Verse of the Day

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday next before Advent - Commonly called Stir Up Sunday!

The propers for the Sunday next before Advent can be found on Page 225-226:

The Sunday next before Advent
The Collect.

TIR up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Ryan Hopkins read the Epistle for today, which came from the Book of Jeremiah, the Twenty-Third Chapter, beginning at the Fifth Verse.  Foretelling the arrival of Jesus, Jeremiah prophesied, “I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  He prophesied the New Covenant, moving reference of the Lord from Egypt to Israel and the return to one people of those driven out of their homeland across the world.

EHOLD, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.

Deacon Striker Jack Arnold read the Holy Gospel for today which came from the  Gospel according to Saint John, the Sixth Chapter, beginning at the Fifth Verse.  John relates one of the feeding the masses in the wilderness events.  This event occurring long before there was a Thanksgiving Day, seems very appropriate for the weekend and also forshadows the arrival of the Christ at Christmas coming to feed our spiritual needs in the wilderness of this world.

With five thousand men with them looking for food in the wilderness, “One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down…”  Reminding us that if the Son of God gave thanks to God for His food, so ought we, “Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, ‘This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.’”

Compare to saving our souls and feeding the inner hunger we have for God’s love, feeding a mere 5,000 men is child’s play, but then Jesus said we should accept God and His love through Him as the children do.  So perhaps it really is child’s play.

HEN Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

Sermon – Time and Action
Today’s sermon tied the Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 

As is oft the case, today’s propers are all tied together.  As is usual, they call for action not just thoughts.  In fact the collect is among the most direct, asking God to stir our hearts that we might ACT in a manner which will result in good things!  Jeremiah prophesies the coming of Jesus out of the branch of David that He might unite God’s people as one under a New Covenant.  John tells us Jesus not only comes to fill our hunger, literal in that if we follow Him we will do much better here on earth than if we do not, and figurative only He can fill the hunger in our hearts for God.  Interestingly, He tells the disciples to “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.”  Think about that and take what it is offered before it is no longer on the menu!

Happy Anniversary! 
This is the 48th anniversary of the establishment of the Anglican Orthodox Church by Bishop Parker Dees, a man who put our Lord before himself.  Please see the following from Bishop Jerry:

Anglican Orthodox Church
PO Box 128
Statesville, N.C. 28687

DATE: 16 November 2011 Anno Domini
TO: Faithful Members and Friends of the AOC
SUBJECT: 48th Anniversary Letter

"And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matt 16:18)

Contrary to the opinion of high churchmen, the Rock to which Christ referred was not to Peter as an individual, but to the faith in Christ which Peter demonstrated by his testimony. No man is the rock upon which the church is built for that Rock is none other than the Lord Jesu  s Christ Himself. The foundation of the Church is made sure by the apostolic faith and Doctrine of Christ as related through the preaching and teachings of Christ and His Apostles. There can be no Apostolic Succession where the Doctrines of Christ, as revealed to the Apostles, is not abundantly professed and clarified. If you wish to have the solid Rock for the Church, look not to man, but to Christ – "Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;  And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;  And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." (1 Cor 10:1-4)

We have been blessed in the AOC to have such Apostolic Succession from our separation from the Protestant Episcopal Church (so-called) and founding as a separate Communion in the Reformed and Anglican Tradition. The courageous Bishop James Parker Dees fought apostasy and heresy in the Episcopal Church for many years before deciding that the Church was doomed to continue on the way of Baal. Upon leaving that body, Bishop Dees faced persecution from every quarter – political, social and spiritual. Though his last assignment as a priest had included service as Rector of a black Episcopal Church, he was charged as being a racist and a radical. Priests of the ECUSA paraded all night around his house with loudspeakers and banners for three nights in a row. Every word he had written or spoken was twisted and misconstrued by the media who acted as vassals of the larger church body.

