Trinity Church Welcomes All through its "Big Red Doors" with Tibetan prayer flags flying in the wind. It would be hard to find a more diverse group of believers, used-to-be believers, and sort-of believers. Many of us were born into other religions and denominations, and have found ourselves to be part of the inclusiveness of God's love.
from the Greek phainein to bring to light, to cause to appear, to show; epiphainein to manifest, epiphainea appearance Latin epiphania. Epiphany n: a festival observed on January 6, commemorating the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles; an appearance of manifestation esp.of a divine being, a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something; an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking.
Christians celebrate today Christ’s Epiphany -- his shining-forth in the world. We can all celebrate the many ways in which divine light and truth shines forth in different religious traditions and in the events of our own life.
An astounding mystery is proclaimed today: two natures are made anew. The Divine becomes human: what God was, God remains; what God was not, God takes on, suffering neither confusion nor division. Alleluia!
Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery. It is a rapidly growing criminal industry second only to drug dealing. Human Trafficking involves the use of force, fraud and/or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor. Contrary to popular belief, by federal and state laws Human Trafficking does not require the movement of people across borders. You are encouraged to share these resources with your congregation and community to help bring awareness to this terrible crime.
God of compassion and justice, open our hearts to pray “Your kingdom come” with such passion that our lives become part of the answer to our prayer…so that you will is done on Earth as in heaven. Amen.
from the Sisters of the Holy Cross Intercession and Closing Prayer from World Vision prayers for Abolitionist Sunday
Martin Luther King, Jr., was born in 1929, the grandson and son of Baptist preachers. After his education at Boston University, he became pastor of a Baptist church in Montgomery, Alabama. There he confronted the entrenched racism that pervaded much of the United States at that time. In 1955 Rosa Parks famously refused to yield her seat on a bus to a white person. King joined with others in organizing the Montgomery bus boycott and became nationally prominent. In the following years, King traveled from city to city leading protests and demonstrations. King’s preaching was extraordinary in its impact. People of all races responded to King’s vision of a nation in which everyone would behold others as children of God, not defined by race. His last Sunday sermon was given in Washington National Cathedral on March 31, 1968. A few days later, he traveled to Memphis to take part in a sanitation workers’ strike. While in Memphis, he was assassinated.
This annual forty-day worldwide period of spiritual practice brings people of all faiths together in prayer and meditation for personal and planetary peace.
The inspiration for this work came out of a three-line Rumi poem:
Based on the success of the first Winter Feast in Idaho (2008), the interest that it generated across the globe, and the need for peace efforts at this time in our history, the founders decided to extend the outreach worldwide.
The confession of the disciple Simon Peter, “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” is a milestone in the Lord’s ministry, in the founding of the church, and in the history of humankind. On Peter’s confession of faith lay the foundation of a new world order. Peter was a simple fisherman of Galilee, rough and impetuous. Andrew, his brother, called him to follow Jesus. He soon grew very close and dear to the Lord and was one of the inner circle of Jesus’ companions. He was quick tempered and impulsive, given to bursts of enthusiasm and lulls of depression. At the Last Supper he swore he would die rather than forsake Jesus, but before daybreak denied him three times. Following the Resurrection, Peter emerged as leader of the more conservative disciples, strenuously opposing the baptism of Gentiles.
On this day we remember that all religions arise from the One Source and are different paths to that One who is known by various names. The importance of this day is emphasized in the Baha'i, Sufi, and Islamic traditions.
Under orders from the Emperor Diocletian, in 304, the giant politico-military machine of the Roman Empire went to work to rid itself of the troublesome subversives called Christians. Many children were the innocent victims of this efficient blood purge. Agnes of Rome is a famous example. She was reared a Christian, and though just a young teenager when the persecution began, Agnes wished to witness for the faith. A Roman official was attracted to her and might easily have saved her life. He offered her jewelry and many pleasant gifts if she would renounce the Lord and her parents and worship the Roman gods. Infatuated by the innocent girl, the official then attempted to seduce her. She resisted and he became enraged. He had her tortured and publicly stripped and abused. At the culmination of this hideous ordeal she was killed with a sword.
