Collect of the Day
Almighty God, your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of wisdom, and to another the word of knowledge, and to another the word of faith. We praise you for the gifts of grace imparted to your servant Athanasius, and we pray that by his teaching we may be led to a fuller knowledge of the truth which we have seen in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
2 Corinthians 4:5-14
St. Matthew 10:23-32
About Athanasius, Church Father:
- Athanasius was an Egyptian by birth and a Greek by eduction
- His parents were both Christians and wealthy and Athanasius received both a solid secular and catholic (Christian) education in the city of Alexandria, Egypt. Alexandria was a city noted for it’s learning and it’s martyrs.
- Athanasius lived during the most horrible of the persecutions of the Church under Diocletius, and then Maximin, from when Athanasius was 5 till he was 14, when it finally ended in Egypt 311.
- During the time of the persecution, many Alexandrian Christians fled to the desert and thus some began monasteries. The most known of the monks was Anthony. Athanasius knew him and eventually wrote Anthony’s biography.
- He was a teenager when the Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in 313 making Christianity a legal religion in the Empire.
- But after about six years after the Edict, a bishop, Arius, began teaching that there was a time, “…when Christ was not”, thus denying Biblical, catholic and orthodox doctrine.
- But before the onslaught of the Arian heresy, Athanasius wrote two small books: Against the Heathen, in which he refutes contemporary paganism (please note: paganism was in it’s pure form at that time, without heretics mixing in Christianity) and the demonstration of the possibility of the knowledge of God by the human soul. The second one, On the Incarnation of the Word of God, was on Word made flesh. “It is not speculative, it is not original…not even controversial”, because Arius had not yet started down the wrong path. The photo above and the quotes below are from this volume, available at St. Vladimir’s Press. This edition features an introduction by none other than C. S. Lewis.
- Athanasius was present at the Council of Nicaea as a non-voting Deacon.
- He was ordained in 328 as Bishop.
- Athanasius lived his whole life in Alexandria except for the five times he was forced into exile for his preaching and teaching. He stood alone for the Faith delivered to saints once for all (Jude 1:3). Yet,he was known by his contemporaries as a kind and gentle man, of great education and humility. He was short of stature.
- His name is associated with the third creed of the Church, confessed in The Book of Concord, the Athanasian Creed, though most likely he did not write it, nevertheless the creed is a solid reflection of Christian and orthodox theology as taught by the saint.
- In 356, Anthony died at the age of 105. The desert monks gave support for their brother, Athanasius, especially when he went into exile.
- After the fifth exile, Athanasius had seven years of fruitful peace in his labors as a pastor and theologian.
- He died on this date in 373 as Patriarch of Alexandria.
St. Athanasius has suffered in popular estimation from a certain sentence in the “Athanasian Creed”….the words “Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly” are the offence. They are commonly misunderstood. The operative word is keep; not acquire, or even believe, but keep. The author, in fact, is not about unbelievers but deserters, not about those who have never heard-of Christ, nor even those who have understood and refused to accept Him, but those really believed, then allow themselves, under the sway of sloth or fashion or any other invited confusion to be drawn away into sub-Christian modes of thoughts. They are a warning against the curious modern assumption that all changes of belief, however brought about, are necessarily exempt from blame…
His epitaph is Athanasius contra mundum, “Athanasius against the world.” We are proud that our own country has more than once stood against the world. Athanasius did the same. He stood for the Trinitarian doctrine, “whole and undefiled,” when it looked as if all the civilised world was slipping back from Christianity into the religion of Arius—into one of those “sensible” synthetic religions which are so strongly recommended today and which, then as now, included among their devotees many highly cultivated clergymen. It is his glory that he did not move with the times; it is his reward that he now remains when those times, as all times do, have moved away.
Quotes from On the Incarnation:
- “The Savior is working mightily among men, every day He is invisibly persuading numbers of people all over the world, both within and beyond the Greek-speaking world, to accept His faith and be obedient to His teaching. Can anyone, in face of this, still doubt that He has risen and lives, or rather that He is Himself the Life? Does a dead man prick the consciences of men, so that they throw all the traditions of their fathers to the winds and bow down before the teaching of Christ? If He is no longer active in the world, as He must needs be if He is dead, how is that He makes the living to cease from their activities, the adulterer for his adultery, the murderer from murdering, the unjust from avarice, while the profane and godless man becomes religious? If He did not rise, but is still dead, how is it that He routs and persecutes and overthrows the false gods, whom unbelievers think to be alive, and the evil spirits whom they worship? For where Christ is named, idolatry is destroyed and the fraud of evil spirits is exposed; indeed, no such spirit can endure that Name, but takes to flight on sound of it. This is the work of One Who lives, not of one dead; and, more than that, it is the work of God.
