive tone of Easter and emphasizes the efficacy of prayer in adverting God's anger and securing His blessings.


In the Epistle for the Rogation Mass from Saint James 5, the verses 16-20 we read all about the power of prayer. We, as Catholic Christians, we need to have a disciplined prayer life and if we do so then we will be blessed. A particular prayer , ie. for someone who has strayed from the truth and if our prayer brings that person back to the Lord, then it means that a soul has been saved from death.
If we pray for friends on Facebook, it is just so easy to type " praying", but don we actually set the time aside to do so?
We go to Confession and confess our sins to our Priest, but have we thought about confessing our sings to one another and pray for one another for the healing of our souls.


On this night, let us ask God to grant us constancy and/or perseverance in prayer ( Saint Luke 11, verses 5-13)


Amen.


Father Ed Bakker
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
Launceston
Tasmania
Australia