Vincent was a deacon in an early Christian church in Saragossa, Spain. He was a trusted friend and assistant of the bishop, Valerius. He was a very effective leader and therefore a prize catch for the Spanish governor, Dacian, who was implementing the Emperor Diocletian’s policy of persecution. Dacian’s agents used every means known to them to brainwash Vincent, since, if he gave up Christianity, it would surely result in the defection of others. Vincent was submitted to intensive argumentation, interrupted by excruciating tortures. He was beaten, chained, stretched on the rack, cooked on a gridiron, and the floor of his bare cell was covered with broken glass on which he had to walk and recline. Vincent did not renounce Christ or acknowledge the Roman deities. Finally the exhausted and mutilated saint was released, perhaps as an example to other Christians of what they might have to suffer. He died shortly after his release. But his steadfastness, far from discouraging other Christians, strengthened them in their determination to remain faithful to the Lord.
European-born religious leader, scholar, philosopher, and teacher whose friendship and participation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the civil-rights movement reminds us that social activism and justice concern us all.
Born in Hong Kong in 1907 and baptized as a student, Li Tim-Oi chose the name Florence in honor of Florence Nightingale (see August 12). In 1931 at the ordination of deaconesses, Florence Li Tim-Oi heard and responded a call to ordained ministry. After attending theological school, she was serving as a deacon in Macau when fighting intensified between Japan and China. There were no available priests to minister to Christians in the area, and so in 1944 the Bishop of Victoria ordained Florence as a priest. She served for the remainder of the war, but shortly after the war she voluntarily gave up her license to function as a priest. Among Anglicans her ordination was controversial, so she stepped down while the Communion was in discernment. She remained in China for many years, though she was forced to work in a factory during the years of the Cultural Revolution. Florence moved to Canada in her later years, and she served as a priest in Toronto. Finally, most Anglicans had come to support the ordination of women.
Paul has been called by some modern writers “the true founder of the church” and even “the first Christian.” Although we may reject such statements as exaggerations, they do reflect the enormous importance of this man in the development of our faith and our community in history. The occasion of Paul’s conversion has long been regarded as a major turning point in Christian history. He had been an enthusiastic Jew, a Pharisee, in fact, and had studied under one of the great rabbis of his day, Gamaliel. Paul advocated and witnessed the stoning of Stephen (see December 26) and was enroute to Damascus to assist in the further persecution of the Christians there when his dramatic conversion took place. From then on his life was totally devoted to the service of Christ, and especially to the conversion of non-Jewish people. His letters and the Book of Acts give us a wealth of information regarding his life and work. He founded churches in Philippi, Athens, Thessalonica, Corinth, and many other important cities of his day.
The commemoration of these three devout women follows directly on the observance of three of Paul’s male co-workers in the Lord. It is a reminder that though the first century was a patriarchal time from which we have very few women’s voices, the apostles and indeed the whole early church depended on women for sustenance, protection and support.
Lydia was Paul’s first European convert. She was a Gentile woman in Philippi who, like many others, was attracted to Judaism. As what the Jewish community called a “God-fearer” she was undoubtedly accorded respect by the Jewish community, but still would have been marginalized. Paul encountered her on a riverbank where she and a group of women had gathered for Sabbath prayers. Undoubtedly Paul preached his gospel of inclusiveness to them and Lydia “opened her heart” and, together with the whole household of which she was head, was baptized.
Phoebe was the apparent patroness of the Christian community in Cenchreae near Corinth. She is the first person mentioned in the long list of Paul’s beloved associates in Chapter 16 of Romans. Paul refers to her as a “sister”, as a “deacon” and as a “patroness” or “helper” of many. In other words, Paul includes her as part of his family in Christ and infers that she has housed and provided legal cover for the local church. Paul’s use of the word “deacon” should be used with caution since the diaconate as an order had not yet developed in the church, but it does suggest the kind of ministry out of which the notion of ordained deacons developed. It would not be too much to call her a “proto-deacon”.