Bishop Dees never relented, but continued on the straight course upon which the Lord had placed his feet. On November 16th in the Year of our Lord 1963, Bishop Dees founded the Anglican Orthodox Church. He took the church back to the formularies and faith of the Great English Reformation Church of Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer. From that day until this, the AOC has remained faithful to that biblical faith for which the English and Continental martyrs died.

As we move into the future years, let us remain faithful to that biblical faith until Christ returns and finds us laboring as faithful and devout servants.

In Christ Alone,

Presiding Bishop

400th Anniversary of the Authorized Version of the Bible
The Authorized Version, commonly known as the King James Version, King James Bible or KJV, is an English translation of the Christian Bible by the Church of England begun in 1604 and completed in 1611. First printed by the King's Printer Robert Barker, this was the third official translation into English; the first having been the Great Bible commissioned by the Church of England in the reign of King Henry VIII, and the second was the Bishop's Bible of 1568. In January 1604, King James I of England convened the Hampton Court Conference where a new English version was conceived in response to the perceived problems of the earlier translations as detected by the Puritans, a faction within the Church of England.

James gave the translators instructions intended to guarantee that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology and reflect the episcopal structure of the Church of England and its beliefs about an ordained clergy.  The translation was done by 47 scholars, all of whom were members of the Church of England.  In common with most other translations of the period, the New Testament was translated from Greek, the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew text, while the Apocrypha were translated from the Greek and Latin. In the Book of Common Prayer (1662), the text of the Authorized Version replaced the text of the Great Bible – for Epistle and Gospel readings – and as such was authorized by Act of Parliament.  By the first half of the 18th century, the Authorized Version was effectively unchallenged as the English translation used in Anglican and Protestant churches. Over the course of the 18th century, the Authorized Version supplanted the Latin Vulgate as the standard version of scripture for English speaking scholars.

Anglican Orthodox Church
PO Box 128
Statesville, N.C. 28687

DATE: 19 November 2011 Anno Domini
TO: Faithful Members and Friends of the AOC
SUBJECT: Anniversary Letter of the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame." (Hosea 4:6-7)

It must be admitted by even the most complacent observer that America and her people  are no longer the bright and shining star of freedom and liberty once projected by the mere mention of her name. It is true that America remains a cut above most other nations of the world for hope and promise, yet she has fallen far below her previous standing as a beacon light of hope to which the whole world looked with admiration and longing. We have forgotten, among other things in our heritage, beauty and love – the two are inextricably joined at the heart. We have rejected the idyllic in the arts, and opted for the perverse. The graphic arts have degenerated over the past several decades from that which depicts the glory and beauty of God's Creation into that which distorts and disfigures all that is beautiful. The same is true of our music. If we can no longer compose to the standard of Bach, Vivaldi, Mendelsohn, Mozart, Handel, or Beethoven, why not retain this beauty in music until we are able to so compose. Instead, we have cast aside the beauty of melody and opted for the jumbled and unorganized notes of music which lowers the inspiration of the soul uses words that once would have been considered so disgusting that we would have landed in jail for uttering them.

America has been respected and looked up to over the years. As we began our descent into the abyss of vulgar tastes and perverse living, the world has watched and followed us there. Our media is quite powerful conveying our cultural failures to the rest of the planet. We have dumbed down our schools and institutes of higher learning believing that technical expertise can replace knowledge and spiritual advancement. How utterly profound has been our descent. We no longer know the meaning of an evening meal together with family. Fast foods, fast entertainment, decadent lifestyles, and foolish pursuits have occupied the hands that once built dreams and bridges.

The greatest decline has occurred in our souls and minds. The dull scrawlings we call art, the ear bursting racket we call music, and the dredges of society we call `movie star idols' have transformed our souls into dark and forbidding pits of despair. Those things of beauty which are classical because their value has increased in appreciation over the years rather than declined, are cast aside for rubbish. Shakespeare, Dostoyevski, Tolstoi, Cicero, Dickens, Longfellow, or Hawthorne are no longer read in our schools. Instead, our students read books such as "Bobby has two Daddies". Historical perspective is no longer taught except in ways that distort history to satisfy a political agenda.

