Friday, October 19, 2018

Bishop’s Note: October 18, 2018 – 2019 BCP Collect for Purity


Bishop Eric Menees
Dear Friends,

     As we continue our examination of the Holy Eucharist – Standard Text – 2019 BCP, today we look at the Collect for Purity.

     A Collect is a prayer that is meant to do what its name reflects – collect the thoughts and intentions of those gathered for worship. Collects have been a part of Christian Worship since the time of the Early Church, and Archbishop Cranmer made good use of them by adapting them to the context of the English Reformation.

     The 2019 BCP will be very familiar, as it is virtually unchanged from the 1979 BCP version with this exception; the rubrics (generally printed in red), otherwise known as liturgical directions, allow for the Celebrant to invite the gathered congregation to join in saying the prayer. The 1979 BCP version allowed only for the Celebrant to offer the prayer on behalf of the people.


The Collect for Purity
The Celebrant prays (and the People may be invited to join)
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Collects generally follow a pattern:
Addressing God and laying out an aspect of His character.
A petition or request is made.
An invocation and doxology
The concluding AMEN

In this Collect God is addressed as being both omnipotent (all powerful)  — “Almighty God” — and omniscient (all knowing) — “all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid.” — In this prayer, it is acknowledged that we do not have to make our desires known, nor try to hide our secrets, because God already knows us so intimately that nothing is new or “news” to God.
We ask God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to cleans our innermost thoughts (the thoughts of the heart), in order that we may truly worship Him. That worship is expressed in our love and our praise, as we “magnify” his holy Name.
In the Collect for Purity, there is a trinitarian prayer we pray to Almighty God: We ask God to inspire us through his Holy Spirit, and we pray it all through our intermediary, “Christ our Lord.”
The prayer ends as all prayers should, and as all of ours do – by saying AMEN. The word “amen” has its roots in Hebrew and is generally translated: “so be it.” The intention with an AMEN isn’t so much, ‘“so be it” as I have requested,’ but rather ‘“so be it” as you, God, desire.’ This was expressed by Jesus in his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane when he said, “not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

Needless to say, the Collect for Purity is theologically packed and beautifully expressed, asking God to prepare us for worship. I pray that this Sunday, as you prepare for worship, you’ll pay close attention to the Collect for Purity.

Bishop Menees

Friday, October 12, 2018

Bishop’s Note: October 11, 2018 – 2019 BCP Introduction & Acclamation


Bishop Eric Menees
Dear Friends,

     Each week in the Bishop’s Note, I share thoughts and observations on our common faith and life together. This coming January, the College of Bishops are prepared to approve the final edition of the 2019 Book of Common Prayer. This new prayer book will become the standard* throughout the Diocese and the Province.

    Beginning under the direction of Bishop Bill Thompson, and continuing under the leadership of Archbishop Robert Duncan, I am very pleased with the fruit of the hard work that the Task Force has produced, and I look forward to the roll out in a formal, printed version in the spring to early summer, with Crossways as the publisher. I am also very proud that two of our own clergy serve on that Task Force: Deacon Erin Giles and Father Jonathan Kanary.

      In anticipation of publication, I would like to dedicate the next season of Bishop’s Notes to exploring the new prayer book, the theology represented, and the changes that were made.

   It makes most sense to begin with Holy Eucharist, since that is the most commonly used service throughout the Diocese. There are two eucharistic prayers: Anglican Standard Text and Renewed Ancient Text; I’ll begin with the Anglican Standard Text. The Task Force gave the following as a preface:

The Anglican Standard Text is essentially that of the Holy Communion service of the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 and successor books through 1928, 1929 and 1962. The Anglican Standard Text is presented in contemporary English and in the order for Holy Communion that is common, since the late twentieth century, among ecumenical and Anglican partners worldwide.

  Our worship begins with an opening “Acclamation.”

The Acclamation
The People standing, the Celebrant says this or a seasonal greeting.
Blessed be God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
People   And blessed be his kingdom, now and for ever. Amen.

  According to the Merriam Webster an acclamation is: “a loud eager expression of approval, praise, or assent.” Our opening acclamation is meant to be just that: loud, eager praise and assent to our One God in three persons — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – who are in constant communion; sometimes envisioned as in a mystical dance. In all cases, He is ONE and THREE – in perfect union.

      In addition, in eager praise we acknowledge that God’s kingdom is both present in the moment and will be experienced eternally. In our worship, we enter into God’s kingdom. We enter by gathering as the Body of Christ; singing God’s praise; reading God’s word; confessing our common Faith in God; opening our hearts and souls to God in prayer; asking God for forgiveness and hearing those sweet words of absolution; and coming to God’s Holy Table for His Holy Food, in order to fill us with His Grace so we can be sent out into the world to love and serve Him. When we open our hearts to God, we live in the midst of His kingdom.

      For those familiar with the 1979 BCP, you’ll notice that the new “Opening Acclamation” is slightly different: the article “the” has been added before each person of the Trinity to emphasize the reality that, while the Trinity is one, we can also have a relationship with each person of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit!

     I pray you all a blessed week and wonderful worship on the Lord’s Day as you enter again into worship and praise!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Holding Fast And Living In Accordance With Truth


Pentecost 20B2018
Holding Fast And Living In Accordance With Truth
Fr. Dale Matson

My homily is based primarily on our Old Testament Lesson from Genesis and a portion of Pope Benedict’s final message.