Dorcas (Tabitha in Aramaic), was a revered disciple in Joppa who devoted herself to “good works and acts of charity.” When she fell ill and died, the community sent for Peter who came and after prayer, revived her (Acts 9:36-42). Though we have no record of the words of these three women, the apostolic testimony to their faith and their importance to the mission of the early church speaks for itself.
Perhaps the greatest of the many medieval theologians, Thomas was the son of a prominent Italian count. He joined the Dominican Order against the will of his family. He studied at Monte Cassino and at the Universities of Naples, Cologne, and Paris, earning a Master’s degree. Virtually his entire life was spent in teaching and writing. His greatest work was the Summa Theologica, a masterful systematic statement of doctrine. It was by no means an immediate success, but time has proven it to be one of the finest intellectual expositions of the Christian faith ever composed. Some three centuries after his death he was declared “Universal Teacher” to the church. He was particularly concerned about the relationship of faith and reason. He successfully reconciled the philosophy of Aristotle with Christian doctrine.
John Bosco was an Italian Roman Catholic priest of the Latin Church, educator and writer of the 19th century. While working in Turin, where the population suffered many of the effects of industrialization and urbanization, he dedicated his life to the betterment and education of street children, juvenile delinquents, and other disadvantaged youth.
Samuel Shoemaker was a priest of the Episcopal Church. He was the rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in New York City, the United States headquarters of the Oxford Group during the 1930s. Sam Shoemaker and Oxford Group were significant influences for the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill Wilson attended Oxford Group meetings at the Calvary Church, and Sam Shoemaker also helped start an Oxford Group chapter in Akron, Ohio, where Dr. Bob Smith became involved.
Shoemaker's contributions and service to Alcoholics Anonymous have had a worldwide effect. The philosophy that Shoemaker codified, in conjunction with Bill Wilson, is used in almost every country around the world to treat alcoholism. , Similar programs are used to help relatives of alcoholics, as well as people suffering with other addictions such as to narcotics.
Candlemas in Europe, New Year's Day for the Chinese and Aztecs, and Groundhog's Day in America all fall in early February alongside St. Brigid's February 1st Feast Day, a time of purification, blessing, and reawakened creativity.
Brigid was probably born at Faughart near Dundalk, Louth, Ireland. Her parents were baptized by St. Patrick, with whom she developed a close friendship. Irish hagiography makes her an early Irish Christian nun] abbess, and founder of several monasteries of nuns, including that of Kildare in Ireland, which was considered legendary and was highly revered. Her feast day is 1 February, formerly celebrated as the Imbolc quarter-day of the pagan Irish year, which marked the beginning of spring, lambing, lactation in cattle.
St. Brigid, Abbess of Kildaire, lived in a time when Celtic spirituality shifted into a more hidden form as patriarchal Christian traditions gained power. Brigid's own name is that of the Celtic sun goddess, and the stories surrounding the saint -- called "The Mary of the Gael" -- helped keep alive the maternal face of God.
Legend tells us that, when asked to explain Christianity, she gathered rushes and made from them what is known as "St. Brigid's Cross."
Did the Groundhog see his shadow today? If so, those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, according to tradition, are due for six more weeks of winter.
An old English poem lays the groundwork for this holiday:
Ancient Jewish custom prescribed that a woman who had borne a male child should, forty days after giving birth, come to the temple to be “purified” (Leviticus 12). Furthermore, it was customary to present publicly every firstborn male child to God in the temple (Exodus 13:2, 12). Therefore, Mary and Joseph went up to the temple for her Purification and Jesus’ Presentation. In the temple, to everyone’s surprise, a devout old man, Simeon, who was full of the Holy Spirit and “waiting for the consolation of Israel,” took the infant Jesus in his arms and praised God in the words of the now familiar Nunc dimittis. In this canticle Simeon proclaimed Jesus “a Light to enlighten the nations.” For this reason, in medieval times the Nunc dimittis was sung and candles were blessed and lit and carried in procession through the streets on the night of this feast. It is still called “Candlemas” in England, and the ancient “Feast of Lights” is still sometimes observed in connection with this occasion.