And what of our language? It, too, has suffered shameful degradation. We have forgotten he old adage that "words have meaning and consequence." The dumbing-down of America has been a clever undertaking by those who love not liberty or freedom. They wish to control, not only the American people, but the populations of the world into lab dogs that would have made Pavlov proud  that we have fallen so easily to a people of `conditioned' response. I believe this process began with the most important element of our American society – the Church. We are graduating, and have been for a very long time, men who are biblically illiterate by the standards of the past. They have been conditioned to have a very low view of scriptuire and will accept any corruption of the word as long as it is label `bible version'. We have done so, with surprising success, by casting off the ancient landmarks and taking up the produce of the cattle stall as more valid than that text the Reformers called "commonly received." It amazes me that men for whom I initially feel to be of very high scholarship prove to have little wisdom, or scholarship, when it comes to the most important possession man can hold in his hands – the Holy Bible. Our King James Bible is the greatest accomplishment in translation beauty and accuracy of any to be produced byt the church. Those modern version, produced by corporations and which are under man's copyright, only contain bits and pieces of God's revealed Word. Within their so-called translational styles, they have embedded deadly [poisons that take away from the grace and beauty of God's Word. They take, primarily, two specious manuscripts which leave great gaps throughout their pages (in the originals) where long scriptural passages occur in the Received Text. These two manuscripts disagree in a great number of places even with each other, yet the modern mind can accept them more readily because they appear less harsh and require less backbone for their adherents in standing up for Christ and the Trinity. On the other hand, the Received Text is comprised of more than 90% of the manuscript evidence and all these agree together. I suppose "in the mouths of two witnesses shall the truth the truth be established" is no longer sound counsel of Christ since the two witnesses of the modern, copyrighted versions do not agree.

I have added to this long letter a very informative and scholarly article from an English Churchman. It was sent to me by Dru Arnold to whom I am very grateful for the sharing. If your attention span has not been hopelessly crippled, please read the below article:

The King of the Bibles
As the Queen prepares to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Version, Peter Mullen pours scorn on some of its modern rivals.
By Peter Mullen
7:06AM GMT 14 Nov 2011

We enjoyed a parish visit recently to St George's Chapel, Windsor: the Queen's Chapel. In there was a big sign saying, "Celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible". I must say, it was a custom more honoured in the breach than in the observance. For at Choral Evensong, the lessons were both from some illiterate, godforsaken modern version. I knew we were in for trouble from the start when, in the Old Testament lesson, King Solomon addressed the Almighty as, "You God…" – as if the deity were some miscreant fourth-former in the back row. Of course it went from bad to worse.

On Wednesday, the Queen will attend a service of celebration at Westminster Abbey to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. The address will be given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who earlier this year urged us to read the King James Bible in order to get a glimpse of what he called "the big picture". Perhaps this was meant to go with Dave's idea of "the big society"? This is a strange injunction, coming as it did from a man who has been in positions of power and influence in the church for decades. For in that time the same church hierarchy has ruthlessly suppressed the King James Bible, along with the Book of Common Prayer.

I can add a personal note on this subject. When I came to the City in 1998 I discovered that St Sepulchre's did not have a lectern Bible in the King James Version (KJV). So I asked St Paul's if they would lend me one of theirs.  They replied, "Oh yes, and you can keep it. We never use it at St Paul's, only when the Royal Family comes – awkward people like that." The King James Bible is a work of literary and spiritual genius. It is the religious register in English and its words and phrases have penetrated deeply into English literature. You cannot read 10 pages of Dickens or Arnold, George Eliot or the Bront√ęs without coming across wholly integrated resonances of the King James Version. And, of course, English poetry is saturated with it. WH Auden said, as he witnessed the sidelining of the King James Bible: "It was our luck to have that translation made when English was at its strongest and most robust. Why spit on our luck?"

