Sunday, May 26, 2013

Trinity Sunday and Quote of the Day

from the Archives...

The Sunday following Pentecost/Whitsunday is the celebration of the Holy Trinity. Trinity Sunday is a celebration of just one day, and the liturgical color is white, symbolizing the purity and sinlessness of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Now that the Holy Spirit has arrived on the scene to complete the Trinity, Ordinary Time shall begin starting next week, stretching over twenty-some weeks to Advent in late November to early December. Nearly half of the Church Year consists of Ordinary Time for which the liturgical color is green, symbolizing the continual growth of our faith as we follow Christ and endeavor to become more like Jesus. During Ordinary Time, the weeks are counted as being "after Trinity": the First Sunday after Trinity, the fourteenth Sunday after Trinity, etc.

But today we celebrate Trinity Sunday. The website Church Year explains:
Trinity Sunday, officially "The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity," is one of the few feasts of the Christian Year that celebrates a reality and doctrine rather than an event or person. On Trinity Sunday we remember and honor the eternal God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Trinity Sunday is celebrated the Sunday after Pentecost, and lasts only one day, which is symbolic of the unity of the Trinity. The Eastern Churches have no tradition of Trinity Sunday, arguing that they celebrate the Trinity every Sunday. Westerners do as well, although they set aside a special feast day for the purpose.

The Collect from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer:
Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity; We beseech thee that thou wouldest keep us stedfast in this faith, and evermore defend us from all adversities, who livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen.

For the Epistle today, the 1928 BCP requires the reading of the fourth chapter of Revelation; you may read it here in the English Standard Version: Rev 4 ESV.

The Gospel reading for Trinity Sunday is written in the third chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John, the first verse through the fifteenth. You may read it here, again in the ESV: John 3:1-15.

Today is also the Feast of Title for two churches in the San Diego area, both of which have removed themselves from the liberal San Diego Episcopal Diocese and have put themselves under the authority of Biblical leadership: Holy Trinity in Ocean Beach (part of the city of San Diego) and Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity in Alpine, thirty miles east of San Diego. I have been attending weekday healing services led by Father Keith Acker when he was Rector of Christ the King Episcopal Church and also after he and his church left the Diocese and reformed as Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity which is now part of the Reformed Episcopal Church. So blessings to both churches on their Feast of Title!

So today we give special thanks to our Lord who is realized in three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Although we praise God for the Trinity each and every day of the year, this day we celebrate it more than usual, remembering His gracious goodness, His lovingkindness, and His everfaithful mercy in, as Dr. Stephen Sammons, our pastor at Lake Murray often states, loving us as we are, yet loving us too much to allow us to remain that way. In the words of the Gloria Patri, "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."

And now not from the Archives...

Here's the Collect for Trinity Sunday from the Book of Common Prayer 2011:

ALMIGHTY and eternal God, who gave grace to your people to proclaim the true Faith, acknowledging the glory of the eternal Trinity and, by the power of your Divine Majesty, worshiping One God; Keep us standing firm in this Faith and always defend us from danger; Who lives and rules, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Also, I wanted to share a couple of quotations on The Trinity...which are not easy to find, by the way. But I think I like these words from an Anglican who started the Holiness movement:

"Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and I will show you a man that can comprehend the Triune God."      
~John Wesley

And one more quotation, this time from a friend of mine, a former missionary to East Asia (China) who shall remain nameless to protect her identity:

"Because of the cross, everything is redeemable."

Wishing you all a blessed Trinity Sunday as Ordinary Time begins once more....

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Quotation of the Week: On Shakespeare

This is my week "off" between the online Shakespeare classes I teach to homeschooling families through Brave Writer.

As of Friday, I officially finished teaching the Shakespeare Family Workshop in which I teach moms how to expose their kids to Shakespeare's life and works. We start off with an online Shakespeare Scavenger Hunt and then study the Elizabethan Theatre, including making drawings or models of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. In the second week, we learn about Shakespeare's language and poetry. Then we spend a week on Shakespeare's comedy plays, then a week on his histories, and then the final week on his tragedies, highlighting one play of each type and one speech/dialogue from each of those plays. I include lots of YouTube links to different actors' performances of the scenes as we study Much Ado About Nothing, Richard III, and Hamlet.