- “For of what use is existence to the creature if it cannot know its Maker?”
- “….it was our sorry case that caused the Word to come down, our transgression that called out His love for us, so that He made haste to help us and to appear among us. It is we who were the cause of His taking human form, and for our salvation that in His great love He was both born and manifested in a human body.”
- “How could He have called us if He had not been crucified, for it is only on the cross that a man dies with arms outstretched?”
- “He deals with them (“them”=us! Please note: by this time in his book, Athanasius has portrayed Biblically and correctly man as an idolater, Romans 1, doomed to death on account of sin and disobedience and so the sheer wonder of the Incarnation-Pr. Schroeder) as a good teacher with his pupils, coming down to their level and using simple means. St. Paul says as much: “Because in the wisdom of God the world in its wisdom knew not God, God. thought fit through the simplicity of the News proclaimed to save those who believe.” (1 Cor. 1: 23) I Men had turned from the contemplation of God above, and were looking for Him in , the opposite direction, down among created things and things of sense. The Saviour of us all, the Word of God, in His great love took to Himself a body and moved as Man among men, meeting their senses, so to speak, halfway.”
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COLLECT OF THE DAY
Almighty God, Your Son revealed Himself to Philip and James and gave them the knowledge of everlasting life. Grant us perfectly to know Your Son, Jesus Christ, to be the way, the truth, and the life, and steadfastly to walk in the way that leads to eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Psalm 36:5-12 (antiphon: v. 8) Ephesians2:19-22
From Festivals and Commemorations by Rev. Philip Pfatteicher:
Philip was born in Bethsaida, the same fishing village on the shores of Galilee from which Peter and Andrew came. He was one of the first disciples to follow Jesus, and brought Nathanael ( sometimes identified with Bartholomew) to the Lord ( John1:43-51). Apart from his own calling, the story of Nathanael, and mention along with the other Apostles, the only other incidents of his life recorded in the Gospels are the occasion when some Greeks came to him to ask his help in getting an interview with Jesus ( John 12:20-22) and the time Jesus asked Philip how they would be able to feed the crowds ( John 6:5-7).
According to tradition, after Pentecost Philip went first to Scythia to preach the Gospel, where he was remarkably successful, and then to Phrygia where he stayed until his death. He is said to have met his death in the town ofHierapolisinPhrygia(in modern Turkey), according to some accounts by crucifixion and stoning. Traditions also tell of Philip’s two unmarried daughters who survived him, lived to an old age, and were also buried in Hierapolis.
James the son of Alphaeus is usually called James the Less (meaning either “short” or “younger”) to distinguish him from James the Elder, the brother of John, and from James of Jerusalem, the brother of the Lord. The only mention of James in the Scriptures, apart from his name in the apostolic lists, is the statement that his mother Mary was one of those present at the crucifixion (Matt. 27:55 and Mark 15:40), which also tells us that he had a brother named Joseph or the Greek form of the name, Joses.
May 1 has been kept as the feast day of St. Philip and St. James since 561 when on that date the supposed remains of the two saints were interred in the Church of the Apostles in Rome. To counteract the effects of the twentieth-century dedication of May 1 to the working classes and socialism, Pope Pius XII made May 1 the Feast of St, Joseph the Worker, and shifted the feast of Philip and James to May 11. The new Roman calendar commemorates the two apostles on May 3. Lutherans and Anglicans have retained the traditional date.
Today is May Day. I think it was a celebration of spring time, as in, dancing around the May pole. I would dare say that is a distant cultural memory. But it was the Communists, especially in the Soviet Union that every year would observe May Day with displays of militarism in their official virulent atheism…an atheism by way that is becoming stronger in our day.
