Theological Education Sunday 神學主日 2021

神學教育助學金部

Board of Theological Education Scholarship Fund (BoTESF)

Budget

Our Budget 2021 我們的2021預算 $45,000.00

Previous Collections

Our previous collections 我們過去收到的奉獻

2019 – $16,174.82

2020 – $21,392.00

Support

Please continue to support us financially post Theological Sunday

(please specify BoTESF in all transaction)

請在神學主日之後依然在經濟上支持我們 (轉帳時請註明神學教育助學金部BoTESF)

Account Name:

Chinese Methodist Church in Australia Inc

BSB:

013-225

Account:

268138975

Prayer Support 代禱

Please pray for our ministry, Pray also for our Theological students, teachers, & co-workers

Please pray for the board development of 10 years vision and target for CMCA

Please pray for yourself, that you will take up Theological studies to equip yourself for God’s Kingdom sake

請為我們的事工代禱, 更為我們的神學生, 老師, 以及同工代禱

請為本部的十年異像和目標的設定工作來代禱.

請為您自己代禱以使你願意進修神學課程來為上帝國度的緣故裝備自己.

CMC English Bulletin – 1/8/2021

Sunday Service

Responsive Reading: Psalm 102

Hear my prayer, Lord;
    let my cry for help come to you.
Do not hide your face from me
    when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me;
    when I call, answer me quickly.

For my days vanish like smoke;
    my bones burn like glowing embers.
My heart is blighted and withered like grass;
    I forget to eat my food.
In my distress I groan aloud
    and am reduced to skin and bones.
I am like a desert owl,
    like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake; I have become
    like a bird alone on a roof.
All day long my enemies taunt me;
    those who rail against me use my name as a curse.
For I eat ashes as my food
    and mingle my drink with tears
10 because of your great wrath,
    for you have taken me up and thrown me aside.
11 My days are like the evening shadow;
    I wither away like grass.

12 But you, Lord, sit enthroned forever;
    your renown endures through all generations.
13 You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
    for it is time to show favor to her;
    the appointed time has come.
14 For her stones are dear to your servants;
    her very dust moves them to pity.
15 The nations will fear the name of the Lord,
    all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.
16 For the Lord will rebuild Zion
    and appear in his glory.
17 He will respond to the prayer of the destitute;
    he will not despise their plea.

18 Let this be written for a future generation,
    that a people not yet created may praise the Lord:
19 “The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high,
    from heaven he viewed the earth,
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners
    and release those condemned to death.”
21 So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion
    and his praise in Jerusalem
22 when the peoples and the kingdoms
    assemble to worship the Lord.

23 In the course of my life he broke my strength;
    he cut short my days.
24 So I said:
“Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days;
    your years go on through all generations.
25 In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
    and they will be discarded.
27 But you remain the same,
    and your years will never end.
28 The children of your servants will live in your presence;
    their descendants will be established before you.”

