Saturday, May 30, 2020

Saturday Synaxis

O Savior, when the fearful storms of life around us press,
And we in vain for comfort seek when all is comfortless,
Then whisper Thou the sweet command which Thou on Thine hast laid:
"Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid."

- from hymn #365 in The Augustine Hymnbook, 19th century

Friday, May 29, 2020

Hymn of the Week: My Highest Act of Worship

This week's hymn is a prayer of worship modeled on Paul's exhortation in Romans 12 to present ourselves as "living sacrifices." Each verse focuses on a particular aspect of our lives that we can offer up to God. It's written to the tune of "What a Friend We Have in Jesus."

My Highest Act of Worship

Lord, I bring you all my worship;
Oh, be glorified in me!
All my praise and adoration
Will be yours eternally.

     So I humbly bring the off'ring
     Of this living sacrifice:
     May my highest act of worship
     Be the way I live my life.

Lord, I bring you all my talents,
Every service I can give:
All the gifts that you have granted
To your work I freely give.


Lord, I bring you all my heartaches,
All the brokenness I bear.
You give strength amid my weakness;
May you grant your healing there.


Lord, I bring you all my triumphs,
Every great and noble deed:
May these virtues crown the glory
Of your craftsmanship in me.


Lord, I bring you all my failures;
All my sins I'm laying down.
In the ashes of repentance,
May your endless grace abound.


[Verse 1 & chorus may be repeated as an optional ending if desired]

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Heroes of the Faith: Patrick and the Medieval Missionaries

“Then Jesus came to them and 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

“God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”  – 1 Timothy 2:4

“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.”  - Revelation 7:9


- Patrick grew up in a Christian family in Wales, and lived from about the late 4th century to the late 5th century. 

- He was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland as a slave when he was a young man. He spent 7 years in captivity there, escaped, but later came back as a missionary.

- He is credited with being the first person to bring the Gospel to Ireland, and is famous for driving the snakes from Ireland (probably a mythical event) and for using the three-leafed clover to explain the Trinity.

- He was the first Christian leader to make the case that the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) was the duty of all Christians: “For after recognizing God, our way to repay him is to exalt him and confess his wonders before every nation under heaven.” (Confessio 3)

- If one word could characterize Patrick’s reason for becoming a missionary, it would be gratitude.

“Who was it that summoned me, a fool, from the midst of those who appear wise and learned? Me, truly wretched in this world, he inspired before others that I could be—if I would—such a one who, with fear and reverence, and faithfully, without complaint, would come to the people to whom the love of Christ brought me and gave me in my lifetime, if I should be worthy, to serve them truly and with humility.” (Confessio 13)

“I ought not to conceal God’s gift which he lavished on me in the land of my captivity, for then I sought him resolutely, and I found him there….I am greatly God’s debtor, because he granted me so much grace, that through me many people would be reborn in God….Therefore may it never befall me to be separated by my God from his people whom he has won in this most remote land.” (Confessio 33, 38, 58)

Martin of Tours

- Martin was one of the most influential of the early medieval missionaries. He served as bishop of Tours (in France) in the latter half of the 4th century. While other bishops of that age were content to spend their time at home, he made himself a missionary to his entire area. 

- Martin was a military officer before becoming a baptized Christian. In one story, he saw a beggar in need of clothes on the side of the road as he was riding along, and he tore his officer’s cloak in half in order to give something to the beggar. Later, Martin saw a vision where Christ was wearing the robe he had given to the beggar.

- He left the army, but he never left behind its militaristic way of thinking. (“Hitherto I have served Caesar as a soldier: allow me now to become a soldier of God.”) He evangelized the rural hinterlands aggressively, facing pagan religion head-on and performing many miracles through the power of God.

- The influence of people like Patrick and Martin sparked one of the greatest mission movements in Christian history: the Irish and Anglo-Saxon missionaries of “the Dark Ages.” They spread the Gospel throughout Britain (through the ministry of men like Aidan), France (Columbanus), the Low Countries (Willibrord), Germany (Boniface), and into Scandinavia (Anskar).


- Boniface was another notable missionary—a church leader who evangelized among the pagan tribes of Germany during the 7th and 8th centuries. 

- One of Boniface’s most famous acts came when he dared a pagan god to strike him dead as he cut down the god’s sacred oak tree (much like the story of Elijah at Mt. Carmel).

- “Can there be a more fitting pursuit in youth or a more valuable possession in old age than a knowledge of the Scriptures? In the midst of storms it will preserve you from the dangers of shipwreck and guide you to the shore of everlasting bliss.” (Letter to Nithard)

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Evangeliad (15:37-41)

Section 15:37-41 (corresponding to Luke 10:21-22; Matt. 11:28-30)

Then filled with joy in the Spirit of God,
Jesus looked up and he spoke aloud:
"I thank you, my Father, Lord over all,
O'er heaven and earth, great things and small:

These wonders You hid from the wise and esteemed,
Yet by the children You have let them be seen;
Yes, Father, this was Your own chosen way,
Your will, Your providence, expressed in grace!

My Father has given all things unto me;
And no one knows who the Son is but He--
And who knows the Father? The Son alone,
And those to whom the Son makes Him known.

Come, come unto me, you weary ones!
And you who bear burdens, come to the Son!
In me there is peace from your weary ways:
My rest I will give you, now and always.

Take my yoke on your shoulders, learn from me--
I am humble of heart, in gentleness' peace;
So come and find rest for your souls," said Christ,
"My yoke is easy, my burden is light."

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Photo of the Week

Mighty God, while angels bless Thee, may a mortal sing Thy name?
Lord of man as well as angels, Thou art every creature's theme.
For the grandeur of Thy nature--grand beyond a seraph's thought;
For the wonders of creation, works with skill and kindness wrought;
For Thy providence, that governs through Thine empire's wide domain,
Wings an angel, guides a sparrow--blessèd be Thy gentle reign.

- from the hymn "Mighty God, While Angels Bless Thee," by Robert Robinson, 18th century

Monday, May 25, 2020

Quote of the Week

"In palaces are hearts that ask,
In discontent and pride,
Why life is such a dreary task,
And all good things denied.
And hearts in poorest huts admire
How love has in their aid
(Love that not ever seems to tire)
Such rich provision made."

- Richard Chenevix Trench, Archbishop of Dublin, 19th century

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Saturday Synaxis

Calm me, my God, and keep me calm, while these hot breezes blow;
Be like the night-dew's cooling balm upon earth's fevered brow.
Calm in the hour of buoyant health, calm in my hour of pain;
Calm in my poverty or wealth, calm in my loss or gain:
Calm me, my God, and keep me calm; let Thine outstretchèd wing
Be like the shade of Elim's palm beside her desert-spring.

- Horatius Bonar