Candlemas primarily focuses on Jesus’ early life. Many Christians believe that Jesus’ mother Mary presented him to God at the Temple in Jerusalem after observing the traditional 40-day period of purification (of mothers) following his birth. According to a New Testament gospel, a Jewish man named Simeon held the baby in his arms and said that he would be a light for the Gentiles (Luke 2:32). It is for this reason that this event is called Candlemas.
Many people believe that some of Candlemas’ activities stem from pagan observances such as Imbolc, a Gaelic festival, or the Roman feast of Lupercalia. However, others have argued that there is too little evidence to shed light on Candlemas’ substitution for these festivals. Either way, Candlemas occurs at a period between the December solstice and the March equinox, so many people traditionally marked that time of the year as winter’s “halfway point” while waiting for the spring.
According to some sources, Christians began Candlemas in Jerusalem as early as the fourth century and the lighting of candles began in the fifth century. Other sources say that Candlemas was observed by blessing candles since the 11th century. An early writing dating back to around 380 CE mentioned that a feast of the Presentation occurred in a church in Jerusalem. It was observed on February 14. The feast was observed on February 2 in regions where Christ's birth was celebrated on December 25.
Candlemas is known as the “Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple” in many eastern churches. Other traditional names in the western churches include the “Feast for the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary” as well as the “Meeting of the Lord”. It is also Groundhog Day in the United States and Canada on February 2. According to folklore, the badger comes out to test the weather in the United Kingdom.
Snowdrops (galanthas nivalis) are known as Candlemas Bells because they often bloom early in the year, even before Candlemas. Some varieties bloom all winter (in the northern hemisphere). The superstitious used to believe that these flowers should not be brought into the house prior to Candlemas. However, it is also believed in more recent times that these flowers purify a home.
According to folklore, an angel helped these Candlemas bells to bloom and pointed them as a sign of hope to Eve, who wept in repentance and in despair over the cold and death that entered the world. Many Christians see the flower as a symbol of Jesus Christ being this hope for the world. Candles that are lit during Candlemas also symbolize Jesus as the "light of the world".
The Dorchester Chaplains: Lieutenant George Fox, Lieutenant Alexander D. Goode, Lieutenant Clark V. Poling and Lieutenant John P. Washington, 1943. The Four Chaplains, also sometimes referred to as the "Immortal Chaplains" or the "Dorchester Chaplains" were four United States Army chaplains who gave their lives to save other civilian and military personnel as the troop ship SS Dorchester sank on February 3, 1943, during World War II. They helped other soldiers board lifeboats and gave up their own life jackets when the supply ran out. The chaplains joined arms, said prayers, and sang hymns as they went down with the ship.
Anskar, Archbishop of Hamburg, Missionary to Denmark and Sweden, 865.This Saxon monk of Corbie, France, was one of the first Christian missionaries to the notorious Vikings. Most of the descendants of the Vikings are today's Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians. However, a significant Viking strain entered England through the Danelaw and the Norman Conquest. Anskar established the first Christian school in Denmark, but was soon run out by local heathens. Undiscouraged, he moved on to Sweden where he founded that country's first Christian church in about 832. His interest in the Vikings did not wane when he accepted a call as bishop of Hamburg in Germany. He continued to initiate missions, especially in Sweden. It was not until long after his death that Sweden became a Christian country, but he had sown the seeds of her conversion, and it is for this reason that he is highly honored in Sweden to this day. The Church of England has enjoyed centuries of happy relations with the Scandinavian churches, especially with the Church of Sweden. The Episcopal Church in America includes "Old Swedes" churches, established by the Church of Sweden in colonial times. The feast of Anskar provides an appropriate occasion to thank God for the gift of friendship among Swedish, English, and American Christians.