CH Sisson said that all we really know is what he called "the reluctant deposit on the mind's floor". That is to say, what you remember when you've forgotten everything else. For centuries, people of all walks of life have carried around with them echoes of the King James Version. So to throw it out as the church hierarchy has done amounts to a savage act of deprivation and, as this deprivation is of the Word of God in English, it is vicious iconoclasm. Sidelining the King James Version especially deprives our children and is therefore a notable case of child abuse.

There is no such thing as noble truth expressed in ignoble words. The choice of words determines what is being said. Therefore, we should choose the best.

"Strips of cloth" is no substitute for "swaddling clothes". And Mary was "with child" – we think of the Madonna and Child – and she had not "fallen pregnant" as it says in one of the modern versions. You cannot satisfactorily replace "through a glass darkly" with the crass literalism "puzzling reflections in a mirror" or "sounding brass and tinkling cymbal" with "noisy gong and clanging cymbal". The King James Bible was designed to be read aloud in churches. All the modern versions sound as if they have been written by tone-deaf people with tin ears and no rhythm.

What level of vacuity is reached when "Son of Belial" (i.e. the devil himself) is rendered by the New English Bible (NEB) as "a good-for-nothing"? As if the son of the devil is only a truant from the fourth form who has been stealing from the housemaster's orchard.

The real Bible says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." The NEB gives us instead, "The first step to find wisdom." But that is only the way in which babyish primary school teachers speak to their charges. The first step to find wisdom – and then, if you are ever so good little children, I'll show you the second step. This is infantilization. Sometimes the New Jerusalem Bible's (NJB) pedantry, this pseudo-scholarly fascination with all that is merely foreign and obscure, is just silly, as in "You, Yahweh examine me." But occasionally it is mindlessly un-poetic and banal, as in the substitution of "Acclaim Yahweh" for the mesmerizingly beautiful and timelessly familiar "make a joyful noise unto the Lord". But in one example of supreme idiocy the meaning becomes impenetrable: The King James Version says, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord …" In the New Jerusalem Bible this degenerates into tasteless obscurantism: "If you live in the shelter of Elyon and make your home in the shadow of Shaddai, you can say to Yahweh …" The Revised Standard Version (RSV) loves to parade the translators' acquaintance with the slightest nuances in the ancient languages but their utter ignorance of what will go into ordinary English. It renders the "giants" of Genesis as "nephilim" – to the confusion, one supposes, of elderly ladies everywhere. And the "two pence" that the Good Samaritan gave to the innkeeper as "two denarii" – lest we should imagine that the currency of the Roman Empire was the same as that of England, pre-decimalization.

The RSV makes a habit of iconoclasm, as for instance in its destruction of that very familiar phrase: "Arise, take up thy bed and walk." The RSV says, "Take up your pallet and go home." Because we must on no account be allowed to imagine that the poor paralytic slunk off carrying his four-poster, we have forced upon us the literalism pallet: and the result sounds like instructions to a sloppy painter.

The NEB also cannot tell the difference between speech that is poetic and metaphorical and speech that is literal and descriptive. That is why for "wolves in sheep's clothing" we are given instead the pantomime howler "men dressed up as sheep". We recall perhaps Ulysses' escape from the Cyclops or that pejorative expression "mutton dressed up as lamb". In the KJV men are "at meat" or they "sup"; but the RSV mentions a Pharisee who "asked Jesus to dine" – where, at The Garrick or White's? Likewise, his rebuke to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, "O fools and slow of heart" is emasculated to become "How dull you are!" How dull indeed. Can you imagine for one minute Our Lord Jesus Christ on the evening of his day of resurrection using such language? "How dull!"

The KJV's "pearl of great price" is exhibited in more of that infantilised Blue Peter language as "a pearl of very special value". And then the end of the world itself is described as if it were only an exceptionally hot afternoon at Goodwood: "My dear friends…" (that is the voice of the NEB's urbane, housetrained St Peter) "…do not be bewildered by the fiery ordeal that is coming upon you, as though it were something extraordinary." The end of the world not extraordinary?