Next week (May 20), I'll be starting to teach our High School Shakespeare Class which will be reading and discussing Much Ado About Nothing. We'll study Shakespeare's life and language in Week One, then we'll read and discuss the play for the next two weeks, and in the final week we'll watch the Kenneth Branagh film version and also write a Final Writing Project on one of four topics.

So right now I have the above image as my laptop wallpaper, and I've also selected a quotation about Shakespeare as my Quotation of the Week:

"The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he really is very good, in spite of all the people who say he is very good." ~Robert Graves 

So I'll enjoy my week of preparing for the High School Shakespeare Class as I re-watch the Kenneth Branagh movie and collect discussion questions and information on Much Ado and also finish up the last posts from the Shakespeare Family Workshop.

With "Will" power,

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Celebrating Ascension Day

Today is Ascension Day, forty days after Christ's Resurrection, when He gave His final earthly encouragement and directions to His disciples before Ascending to the right hand of the Father. Today's Epistle reading is from Acts 1:

1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (English Standard Version)

The Gospel reading relates the same event, also told by Luke at the close of his gospel account:

50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God. (ESV)

The Collect from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer is rather formal and convoluted, so I'm using today the Collect from the New Zealand Book of Common Prayer from Father Bosco Peter's 
Liturgy site:

Eternal and gracious God,
we believe your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
to have ascended with triumph
into your kingdom in heaven;
may we also in heart and mind
ascend to where he is,
and with him continually dwell;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and forever.
Father Peters' reflection on Ascension can be read here: Ascension Day.

On Twitter this morning, Father Peters noted that Ascension Day is a holiday in several European countries, such as France, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, etc. Yet we in America hardly even know of this Biblical holy day, at least among American evangelicals. Part of Eastertide which lasts until Pentecost (just ten more days!), Ascension is obviously noted in Scripture as being forty days after Christ's Resurrection. This holy day has been celebrated since the early years of the Church, as the Catholic Encyclopedia notes:

The observance of this feast is of great antiquity. Although no documentary evidence of it exists prior to the beginning of the fifth century, St. Augustine says that it is of Apostolic origin, and he speaks of it in a way that shows it was the universal observance of the Church long before his time. Frequent mention of it is made in the writings of St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and in the Constitution of the Apostles. The Pilgrimage of Sylvia (Peregrinatio Etheriae) speaks of the vigil of this feast and of the feast itself, as they were kept in the church built over the grotto in Bethlehem in which Christ was born (Duchesne, Christian Worship, 491-515). It may be that prior to the fifth century the fact narrated in the Gospels was commemorated in conjunction with the feast of Easter or Pentecost.... Representations of the mystery are found in diptychs and frescoes dating as early as the fifth century.
You may read the full article from the Catholic Encyclopedia here: Feast of the Ascension.

I just don't really understand why American evangelical churches do not celebrate these Biblical festivals, or at least Pentecost if not Ascension. Pentecost lands on a Sunday every time, so there's really no excuse not to at least mention it...if not read the Scriptures recounting the gift of the Holy Spirit to the waiting disciples and perhaps even preach on the subject. Yes, every day of our earthly existence should be a celebration of what Christ has done for us, and every Sunday should indeed be a celebration of the Resurrection power and love of Jesus. But noting and celebrating these other Biblical holy days seems like a wonderful idea to me, one in which we can live in the footsteps of our Risen Lord.

And, finally, the Collect for Ascension Day from The Book of Common Prayer 2011 which Father Keith Acker modernized and I helped to edit:

ALMIGHTY God, as we believe your only eternal Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, ascended into heaven; Grant that we may also ascend into heaven in heart and mind until, at the last, we may dwell with him forever; Who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and always. Amen.

Reprint from the Archives, 2009 (with the exception of the BCP 2011 Collect)

Enjoy a blessed Octave of the Ascension,

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Quotation of the Week: On Music

San Diego's own Steam Powered Giraffe

For the last few weeks, I've become enamored of popular music once again. It's been years since I truly listened to popular music, to new music just hitting the radio waves. For the past few years, I've been listening to music on my iPod, most of which consists of U2, Big Band and Swing music, and 80's classics. I tend to play Billie Holiday or Frank Sinatra while I write, and when I need a pick-me-up, I turn to the Mama Mia! movie soundtrack or some great be-bop music from the 50's and early 60's.