I was reminded of this as I read Rev. Pfatteicher’s bio on Philip and the Roman Catholic Church’s noble efforts to fight it by moving St. Joseph, the Worker to May 1st. But this traditional date for Philip and James is so understated, as is St. Joseph, and it’s meaning will undo virulent atheism with virtuous faith and love in the Savior. What was the main deed that Philip is remembered? He brought people to Jesus. That’s all…and that’s enough. The Soviets believed in salvation without God…as today’s atheists. Life on our own terms. Many want a Messiah to be, “…sovereign of the world. IN reality, He was to become the Savior of the world.” (Luther) For anyone reading this of a certain age, the picture above is also a distant cultural memory: thank God! Quietly, Philip told Nathaniel: Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46Nathanael said to him, ”Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Come and see…in a place of no importance in Biblical, world or cultural history till then, Nazareth. In the night in which He was betrayed John reports this conversation between Philip and the Lord in the Gospel for today, John 14:
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9Jesus said to him, ”Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
And Philip had seen nothing yet. He would see the Son upon the Cross and the Father’s love pouring out from His Son’s veins for Philip, for me and for thee. His Cross stands over the wrecks of time. We look for the Lord in all the wrong places, the places agreeable to us, bristling with power and beauty, but then we only find a divine double of ourselves but it is the Lord who says where He will be found and it’s at first not agreeable to us and that place is always the Cross (Bonhoeffer).
Philip, James, Nathanael…no power players on the world’s stage but in the Kingdom, great indeed because they brought people to the Savior who loved them from the foundation of the world. This is still the way of Jesus Christ in the midst of the other false saviors. And you might be part of someone’s divine blessedness with a simple invite to “Come and see”.
Posted in Baptism, Bible, Church, Church year, Evangelization, Festivals and Commemorations, forgiveness, Gospel, Justification | Tagged Evangelization, saints, Saints Philip and James | Leave a Comment »
The burden of yesterday is shaken off by glorifying the misty past, and tomorrow’s task is evaded by speaking rather of the coming millennium. Nothing makes a permanent impression and nothing imposes a lasting obligation. A sign of the deep forgetfulness of the present time is the film which is erased from the viewer’s memory as soon as it is over.
Text: St. John 16: When the Spirit of truth comes,he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
In my junior year of high school, my father was transferred from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Washington, D.C. And all of a sudden a whole bunch of relatives wanted to come for a visit! During the summer, I became my family’s tour guide to our nation’s capitol. I like being a tour guide. Our Lord uses an interesting word to describe the Holy Spirit’s work, translated as “guide” literally “to lead along the road”, that is, kind of like a tour guide. I have been tour guide here for friends and family and I want people in Lexington to see VMI, W and L, Lee Chapel, the VMI museum etc., that is the high lights. Years ago when I went on a college trip to Eastern Europe including the then Soviet Union, in Russia we had a tour guide for the entire time from the Intourist state bureau and only what that dictatorship wanted us to see. First, it is helpful in another country to have someone who know the language in order to get along. In Russia, the tour guide wanted us to see as well the highlights of the Soviet Empire, which meant in Moscow the sights of the czars. In doing so, a tour guide will teach you about the land in which they are so proud and pleased to live in. A tour guide thinks he is telling the whole truth about her native land. Therefore, Russia or here, no tour guide is going to show you the low lights of a town or city or nation. Oh, here is where all the poor people live. This is the abortion clinic. Over there is where prostitution is rampant. Here in this house there was a gruesome murder. The old Adam does not like the whole truth, in fact, he cannot take the truth but the Lord, like a good teacher, persists in His grace for us all.
Back to the Lord, the Holy Spirit. The Lord said that the Spirit of truth tour-guides you into all the truth. The truth is both principle and person that is respectively, both Law and Gospel, the Word of God. The principle is the 10 Commandments, the guide of right and wrong which shows us when we have strayed off the right path and what the right path is.
and a light to my path. (Psalm 119: 105)
The person is the Word made flesh Jesus Christ who fulfilled the Law by which we know we were lost, afraid, and dead in our sin, at our wit’s end, a dead end. He became lost for our sake, crucified, dead and buried and risen to find us, as He found the disciples. He cried out in dereliction, My God, my God why have you forsaken me? Sin is death and no tour guide in this world will ever show you this sight and teach you this. The Holy Spirit does as He points the crucifixion of the Author of Life. Jesus said I am the Way, the Road, the path. His crucifixion is where and when the Holy Spirit will always guide us where in perfect freedom Jesus Christ went to die, to lay down His life, to take it up again. The lowest of the low lights in all history is where the depths of God’s love was poured out for us all.
Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. IN the Gospel, Jesus is teaching in the night in which He was betrayed. He is going; He gently tells the disciples who do not know His way. Also us. They will not see Him, and then they will. The disciples did not yet realize that outside the Upper Room, a storm unlike any other in the history of world was brewing. The Lord knows this. The Lord knows His disciples will grieve and then they will see Him again. He also tells them they will be given the Lord, the Holy Spirit, the tour guide into all the truth, the low lights of sin, death and the power of the devil, and the highlights of grace, mercy and peace in Jesus Christ.
The tour guide, the Holy Spirit, unlike a human tour guide, will show you all the sights, high and low. The Lord has been doing such from the get go: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Creation is definitely a highlight! The Holy Spirit spoke by the prophets from Moses to Malachi preaching the Word of God to a wayward Israel in its depths, so that we too may be guided by the Lord. He filled Saul and David to rule according to the Word of God, but when David committed adultery and was ruled by his sin, the Holy Spirit showed him his sin through Nathan the prophet so David repented. His Law shows that the Lord goes not forget sin and through Jesus Christ, His Gospel forgives sinners. The Lord, the Holy Spirit, has a guidebook, the Bible. St. Paul wrote to Timothy regarding this guidebook:
“…continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3)
The Lord guided you Timothy by His Word growing up with the goal always of your salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. He taught you out of His guide Book from the time you were born. His guide Book is replete with the journeys and travels of the narratives of the frailties and fears, faith and hope, repentance and forgiveness of people like you and me. The Holy Spirit warns: “Bridge out!” “Detour”, “Dead-end”, “Wrong Way”. He exhorts, This way, the one Way. Through it all and now in the fullness of Jesus Christ, the Lord the Holy Spirit declares all that Jesus taught and did, and shows us the things to come, the new heavens and the new earth. A tour guide is particularly important in a foreign country: he can speak the language. The Holy Spirit is well versed in the language of the Kingdom of God that we hear in “…our own tongues the mighty works of God” (Acts 2). Through His Word, the Holy Spirit who inspired this Book will equip us for freedom in Jesus Christ in faith, not to go my way, which is death, but His way, which is eternal life. Along His way we meet people groping in the darkness, they too need the guidance of His Word, His forgiveness. For the way is always marked by the Cross-, the signpost of freed travelers. How can you tell who the tour guide is in a city in the midst of his fellow travelers? Easy: the tour guide is holding up an umbrella, a sign, a flag for the group to see and follow. The Holy Spirit lifts high the Cross of Christ for all to see and so follow our Lord! St. Paul wrote to the Galatians that he portrayed the Crucifixion of Christ as if he, in effect put in on a billboard to see, so we know the Way (Galatians 3:1) We cannot find our way without a guide and we have one, and the Holy Spirit is all truth, a compass, lodestar, a non-failing GPS. His Word in His words is “trustworthy and true” and His Word is solid and certain, as solid and certain as the nails in His hands which finally could not hold Him: Jesus Christ.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Week ago Saturday I went to the Scots/Irish Festival at Rockbridge high school. There was a shepherd demonstrating the use of sheep dogs in herding his sheep. The dogs instantaneously obeyed his verbal commands. If he said lie down, all the dogs laid down. They knew his voice, his word. Then he said that when he disciplines his dogs he never, ever uses his hand. He used his cap and showed us by a slight hit on his dog’s head. The shepherd explained that the reason he never uses his hand because he wants his sheep dogs to associate his hand with care and guidance, not punishment.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
The Lord’s hand is powerful to save. In His hand is His Law. The alien work of His Law and Judgment, more powerful than a cap, shows us our sin and His anger against sin. Sin is death. No one in this world would ever make that correct equation. He drives and draws us to His proper work, to bring us to Himself, the Good Shepherd and to fear no evil in His grace, mercy and peace. He draws us to Himself as the Lord also drives away those who would come in to terrorize the flock. The whole purpose of the shepherd’s use of sheepdogs is to bring the sheep to the shepherd, no less the Lord. And to protect the flock from the thief and the fierce wolves.