Roger Williams was an English Puritan theologian who was an early proponent of religious freedom and the separation of church and state. He was expelled by the Puritan Leaders because they thought he was spreading "new and dangerous ideas", so in 1636, he began the colony of Providence Plantation, which provided a refuge for religious minorities. Williams was a member of the first Baptist church in America, the First Baptist Church of Providence. Williams was also a student of Native American languages, an early advocate for fair dealings with Native Americans, and arguably the first abolitionist in North America, having organized the first attempt to prohibit slavery in any of the British American colonies.
One of the most highly venerated virgin martyrs of Christian antiquity, Agatha was put to death during the persecution of Decius (250–253) in Catania, Sicily, for her steadfast profession of faith.
According to Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda Aurea of ca. 1288, having dedicated her virginity to God, fifteen-year-old Agatha, from a rich and noble family, rejected the amorous advances of the low-born Roman prefect Quintianus, who then persecuted her for her Christian faith. He sent Agatha to Aphrodisia, the keeper of a brothel.
The madam finding her intractable, Quintianus sends for her, argues, threatens, and finally has her put in prison. Amongst the tortures she underwent was the cutting off of her breasts with pincers. After further dramatic confrontations with Quintianus, represented in a sequence of dialogues in her passio that document her fortitude and steadfast devotion. Saint Agatha was then sentenced to be burnt at the stake, but an earthquake saved her from that fate; instead, she was sent to prison where St. Peter the Apostle appeared to her and healed her wounds. Agatha is the patron saint of bell-founders because of the shape of her severed breasts, and also of bakers, whose loaves were blessed at her feast day. More recently, she has been venerated as patron saint of breast cancer patients.
(1597) Japan was first introduced to Christianity by Francis Xavier, a great Roman Catholic missionary. For nearly half a century the churches he founded flourished and grew. Finally, the Japanese government became alarmed at the spread of Christianity, which they regarded as a cloak for subversive activity by foreigners. Christianity was made illegal, and to show that the authorities meant business, six missionaries and twenty Japanese Christians were publicly crucified in Nagasaki.
But this was only the beginning. For the next 250 years, any Japanese people who were found to be practicing Christianity were subject to the death penalty. Through the years many thousands died rather than forsake Christ. At last the ban was lifted in 1859. Christian missionaries again entered Japan (see December 2). To their astonishment they discovered several secret Christian communities still surviving, without priests and with very little education, but still keeping the faith in a most admirable manner, as they had through centuries of persecution.
Some felt that the Christ had come to the Jews alone and that one must first become a Jew in order to become a Christian. Cornelius was a Gentile and a centurion (an officer in the Roman Army) stationed at Caesarea. He was widely respected among the Jews, not only because of his important position but also because he gave liberally to the poor and "honored God as they did." He was called "upright and God-fearing." He learned of Jesus Christ from the Apostle Peter, received the Holy Spirit, and was baptized. It was Cornelius' profession of faith that led Peter to exclaim, "God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean". God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him." Perhaps the testimony of Cornelius would be helpful to those in our own time who see Christianity as a purely cultural thing. He is a fitting patron for the career soldier.
** This prayer is offer for Victims of Violence throughout of the world. Victims of verbal, physical, emotional, of hunger and thirst,economic abuse,warfare (especially Ukraine, Venezuela, parts of Africa, South America Asia and the Middle East, terrorist action, the death penalty, suicide, shootings (in our cities and neighborhoods), and other guise of violence. May their souls rest in peace and their families experience the Comfort of God. The Church bells will toll on Wednesdays @ 6:10pm.
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Epiphany 2-Guest Preacher from First Friends
Epiphany 3- Eucharist
Epiphany 5 –Eucharist
Epiphany 6 –Eucharist