Despite my dislike of most music of the decade, I've also picked up a few 70's favorites, especially "American Pie" and "Bohemian Rhapsody." (But I refuse to admit my junior high and high school crushes on the music of John Denver, Barry Manilow, and Neil Diamond...despite attending their concerts.)  I was also seriously addicted to the Grease soundtrack. Leaving music behind, I have all of the Harry Potter and Twilight book series on my iPod as well (plus Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), so I didn't even listen to music for a couple of years as I focused on audiobooks.

But between Pandora on my phone and desktop and the replacement of the ancient radio in my 20-something year old Corolla, I've started listening to indie and alternative music. A lot of the indie bands are courtesy of Elizabeth who is hipster-ish in her music selections and from the Twilight movie soundtracks, but I've come to love the British indie bands Florence + the Machine, Editors, and Mumford and Sons. Elizabeth and I attended a Florence concert last fall, and she was amazing!! We missed out on getting tixs for Mumford for next month...which disappointed us both greatly.

Now that my car has a radio (and one that tells us what's playing--the song titles and musicians), I've become quite addicted to KPRI out of Encinitas which plays "Then and Now Adult Alternative" music. On my phone, the KPRI app allows me to "Clip" songs I like to listen to later, and my collection so far includes The Clash, Phillip Phillips, Coldplay, Alpha Rev, Goo Goo Dolls, R.E.M., Green Day, and Adele.

My Pandora stations with new music include Muse, Mumford and Sons, Indie Singer-Songwriters, Steam Powered Giraffe, Katie Melua, She & Him, Editors, Florence + the Machine, and Coldplay. Plus I listen to older and other music, including Blossom Dearie (1940's), Katherine Jenkins, John Michael Talbot (Catholic Christian), Tempest (Celtic), Casting Crowns (Christian), Gregorian Chant, Brian Setzer Orchestra (modern swing and big band), Herman's Hermits (1960's), Celtic, Swing, Big Band, Andrews Sisters, Monkees, Beach Boys, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, 80's Pop, Golden Oldies, British Invasion, 50's Rock 'n' Roll, and U2.

I get quite the eclectic shuffles on Pandora. Right now Muse's "City of Delusion" is being followed by Glen Miller's "Pennsylvania 6-500," followed by Lana Del Rey's "Young and Beautiful," and then "Fun, Fun, Fun" from The Beach Boys and "I'm into Something Good" from Herman's Hermits, and finishing with Artie Shaw's "Begin the Beguine" (I used to play the clarinet myself, so I have a soft spot for Artie), Muse's "Starlight," Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed," Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher's Wedding Day," and The Lumineers' "Ho Hey." :)

Yeah, my Pandora shuffles are just a little schizophrenic.

And I love San Diego's own Steam Powered Giraffe (see top photo) with their humorous steampunk style, especially since my niece is friends with several of the band members. Our son Timothy has painted an amazing portrait of one of the band members in persona for his art class.

I'm not a big fan of Christian Contemporary music except for Casting Crowns because of their engagement with popular culture. And I prefer hymns on Sunday mornings for the most part.

So this week's Quotation of the Week is all about music and is something I feel as well. Growing up in a household without Christian music, I was always drawn toward any song that mentioned God: "American Pie," "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show," etc., which also explains why my favorite band is U2 (starting with 2001's All That You Can't Leave Behind; I wasn't much of a fan in the 80's). So Bono's words below strike a chord within me:

"The music that really turns me on is either running toward God or running away from God. Both recognize the pivot, that God is at the center of the jaunt."

~Bono of U2

PS: 5/6/13: John Armstrong of Act 3 Ministries (whom I love because of his true ecumenism of bringing Catholics and Evangelicals into positive, constructive dialog) posted a video of U2 closing a Chicago concert with two of their most clearly Christian worship songs, "Yahweh" (Bono's ode to the hymn "Take My Life and Let It Be") and "40" (which is based on Psalm 40); the worship in Bono's expression is echoed by the audience so palpably. Amazing. Here's the link (the video is about eleven minutes and was posted on a Christian video site): U2 Chicago concert closing.

PPS: 5/6/13: Editors just released the video for "A Ton of Love" from their new album The Weight of Your Love due out 1 July. Here's the link: "A Ton of Love"; I found the lyrics, especially at the beginning of the song, to be reminiscent of U2. ;)

So what kind of music do you listen to?

Musically yours,


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