Monday, June 17, 2019

The Four Living Creatures and the Gospel Writers

In our Epistle reading for Trinity Sunday, we heard the following.
“Surrounding this throne were twenty-four other thrones upon which were seated twenty-four elders; they were clothed in white garments and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning and peals of thunder; before it burned seven flaming torches, the seven spirits of God. The floor around the throne was like a sea of glass that was crystal-clear. At the very center, around the throne itself, stood four living creatures covered with eyes front and back. The first creature resembled a lion; the second, an ox; the third had the face of a man; while the fourth looked like an eagle in flight. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and eyes all over, inside and out. Day and night, without pause, they sing: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, He who was, and who is, and who is to come!”

What some may not know is that the four Living Creatures were likened to the four Gospel writers by St. Irenaeus (140-202). These four living creatures are sometimes carved into the church pulpits or the four corners of an altar.
St. Irenaeus explained the symbolism as follows:

St. Matthew is represented by a divine man because the Gospel highlights Jesus’ entry into this world, first by presenting His family lineage — “A family record of Jesus Christ, Son of David, son of Abraham” (Mt 1:1) — and His incarnation and birth: “Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about” (Mt 1:18). “This then,” according to St. Irenaeus, “is the Gospel of His humanity; for which reason it is, too, that the character of a humble and meek man is kept up through the whole Gospel.”

St. Mark, represented by the winged lion, references the Prophet Isaiah when he begins his gospel: “Here begins the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In Isaiah the prophet it is written: ‘I send my messenger before you to prepare your way: a herald’s voice in the desert, crying, “Make ready the way of the Lord, clear Him a straight path.’” “The voice in the desert crying” reminds one of a lion’s roar, and the prophetical spirit descending to earth reminds one of a “winged message.” The lion also signified royalty, an appropriate symbol for the Son of God.

The winged ox represents St. Luke. Oxen were used in temple sacrifices. For instance, when the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem, an ox and a fatling were sacrificed every six steps (2 Sm 6). St. Luke begins his Gospel with the announcement of the birth of St. John the Baptizer to his father, the priest Zechariah, who was offering sacrifice in the Temple (Lk 1). St. Luke also includes the parable of the Prodigal Son, in which the fatted calf is slaughtered, not only to celebrate the younger son’s return, but also to foreshadow the joy we must have in receiving reconciliation through our most merciful Savior who as Priest offered Himself in sacrifice to forgive our sins. Therefore, the winged ox reminds us of the priestly character of our Lord and His sacrifice for our redemption.

Lastly, St. John is represented by the rising eagle. The Gospel begins with the “lofty” prologue and “rises” to pierce most deeply the mysteries of God, the relationship between the Father and the Son, and the incarnation: “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was in God’s presence, and the Word was God. He was present to God in the beginning. Through Him all things came into being, and apart from Him nothing came to be” (Jn 1:1-3). And “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we have seen His glory: The glory of an only Son coming from the Father filled with enduring love” (Jn 1:14). The Gospel of St. John, unlike the other Gospels, engages the reader with the most profound teachings of our Lord, such as the long discourses Jesus has with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, and the beautiful teachings on the Bread of Life and the Good Shepherd. Jesus, too, identified Himself as “the way, the truth, and the life,” and anyone who embraces Him as such will rise to everlasting life with Him.

The excellent source material comes from here:

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Bishop’s Note – The Great Commission

Bishop Eric Menees
Greetings in the name of our risen Lord! This past June 9th, we celebrated the Feast of Pentecost – On this holy day we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. How amazing it is to contemplate the birth and life of the Church which remains a constant in the life of the world and will remain so until our Lord comes again. As a bishop in Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church it is the greatest of honors to serve alongside of you, my brothers and sisters in the Diocese of San Joaquin, and alongside my brother bishops in the Anglican Church in North America. In fact, this week I will have the honor of gathering with my fellow bishops in Dallas as we prepare for the Provincial Council & Provincial Assembly meetings soon afterwards.

We in the College of Bishops will be gathering and imploring the Holy Spirit for discernment and wisdom as we select an archbishop for the next five years. As of now it appears Archbishop Foley Beach will be asked to continue his service as archbishop for another five years. In this first five years he has been a truly godly man who has led us faithfully and well. Please pray for me and all the bishops gathering that we may have wisdom and discernment to follow God’s will for the ACNA. Please also continue to pray for Archbishop Beach’s ministry not only in North America but in the wider church.