Genesis 2:18,21-24 English Standard Version (ESV)
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
         In this passage we have God creating the first woman Eve as a companion and wife for the first man Adam. This is the prototype binary concept of what it means to be a female or male human created by and related to God and to each other. Our church doctrine is based on Scripture, Tradition and Reason. It is Christian truth and we believe it to be eternal truth revealed to us by God. Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” That same question was posed to Adam and Eve by the serpent. “Did God really say that?” and it is the same question asked by those both outside and inside the church today. St. Vincent stated that truth is that which is believed everywhere, always, and by all. By this a Christian can distinguish religious truth from error.
         The challenge to the church today is to hold fast to her truth and to live in accordance with this eternal and unchanging truth. If the church does not live in accord with her own beliefs, then she is like the man St. James refers to as “Double Minded” “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8)   

The following is excerpted from “THE ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
ON THE OCCASION OF CHRISTMAS GREETINGS

“The attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper. While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being—of what being human really means—is being called into question. “Gender” is being put forth as a new philosophy of sexuality. According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of; it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account, “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27), no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: It was not God who created them male and female—hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him. When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defense of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.” I could not have said this any better.
I would like to sum up what has been said to this point. God created a man and a woman, a male and female. They are not equal. They are complimentary. When joined together in marriage, they form the basic structure of the Church. “Wherever two or three are gathered together in My name, there I will be also.” (Matthew 18:20) The mother, father and children are the basic family unit. What is being challenged today is our very understanding of what it means to be a human being. Like the first sin of Adam and Eve, people are deciding for themselves who they are and what they are. Job applications used to have two options for a response, male or female. Today, terms like “gender fluid” are replacing male and female and further confuse the issue. Dr. Jordon Peterson stated that there are ever expanding categories of gender identity with 31 gender protected categories in New York and 58 gender categories on Facebook. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p93NCyV5Hws
 But as Pope Benedict has already stated, “According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God.”
Romans Chapter one basically states that God is self-evident to everyone and if you chose to reject God, God will give you over to a godless and depraved mind. If you reject God, you will reject truth and you will come up with thoughts and behaviors that will be self-serving, hedonistic and self-destructive. The more you sin, the further you will push yourself away from God, from truth and the more blind you will become. The more you think you are free of this God of rules, the more you will become enslaved to sin. Satan hates the truth, hates rules and is more than happy to suggest a way around the fence to the place where the grass is always greener. “Go ahead, eat from the tree in the midst of the garden. You’ll be like God.”  Life without God is the worst kind of drowning. You think you are living life on your terms but you are drowning spiritually even though you are still breathing. If you exchange the truth for a lie (Romans 1:25), you will become confused and confusion is a hellish uncertainty about life and who you are in life. Confusion is the devil’s veil over the certainty and comfort of truth.     
         Our diocese, the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, left a church that decided that Scripture and Tradition were too limiting and confining, too old fashioned and off-putting. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6) This would have been His answer to Pilate if Pilate had bothered to continue listening instead of immediately turning away after asking Jesus, “What is truth.” The fact is he did not want to know the truth. Jesus said, I am the way” and in 2008, the new presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church Katharine Schori, said that Jesus was a way to God. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IxG96wpx60
There is an old saying in real estate. When you want to sell a house, start by painting the front door. Many of the red doors of the Episcopal Church that represented the shed blood of Christ were repainted with more ‘welcoming’ colors. The other spirit and other gospel were leading the Episcopal Church in a new direction, an inclusive and innovative direction. The Episcopal Church decided on its own to ordain women priests, to consecrate as a bishop, a divorced man living in a sexual relationship with another man. They then decided that same sex couples could be married in church. They have decided for themselves what is good and what is evil. They exchanged truth for a lie.  
         The warning to us in the ACNA is that we need to hold fast to what we believe, but if we do not also live according to our doctrine, to what we believe, we will only become what we left behind. This would be no different than the Israelites fleeing captivity and the idols of Egypt to follow their God into the wilderness only to build a new idol, a golden calf to worship as soon as Moses was out of sight.
         The Roman Catholic Church is in great difficulty today, not because the church has changed her doctrine. She has held fast to her doctrine but her priests, bishops and cardinals are not living in accordance with their doctrine. Predator priests have not been chaste and celibate and bishops have covered up for them for decades. 300 priests were identified as sexually abusing 1,000 children in 6 dioceses over decades in Pennsylvania. A grand jury report this August stated that the bishops knew about it and covered it up. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/08/14/grand-jury-report-pennsylvania-details-abuse-catholic-priests/980687002/  
This is only the tip of the iceberg. According to NBC news, 13 states are opening investigations of alleged sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/religion/thirteen-states-now-investigating-alleged-sexual-abuse-linked-catholic-church-n916646?cid=sm_npd_nn_tw_ma
What Pope Benedict warned the Roman Catholic Church about was the danger of allowing contemporary cultural values to overcome and overwhelm the doctrine and teaching of the church. The church and her people must believe the truth, hold fast to the truth and live according to this truth.
         I say to you today, especially you younger folks. How important to you is what we confess every Sunday? Is our Nicene Creed an eternal truth? How important was it for us to leave the Episcopal Church, A church that abandoned truth? How important is what we believe and teach and how we live? Are you ready for an increasingly godless society to persecute you?
         What is the upside in this? You know the truth. The pagans are desperate and desperately looking for a way out of their Egypt. Simply living as our Catechism states, “In a Christianly Manner”, you are a beacon of light to those drowning in a sea of uncertainty and sin. “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 peter 3:15)
Amen.