There is a sort of discreet charm about the KJV's saying, "It ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women." This is marvellous. It seems to reach up the underclothes of words, as that other great admirer of biblical prose, Dylan Thomas, said. But the Jerusalem Bible was written in the era of sex education, so it can confidently come straight out with "ceased to have her monthly periods". And the KJV's "great whore of Babylon" seems to have lost what is left of her character when the New Jerusalem Bible refers to her only as "the famous prostitute". Who is this – Eskimo Nell?

With studied pedantry, the New Jerusalem Bible replaces "inn" with "living space" – I suppose because they imagined readers to be so literal-minded that we might think St Luke meant the Rose and Crown. A similar pedantry removes the KJV's lovely "coat of many colours" and offers us "a decorated tunic". The KJV translates Psalm 139: 16 – a beautiful poem in which the Psalmist declares that God knew him "while he was yet in his mother's womb – as thine eyes did see my substance yet being unperfect." This is allusive, evocative, tender. Unbelievably, the NJB gives us instead, "Your eyes could see my embryo" – as if God were a member of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority.

There is a pervading irreverence bordering on blasphemy. The translation of the Psalms in the Book of Common Prayer is by Miles Coverdale and he renders the Hebrew, "O let thine ears consider well …" The NJB gives this as "Listen attentively Yahweh". But is that the way to speak to God? What more is there to be said when we notice that the NJB renders "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity" as "Sheer futility. Everything is futile." That phrase will serve as the motto for all the modern translations: "Sheer futility".

How hypocritical and sordid of the church authorities relentlessly to suppress the KJV, only to take it out and gawp at it in an anniversary year, as if it were a museum piece and we were all blundering tourists. The proper place for the KJV is on the lectern in every parish church – to be read, marked, learnt and inwardly digested, week in, week out.

Rev Dr Peter Mullen
Rector of St Michael, Cornhill, and St Sepulchre in the City of London

Stir Up Sunday
Stir Up Sunday is an informal term in the Anglican Church for the last Sunday before the season of Advent. The term comes from the opening words of the collect for the day in the Book of Common Prayer:

STIR up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Through an association of ideas, the day subsequently became connected, especially in England, with the preparation of Christmas puddings in readiness for Christmas. Also,  though with no real religious significance, Stir Up Sunday is located just the right time of the year to make the fruit cakes, Christmas Puddings and the like to be consumed on Christmas.   In many English culture homes, the afternoon of Stir Up Sunday is dedicated to measuring, stirring and cooking the Christmas Pudding!

The Christmas pudding is an important part of the Christmas Day celebrations in the UK.  Christmas pudding is a round, rich and heavy pudding made from fruit, eggs, sugar, breadcrumbs, suet, spices, and alcohol such as brandy or rum. Many families have their favorite pudding recipe, which is often passed down through generations of family members.

Stir-up Sunday is traditionally the day for making your Christmas pudding; giving it a month to mature before eating it on Christmas day. Stir-up Sunday is on the 20th November this year.

According to tradition, everyone in the family (especially the children) takes a turn to stir the pudding and makes a wish while stirring. Traditionally, the pudding should be stirred from east to west in honour of the three Kings who travelled from the East to see Jesus; and it should also have 13 ingredients to represent Christ and his disciples.

It used to be common for people to put a coin in their Christmas pudding. This was supposed to bring wealth in the coming year to the person who found it.

Christmas puddings are popular in the UK, but many people now buy their puddings from their local supermarket.

In the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 and later, this collect is listed for "The Twenty-Fifth Sunday After Trinity", with accompanying rubric specifying that this collect "shall always be used upon the Sunday next before Advent". This reinforced the significance of this day as forming part of the preparation for the season of Advent. The rubric is necessary because the last Sunday before Advent does not always fall on the twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity: Trinity Sunday is a moveable feast and the Advent season is fixed, so the number of weeks in between varies from year to year. The 1928 Book of Common Prayer solves this dilemma by marking only 24 Sundays after Trinity and setting this Sunday apart as “Next before Advent.” 

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