After the meeting of the College of Bishops the larger church will gather in discernment in the ACNA’s Provincial Assembly to decide on a number of matters concerning the province. Perhaps the most anticipated is the adoption of the 2019 Book of Common Prayer which we’ve been studying in the Bishop’s Note these last few months. This proposed BCP is the fruit of 10 years of work by many clergy and laity around the ACNA including our own Fr. Jonathan Kanary. If you haven’t looked at it yet I encourage you to visit where you can see the proposed texts and where copies of the BCP will be available for sale after the Assembly. The proposed BCP does an excellent job of conveying the living faith of those who have gone before us in a way that can be used to share the gospel and spread the kingdom around us.

An important aspect of our common ministry, foundational aspect of our being Anglican, is found in our form of governance. Even before the ACNA was formed a Governance Task Force was formed to look at issues of structure and governance in our church and this year the Governance Task Force is submitting a number of canonical amendments to the Assembly which include:
Title I, Canon 6, Section 9 – Concerning Transfer
The canons of the ACNA originally stated that congregations reserved the right to transfer between dioceses as long as they had the permission of the bishops involved. This section is being replaced so that it still says congregations reserve that right with the permission of their bishops, but it also lays out steps by which a congregation can do this.

Title I, Canon 10, Section 2 - Concerning Duties of the laity
A few slight changes are made to the duties of the laity, emphasizing God’s help in their Christian duty as well as the Christian duty to serve our neighbors and proclaim the Gospel.

Title II, Canon 7 - Of Christian Marriage
An amendment has been proposed to change the word of Holy Matrimony in this canon from “sacrament” to “commonly called sacrament.”

Canon I.12 - Of Missionary Districts 
Several amendments have been proposed after recommendation from GAFCON so that missionary districts aren’t established in areas where other GAFCON churches already exist.

Canons III. 3 and III.4 - Ordination Oaths for Deacons and Presbyters, conforming to Ordination Oath of Bishops
This canon is amended so that the canons will be consistent with the proposed 2019 Book of Common Prayer’s ordination oaths. It adds sections in the oaths of priests saying they will pay true and canonical obedience to their bishop, and in the oaths of bishops saying they will pay true and canonical obedience to the archbishop.

Canon IV.2 - Of Charges against Bishops, Presbyters, or Deacons 
An amendment is added to clarify the definition, scope, and use of Godly Admonitions from bishops.

Canon IV.3 - Of Presentments of Presbyters and Deacons
Changes have been made so that the Archbishop’s Office will keep a list of all clergy who have been disciplined so that dioceses can refer to it.
The theme of the Provincial Assembly is “Renewing our Call to the Great Commission.” All of the amendments and the new BCP should help us in following the Great Commission, and there will also be a number of speakers at the Assembly speaking to how we as Christians can help in spreading the kingdom. More information about the Assembly can be found at .
Placing emphasis on the Great Commission is something we as Christians in the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, need to ponder, embrace and take forward into the world. The Great Commission isn’t something for other people or something that we can just trust the institutions of the church to work out, all of us as Christians should be actively involved in serving our neighbors and sharing the Gospel.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Bishop’s Note – The Dismissal

Bishop Eric Menees

Dear friends, this week we conclude our examination of the new Book of Common Prayer 2019 Service of Holy Eucharist ~ Standard Text. The service, following the blessing and closing hymn, concludes with the Deacon or Celebrant loudly proclaiming:

The Dismissal
The Deacon, or the Priest, may dismiss the people with these words
                       Let us go forth in the name of Christ.
People           Thanks be to God.
or this
Deacon          Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
People           Thanks be to God.
or this
Deacon         Let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.
People           Thanks be to God.
or this
Deacon         Let us bless the Lord.
People           Thanks be to God.

From the Easter Vigil through the Day of Pentecost “Alleluia, alleluia” is added to any of the dismissals. It may be added at other times, except during Lent and on other penitential occasions.
The People respond

                      Thanks be to God. Alleluia, Alleluia.

These dismissal statements make it clear that while our worship has ended our service has only just begun. And yet too often people think that after worship the primary focus is Coffee Hour. In fact, all of what we’ve done is, at least in part, in preparation to be sent into the world to serve our Lord and savior!

In fact, it’s about fulfilling the Great Commission. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Indeed, let us “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord!”