The shepherd uses a foreign object to discipline his sheepdogs. The Lord comes not to destroy His sheep, but to call them and He warns us and disciplines us by His Law to show us when and where we go astray. If the shepherd in his demonstration at the festival did not have a staff, nor his sheepdogs, what would happen to the sheep? “All we like sheep have gone astray, everyone to his own way”. His Law and His judgment like the shepherd’s cap is alien to His nature. His true nature is He gives to His flock “eternal life”. He wants us to know that by His all-powerful hand, He guides and cares for us. He leads ever us to the evergreen pastures of His Word and washes His flock, lamb and sheep, in the still waters of His baptism. “All we like sheep have gone astray, everyone to his own way…but the verse continues, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. The Good Shepherd’s hand is imprinted with the mark of the nails. This shepherd laid down His life for the sheep, for you. King David was first a shepherd as a lad. I do not think even King David when a shepherd would have laid down his life for his bleating, needy sheep. The Good Shepherd has. Like a sheep on a shepherd’s shoulder, you do not have to lug your sins around or pretend they do not exist or minimize their infection. They are on the Good shepherd’s shoulders as He was nailed to the Cross. Jesus is quite clear, He is not any shepherd. He and His Father are one, one God. He alone has carried the full brunt of the just Law of God and it’s punishment for our sake.
He has authority to lay down His life, He has the authority to take it up again. He has the authority to say on the Cross: It is finished, the lamb of God who is the Good Shepherd. Lamb to take away the sin of the world, the Good shepherd to guide His Church, true man and God. . AS the apostle Paul encouraged the Ephesian elders, that is the pastors, care for the flock, His church that the Lord purchased with His own blood. Jesus knew that thieves would come into the flock. They come to kill and destroy and hired hands flee. Paul says the fierce wolves will teach “twisted things”. Thieves and wolves wreak havoc and terror on a flock. We saw a whole city hide indoors as terror stalked and skulked in the streets. We would also be afraid and rightly so. But also us to be afraid of those who with soothing words are actually words of terror: it’s all right what you are doing, feel good about yourselves when the commandments are being broken. Sheep can get lost through sheer negligence and wandering away from the Lord’s vigilance. The Good Shepherd’s vigilance is so there will not be the necessity of vengeance. Fierce wolves who teach twisted things, perverted things about the goodness of greed, the self at all cost, the denial of marriage and family, your body is a sexual playground, all the while bearing the Name of Christ. As Christ also taught, these are false prophets, wolves in sheep’s clothing. Our protection? “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” His protection is His table. At the previous pastors’ Bible study we discussed again the way the Lord could manifest Himself in a locked room. Pastor Carr said the answer is simple. One of his seminary profs said the Lord could so appear, manifest Himself because He was already there. The Lord promised, where two or three are gathered together in My Name, I am there. Now, we walk by faith, not by sight. The Good Shepherd is present in His Word as He promised. He protects by the table of His Word. Martin Luther commented on Psalm 23:
When one has the Word and in faith clings to it firmly, these enemies, who otherwise are invincible, must all yield and let themselves be taken captive. It is, however, a wonderful victory and power, also a very proud and haughty boast on the part of the believers, that they may compel and conquer all these horrible and, as it were, almighty enemies — not by raging, biting, resisting, striking back, avenging, seeking counsel and help here and there, but by eating, drinking, rejoicing, sitting, being happy, and resting. All of this, as we have said, is accomplished through the Word. For in Scripture “eating and drinking” means believing and clinging firmly to the Word; and from this proceed peace, joy, comfort, strength, and the like.
From the youngest to the oldest, all are to eat and drink His Word, some it will be milk, others solid food, but all need to hear,eat and drink, God’s word, the pasture of His eternal life. When Jesus was threatened with being stoned to death for His Word that He and the Father are one. (Note: it was not for His good deeds, but the good creed: Christians were and are not hunted down and killed for good deeds, but the good creed), At the end of chapter 10 the Lord went beyond the Jordan where John baptized. There the Lord taught and many came to Him and believed. Where He is there is His Church, His Flock, His Temple. Walking wet in our Baptism is what this world needs in these times of terror, His Word. We do not need more raging, biting, resisting, striking back, avenging, seeking counsel and help here and there, in the courts of public opinion. In the courts of the Lord’s house, not in the portico of the Temple, but in the Temple Himself, the Word Made Flesh, the Lamb and the Shepherd and His Scripture and Sacraments, has He prepared His Table. One day, maybe above the Table of the Lord, from the grandest cathedral to a mobile one, He was always there will manifest Himself for the last time in glory on the Day of Judgment, the Lamb upon His Throne. Come, Lord Jesus, come.