Sunday 31 May 2015

The Feast of Pentecost - The Spirit of Truth

Today is the joyful feast of Pentecost. It is the day in the year when we especially commemorate with thanksgiving the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Christ who had remained faithful, and continued to gather together both through the despair of the cross, the joy of the resurrection and the hope of the ascension. Of course it is also a time for us to give thanks for the continuing outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church, and even upon each one of us, unworthy though we know ourselves to be.

The Holy Spirit has many aspects. He is the Creator spirit, who brooded over the face of the waters and brought forth order and life in the Universe. St Jacob of Serug uses this image and describes the Holy Spirit brooding over the congregation as it gathers together at the eucharist, and there is a real sense in which a creative work is performed in our lives at each liturgy and each time we receive communion.

Wednesday 27 May 2015

A Spiritual Journey into Orthodoxy

I was born into a Protestant family. My parents were committed and devout evangelical Christians, and they brought me up to be active in my faith, and in the Christian community to which we belonged. I was part of a congregation of the Plymouth Brethren. We were part of the Open Brethren, not the Exclusive Brethren. Over the years the little congregation became just an ordinary Evangelical Church. When I was a small child it was simply called Salisbury Hall, after the name of the road where it was found. Then it became known as an Evangelical Church on the notice board, and presently, years after I had ceased to be a member, it is called a Family Church. I’ve come on a similarly transforming journey as the congregation I grew up among, though I have followed a different path.

Orthodoxy and the Holy Spirit

I would like to speak briefly about Orthodoxy and the Holy Spirit. I grew up in an evangelical community as I have described a little in my talk this morning. And during the late 70s and early 80s, in my late teens and early adulthood, the effects of the charismatic renewal reached even into our Brethren community. Some left us and joined explicitly Pentecostal groups in town. Others stayed and helped to introduce new forms of worship, different song books, and teachings about spiritual practice that created some tensions within the congregation. Plenty of us attended meetings in other places and heard some of the important speakers of the time. There was some excess in some of these meetings, undoubtedly. And it disturbed me as an evangelical seeking a deeper life with God. But much that seemed to be the expression of a desire to life the Christian life in a way that transformed those who claimed to have new life in Christ.

Tuesday 26 May 2015

The Orthodox Creed - Part 1 - Arabic

كاهن أرثوذكسى :
أنا كاهن أرثوذكسى وبالتحديد كاهن من الكنيسة البريطانية الأرثوذكسية تحت رعاية بطريركية الأقباط الأرثوذكس .
نشأت بكل إلتزام ونشاط كمسيحى إنجيلى وعلى ما يبدو عمل الله قارنى بعد فترة طويلة للأرثوذكسية ، ولكن طالما حدث لى فبالتأكيد يمكن أن يحدث مع أى شخص آخر.
الأب/ بيتــر فرنجتـــون
                                                                  الإثنين  20/4/2015

Monday 18 May 2015

Do not let your hearts be troubled

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. John 14:1

The Gospel reading for today struck me with a certain sense of familiarity. Of course many Bible passages are well known, and this is no exception. But I remembered that I had preached a brief homily on this passage at the funeral of my youngest brother in January of 2010. I won’t read the whole homily here. It is not very long but it was specific to that situation. But I will turn to some of the thoughts I shared on that day with the congregation of family and friends.

Our Lord had just been talking about whether or not the disciples would have the courage to lay down their lives for his sake. And in the context of thinking of giving all for the sake of serving Christ he teaches them that there is a bright future prepared for them all.

Tuesday 12 May 2015

He must increase, I must decrease

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30

This morning I would like us to consider one sentence from our Gospel reading today. It is that phrase spoken by St John the Baptist, ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’.

With many of the great saints there is often one phrase which describes their heroic virtue and which makes them a model for all Christians. And it seems to me that in the case of St John the Baptist we understand him best when we recall these words, ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’.

It is so with the Blessed Virgin Mary as well. In her case we recall the words, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be unto me according to your word’, and those other words which she spoke at the Wedding in Cana, ‘Whatever he says to you, do it’. She was the complete expression of these words, and becomes for us a model of how we should strive to live the Christian life.