Saturday, June 1, 2019

The Ascension, The In-Between Times And Our ADLs

Homily Easter Seven Year C 2019

Fr. Dale Matson
Today in my homily, I will be talking about the Ascension of Christ. I also want to talk about the “In between times”: Our ADL’s.
In our collect today it states, “Grant, we pray, Almighty God, that as we believe your only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into heaven, so we may also in heart and mind there ascend, and with him continually dwell; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.” Amen.
Christ ascended into heaven forty days after Easter. Ascension Day is one of the seven Principal Feast Days in the church year and was celebrated last Thursday. Next Sunday is another of the seven Principal Feast Days.  It is the Day of Pentecost where the Holy Spirit descends on the Apostles and the Church is empowered to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. Until this point, the Apostles were spending a good deal of time behind a locked door in the upper room. They were obediently waiting but while they waited, there was no boldness, only fear. They had seen their resurrected Lord for forty days and then He ascended to Heaven. Christ told the Apostles to wait a few days in Jerusalem for empowerment by the Holy Spirit. He said they would receive a “baptism”.  This period of waiting did amount to a matter of days and this Sunday would be day three of ten. The in between time from Christ’s Ascension to Pentecost was ten days. While they waited, they were still fearful that they too would be arrested and suffer the same fate.
There is a repeated cycle of joy and sadness for the Apostles with the in between waiting times. In the story of Lazarus, Christ’s friends were happy to see Him but sad that He had not come sooner. While they awaited His arrival, their brother Lazarus died. Sometimes the waiting times were relatively brief like the resurrections of Lazarus and Christ. For us it is a much longer period of waiting as we await His second coming in glory.
Christ’s friends were sad that he was crucified and died and was buried in the tomb but filled with wonder that he arose from the dead. In the tomb account two men dressed in dazzling white clothing suddenly appear beside them. They were afraid and could not look at them. These men are Angels. Angels are messengers that appear at important times to explain to us what is happening. It is interesting to me that they explain things not by making a statement but by asking a question. “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”
In our reading from Acts Jesus issues the great commission, tells the apostles that they will receive empowerment from the Holy Spirit and ascends into heaven on a cloud. Again, the Angels are there to jolt the Apostles back to reality. They stood there watching Him ascend probably very dazed by the experience and feeling deserted once again. They probably kept looking long after Christ had disappeared from sight. Once again, two men dressed in white ask a question. “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky?” They are sad at His departure but given hope by the Angels. “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.” This statement by the Angel is somewhat of a puzzle but partially explained in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus prophesied about the future, “At that time the sign of the son of man will appear in the sky, and all of the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the son of man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.” This is a reference to the second coming of Christ as judge. He’s dead! He’s alive! He’s with us. He’s gone!
What a rollercoaster ride this must have been for His followers. What about the kingdom? I thought we were going to be made kings under your rule Lord. Before Christ ascended they actually asked, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” No, you are missing the point. The Kingdom of God is a spiritual state not a state in the material world. You are not going to be kings. You are going to be persecuted and die a similar death.
How much of your life has taken place in the “in between times”? How often has a situation seemed to drag on with no resolution and finding a resolution, how often does a new crisis bring with it a new in between time?
Paul was in an in between time too. He wanted to go to Heaven and be with Jesus but knew also that he was needed on this earth. He knew it would be better for him to go but better for us for him to stay. Aren’t we glad that he did stay long enough to write much of the New Testament?
We are not left comfortless during these in between times. Christ was born Christ died Christ will come again. The Holy Spirit is here to comfort us. He is here and even called the comforter and the counselor. He is the one called alongside as the advocate. He is that still small voice offering exhortation and encouragement. Listen to Him. Listen to Him in the silences between the background noises.
         It seems like the in between times for me has required me to again focus on the activities of daily living. They are often referred to simply as the ADL’s. While our hearts and minds are supposed to ascend to Heaven with Christ, our bodies however, remain here.
         The ADL’s are what occupy much of my thinking day by day. As you may know, I’ve had two hospitalizations already this year for different reasons. Not being ill is different than being in good health. Being in good health requires careful and informed self-care. Jesus was our model here. He was careful to see that the people who came to hear Him had enough to eat. He set aside time for prayer, fasting and solitude. He fellowshipped with and served His friends. His first miracle was to provide more wine at a wedding feast.
