This week many Christians will celebrate the role of Mary as the “God-bearer” or theotokos. Doctrinal beliefs concerning her nature and place within popular piety, vary greatly between Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox. However, all Christian traditions highly esteem her special place within the narrative of salvation history. The Council of Ephesus in 431 AD helped define Mary’s connection to the confession of Christ’s nature set forth in the Nicene Creed.
“He is risen (John 20:1-18)! In Christ’s resurrection is peace for the world and the promise of a new creation (Isaiah 65:17-25). The Lord is our strength and our salvation. This is the day the Lord has made – let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24). Death is destroyed. Christ is risen – he is risen indeed (1 Corinthians 15:19-26).”
“We bear witness to Jesus’ death and resurrection and tell everyone the good news (Acts 5:27-32). Like Thomas, we lay aside our doubts (Jn 20:19-31) and now anticipate his second coming (Rev 1:4-8). We will not die, but live and proclaim what the Lord has done (Ps. 118). Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” –Thomas Oden in Ancient Christian Devotional
“Jesus has risen (Acts 10:34-43)! God’s love for us is unshakeable. In the most desperate situations, he will be victorious (Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24). Let us then also walk in new life, putting away the old things (Colossians 3:1-4). Let us celebrate with the two women at the tomb Jesus’ triumph over death. He is risen, as he said (Matthew 28:1-10).” -Thomas Oden, Ancient Christian Devotional
The Light of the World God is the creator of all things and the author of light (Genesis 1:1-5). He sent John the Baptizer to prepare the way for the Light (Mark 1:4-11). We praise God, who has given us the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-7). May the Lord give strength to His people! May the Lord bless his people with peace (Psalm 29). – Thomas Oden in Ancient Christian Devotional
Today celebrates the cross as a symbol of Christ’s triumph over death. The history behind this day can be traced back to the time of Constantine. Holy Cross Day is celebrated on September 14th because it was on this day in 335 A.D. that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was dedicated in Jerusalem.
Many Christian traditions use the sign of the cross as a physical act of prayer that brings to mind Christ’s sacrifice and the continuing call to discipleship. This practice has a rich history. Here is an extended quote from James Keifer explaining its historical and biblical significance:
“Tertullian, in his De Corona (3:2), written around AD 211, says that Christians seldom do anything significant without making the sign of the cross. Certainly, by his time the practice was well established. Justin Martyr, in chapters 55 and 60 of his First Apology (Defence of the Christian Faith, addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius and therefore written between 148 and 155 AD), refers to the cross as a standard Christian symbol, but not explicitly to tracing the sign of the cross as a devotional gesture… Continue reading Holy Cross Day 2017→
“On Pentecost, we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-21). Through Christ, we are given the living water of the Holy Spirit, poured out on believers on Pentecost, so that we might “thirst” no more (John 7:37-39) and that we might use the spiritual gifts we are given to his glory (1 Corinthians 12:3b-13). We look at the wonders of creation and cannot help but praise God for his wisdom, originality and the beauty of the world around us (Psalm 104:24-34, 35b).”
Permit us not, O Lord, to hear your word in vain. Convince us of its truth, cause us to feel its power and bind us to yourself with chords of faith and hope and love that never shall be broken. We bind to ourselves today, you our God: your power to hold us, your wisdom to teach us, your word to give us speech, your presence to defend us, this day and every day; in the name of the blessed Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to whom be the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever and forever. Amen.
Today Roman Catholics and Anglicans mark the Feast of Leo the Great (Bishop of Rome, died 461). In a time of great cultural upheaval, he became known for uniting political and spiritual authorities. His writings provided the church with the language necessary to unite around common ideas about the nature of Christ at the Council of Chalcedon, and his role as a mediator in violent political conflicts helped to spare many lives. He is well known for his meeting with Attila the Hun, convincing him to hold off a few years before attacking Rome, then negotiating for less bloodshed when the Vandals later destroyed Rome.
Here is a brief passage from his Christmas Day sermon (In Nativitate Domini) titled, “Christian, Remember Your Dignity.”
“Let us then, dearly beloved, give thanks to God the Father, through His Son, in the Holy Spirit , Who for His great mercy, wherewith He has loved us, has had pity on us: and when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together in Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5), that we might be in Him a new creation and a new production.
Let us put off then the old man with his deeds: and having obtained a share in the birth of Christ let us renounce the works of the flesh. Christian, acknowledge your dignity, and becoming a partner in the Divine nature, refuse to return to the old baseness by degenerate conduct. Remember the Head and the Body of which you are a member. Recollect that you were rescued from the power of darkness and brought out into God’s light and kingdom. By the mystery of Baptism you were made the temple of the Holy Ghost: do not put such a denizen to flight from you by base acts, and subject yourself once more to the devil’s thraldom: because your purchase money is the blood of Christ, because He shall judge you in truth Who ransomed you in mercy, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit reigns for ever and ever. Amen.”
-Leo the Great
Resources for engaging the Revised Common Lectionary