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Archive for May 2nd, 2019

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.

Readings: Acts 20:19-35   Psalm 71:1-8  2 Corinthians 4:5-14  St. Matthew 10:23-32

Athanasius was born in Alexandria in Egypt in A.D. 295. He served as a church leader in a time of great controversy and ecclesiastical disagreements. At the Council of Nicaea in 325, he defended Christian orthodoxy against the proponents of the Arian heresy, which denied the full divinity of Jesus Christ. During his 45-year tenure as bishop of Alexandria, Athanasius wrote numerous works that defended the orthodox teaching. His enemies had him exiled five times; on two occasions he was almost murdered. Yet Athanasius remained steadfast and ended his days restored fully to his church responsibilities. The Athanasian Creed, though not composed by Athanasius, is named in his honor because it confesses the doctrinal orthodoxy he championed throughout his life.

Athanasius was exiled 5 times by his enemies!  I was told to leave one congregation once and that was enough for me.  Athanasius stood steadfast in the truth of Christ. The meaning of  Athanasius standing firm is important for us today as C. S. Lewis makes clear, from his introduction to On the Incarnation by the saint:

“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.”

Maybe the major difference between the 4th Century and today is the cyber-speed by which these days “those ‘sensible’ synthetic religions” come and go.  We are reaping the whirlwind and are living in the extreme weather of the zeitgeist.  The sure side of being on the “right side of history”, per Athanasius, is that the world will be against you. Athanasius only wanted to be on the right side of God and His Word and that put him on the wrong side of ‘history’, actually, his culture and society. (I think the “right side of history” saying is just a smokescreen to hide the fact that those employing that cliche are hiding their heresies and immoralities.) The world wants to mold the saving doctrine to fit it’s agendas so the Word is nothing.  Yet, the Word of the Lord abides forever no thanks to foes who hate it. The commemoration of saints, as Athanasius, help us to stand firm.  It could also be said of this saint, Luther Contra Mundum!

Lord, keep us steadfast in your Word;
Curb those who by deceit or sword
Would wrest the kingdom from your Son
And bring to nought all he has done. (Luther)

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