         We are fortunate to live in an era and location where we are only minutes away from help with our acute health care needs. However, that does not mean that we can ignore signals our bodies send us that there is a problem. Scotty, in the form of the Holy Spirit is in the engine room calling up to the bridge, “She can’t take anymore captain!”
         Jesus often referred to Himself as the bread of life (John 6:35), the water of life (John 4:14), the Prince of Peace (Ephesians 2:14a) and our place of rest. “Come unto me all you are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Bishop Schofield used to tell his priests that if they didn’t get enough rest, they were no better than adulterers since we are commanded by God to honor the Sabbath.
I now want to cover some of the things that I am learning and you may be dealing with also.
1.   One of the biggest threats to the health of our senior saints is dehydration. Are you drinking enough water? Proper hydration is necessary for our bodies that are about 50% water, to remain healthy. Dehydration can also lead to dizziness and falling and to high blood glucose levels.
2.   Are you getting enough sleep? Our bodies need between 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Research demonstrates that lack of adequate sleep means that the deep sleep needed for the body to repair itself does not take place. Lack of sleep raises anxiety levels, insulin, glucose, and keeps stress hormone levels elevated. Lack of sleep can also lead to depression and weight gain.
3.   There is a consensus among health care professionals that the most important contribution we can make to our own health is a healthy lifestyle and diet habits. That is first line prevention.
4.   A healthy lifestyle means moderate daily aerobic exercise. Of course, if you haven’t seen your primary care doctor in quite some time, it may be good to check with her or him first. Most insurance plans cover annual checkups.
5.   I want to talk about diet also. There are three kinds of food. Carbohydrate, Protein and Fat An entire generation was led to believe that we should aim for a high carbohydrate low fat diet. This has led to an epidemic of obesity when combined with larger portion sizes, Trans fatty acids, inactivity, processed foods and the use of high fructose corn syrup.
Morgan Spurlock did a documentary film about eating three meals per day at McDonald’s for one month. He gained 23 pounds and it took a psychological tole on him also. The documentary on the danger of fast foods was called “Supersize Me”.   
An estimated 160 million Americans are either obese or overweight. Nearly three-quarters of American men and more than 60% of women are obese or overweight. These are also major challenges for America's children – nearly 30% of boys and girls under age 20 are either obese or overweight, up from 19% in 1980.
What does this mean down the road? The incidence of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and type II diabetes will continue to increase apart from an aging population and in spite of billions of dollars spent on pills. Alzheimer’s Disease is now being referred to as type III diabetes because it is related to insulin resistance in the brain.
My mother died from Alzheimer’s Disease and my older sister was diagnosed with it 2 years ago. Both were type II diabetics.
What can you do about this? Inform yourself about proper nutrition and reduce your calories from carbohydrates. Additionally, there is the discipline of fasting. With my primary care physician’s blessing, I do what is called intermittent fasting. I am on a 16 hour fast 8 hour eating schedule. I also fast for 24 hours or 48 hours once a month. Father Carlos has covered at length the benefits of fasting from a spiritual and Scriptural perspective.
In my case that means I eat dinner at 5pm and breakfast at 9am. What happens when you fast for 16 hours between meals? During this time of fasting, insulin, glucose and cortisol levels are reduced. The body burns stored fat for fuel instead of glucose. Cell repair is enhanced, insulin resistance is reduced, those who are prediabetic are less likely to become type II diabetics, reduces oxidative stress and inflammation. Inflammation and insulin resistance are linked to many of our deadliest diseases. I use two important tools every day. I have a blood glucose meter and a blood pressure device. I include the results in my daily journal. The glycemic index and load of the foods you eat would surprise you. For example, there are more grams of carbohydrates in a banana (27) than a Hershey Bar (20).
A three day fast has also been demonstrated to boost stem cells and help heal the gut biome respectively. Hippocrates the father of medicine stated that all disease begins in the gut and we are only recently learning more about the gut/brain connection. If I may… put fasting in computer terms, fasting is like doing a hard reset to get the computer back to factory settings.
At St. James, we consider our church to be a house of prayer but, as St. Paul stated, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.” (1st Corinthians 6:19-20). The Manufacturer’s warranty of 3 score and 10 (70) is up for many of us. Thank God there is an extended warranty for all Christians purchased by the sacrificial blood of our Savior Jesus Christ.