Sermon

Title: Longing for God

Speaker: Rev Moussa

Bible Passage: Psalm 42

Announcements

  1. Warmly welcome any new comer who joins our service today. Please leave your contact with us so that we can keep you posted on ongoing and upcoming events. You are encouraged to join our virtual fellowship meeting after the service. Details will be given out in chat area.
  2. Mercy Methodist Church Building Purchase and Renovation: Praise God for the permanent and own building of MMC in Queensland. Now that they have completed the purchase of the building, they need further support for renovation. Please help generously in this important milestone of this MMC journey in serving God and the community. Donations can be sent to Account Name – Mercy Methodist Church, BSB 484 799, Account Number 609 503 161, Reference “Building Fund”. Contact sister Ik Ling for more details.
  3. Adult Sunday School in Chinese (Online) (25/7; 1, 8, 22/8 8:30-10:30PM):Theme: New Testament Introduction. Lecturer: Bishop Dr Albert Wong. These lectures will cover all books in the New Testament, their themes, outline, and characteristics. They will also cover the ways of applying the teachings in our ministries and services as a Christian. You can register at :https://forms.gle/nusYBUteWz79prCx9
  4. Seminar on Mission from CMCA Board of Mission (Online in Chinese) (7/8 10AM – 12:30PM) Theme: The new trends of missions in the 21st century. Registration at https://cmca.org.au/2021webinar
  5. 2021 Family Discipleship Seminar (10-12/9 Register NOW):What is God’s purpose for marriage?  What is God’s purpose for family?  Can every individual or family be a gospel-centred, Christ-centred, and God-glorifying person for God?  And how does that look like?  We will try to answer some of these questions … To find out the answers, please come and join this online seminar. Theme: God’s Kingdom Blessings: The Gospel and the Family. Speakers: Rev Dr Moses Tey and Cathy Tey. Registration details: http://cmcsydney.org.au/chin/index.php/2021/07/15/2021-family-discipleship-seminar/ Dr Moses is a much sought-after speaker on building up the Church of God. (https://d6malaysia.com/rev-moses-tey-cathy-yang/) “Moses Tey’s calling and passion is equipping church leaders through intensive biblical exploration of how God builds His church that spans from Genesis 1 to Revelations 22. The end result is a comprehensive framework of how God structures His church.”
  6. Mid-Autumn Festival Evangelistic Night (18/9 7-9PM): This will be a Chinese event celebrating the gospel during the mid-autumn festival. Programme includes snack, choir, short drama, choir singing, and of course gospel sharing (by Rev 邵海东). Please invite your family and friends to join. The prayer team led by brother Johnny Ma (马月) and sister 陈昱 will earnestly pray for them and the event.
  7. Church 30th Anniversary – Banquet (13/11) Place: St George League Club 龙景轩. Cost: Adult $60 Child (age 3-12) $30. Due to restrictions, we can only accommodate 200 people in the banquet. Please register early so that you won’t miss this fun and enjoyable milestone celebration of our church. Tickets will be available in August. Please pay in cash or cheque for the tickets.
  8. Search for the pastor for English service:Please continue to pray for God to bring in the pastor He calls for our English congregation.

EFT Details

ACCOUNT NAME:Carlton Methodist Church (NSW) Inc
BSB:012-341
ACCOUNT NO:475290574
Note:Please indicate details of your donations and how you would like to be identified on the notice board

2021 Family Discipleship Seminar

2021家庭门训讲座 Family Discipleship Seminar

中文:8月13-15日 英语:9月10-12日
13-15 August (Chinese) & 10-12 September (English)
网上注册 Online Registration:  https://cmca.org.au/familydiscipleship

上帝对于婚姻的目的是什么?而上帝对于家庭又有何用意呢?我们是否能以个人或家庭的形式活出以福音及基督为中心的生活,在生命中荣耀神呢?而这又是怎么样的生活呢?我们将会为你解答这些问题。

What is God’s purpose for marriage?  What is God’s purpose for family?  Can every individual or family be a gospel-centred, Christ-centred, and God-glorifying person for God?  And how does that look like?  We will try to answer some of these questions …

神的祝福:福音与家庭  God’s Kingdom Blessings:  The Gospel and the Family

讲员:郑摩西牧师博士 (与郑师母)
Theme Talks Speaker:  Rev. Dr Moses Tey (and Cathy Tey)

日期和时间:墨尔本时间(AEST, UTC/GMT +10 hrs)
Date and Time: Based on Melbourne time (AEST, UTC/GMT +10 hrs)

中文讲座

第一讲  星期五 8月13日 8.30-10pm
第二讲  星期六 8月14日 11am- 12.30pm
第三讲  星期六 8月14日 8.30-10pm
第四讲  星期日 8月15日 8.30-10pm
*第一讲 – 哥前十五 1-5 – 福音为上帝国度的首要
*第二讲 – 创二 – 家庭为上帝国度的核心
*第三讲 – 路二 – 下一代信仰的关键
*第四讲 – 申六 – 家庭门训为最大诫命的核心

讲员介绍:

郑摩西牧师很深入地由创世记第一章至启示录第二十二章探讨上帝如何建造他的教会,并提供一个上帝如何以家庭为核心建立教会的架构。这阐明了当今教会所面对的挑战,包括领袖栽培、维持婚姻、栽培下一代,以及教会活动的激增。郑牧师团队的事工遍布于中国(250万人次的现场参与)、美国与东南亚。持有电子工程学位的郑牧师也同时拥有道学硕士、神学硕士,以及传播博士学位。他和他的妻子Cathy 目前在美国南浸信会神学院攻读博士学位。他们结婚27年,育有两名爱主的儿子。

– 讲座负责人: 林文光牧师, 陈芳恩牧师, 年议会基督教教育部
– IT, Zoom 及 YouTube 与报名等– Dennis Wong
– 若想知道更多详情及报名等,请扫QR码或联络您的主理牧师

English Seminar

Session 1   Friday 10 September, 8:30-10:00 pm
Session 2  Saturday 11 September, 11:00 am-12:30 pm
Session 3  Saturday 11 September, 8:30-10:00 pm
Session 4  Sunday 12 September, 8:30-10:00 pm
*Session 1 Topic 1 – 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 – Gospel of First Importance
*Session 2 Topic 2 – Genesis 1 – The Family at the Heart of God’s Kingdom
*Session 3 Topic 3 – Luke 2 – A Key for Next Generation’s Faithfulness
*Session 4 Topic 4 – Deuteronomy 6 – Family Discipleship at the Heart of God’s Great Commandment

Speaker Introduction:

Moses’ intensive biblical exploration of how God builds His church spans from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22.  At the heart of this comprehensive framework is the family of God.  This framework addresses many challenges churches face, including developing authentic leaders, marriages, children as they become adults, and the explosion of church programs.  Moses’ team serves in China (2.5 million live attendance), USA, and part of SE Asia.  Upon graduating with an Electrical Engineering degree, Moses pursued a M.Div at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, ThM at Asbury Theological Seminary, PhD of Communications at the University of Kentucky.  He and his wife, Cathy, are currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Church and Family.  They have been married 27 years with two adult sons who love the Lord.

-Event Coordinator – Rev. Gloria Ling, Rev. Michael Ting, Board of Christian Education, CMCA
-IT, Zoom and YouTube (and registration) etc. – Dennis Wong
-For more information and registration, please scan the QR code or contact your local church pastor in-charge.

Certification Guide for Church Leaders and Volunteers

OUR BELIEF

CMC believes that a child or young person should never experience abuse of any kind. We have a responsibility to promote the welfare of all children and young people and to keep them safe. We are committed to practice in a way that protects them.

CERTIFICATION NEEDED

This GUIDE provides a quick reference to the certifications needed for each ministry at CMC. It applies to all staff, including senior leadership, manager, coordinators, paid staff, volunteers, students or anyone working on behalf of CMC.

Each person-in-charge of their ministries should make sure their team members acquire the relevant certification before commencing their service.

This is essential to ensure our church is compliant with various legislations for child protection in Australia.

Ministry AreaSafe Church Awareness Training Certificate *Working With Children Check **Remarks
General LCEC MinistriesRequired  
Sunday SchoolRequiredRequired 
REEF groupRequiredRequired 
Mainly MusicRequiredRequired 
    

* Class-room workshops and online training classes are available at https://www.ncca.org.au/scp/scp-upcoming-events

https://courses.safeministry.training/

Valid for 3 years

** Application for WCC can be obtained from Service NSW https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/apply-working-children-check. Valid for 5 years

Hope for the World: Reflection on Advent with the Church Fathers

December 25

Bible Reading: Luke 2:25-40

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Reflection: St John Chrysostom’s Homily on Christmas morning

BEHOLD a new and wondrous mystery. My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn. The Angels sing. The Archangels blend their voice in harmony. The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise. The Seraphim exalt His glory. All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly s by divine mercy raised.

Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side, the Sun of justice. And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed; He had the power; He descended; He redeemed; all things yielded in obedience to God. This day He Who is, is Born; and He Who is, becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became He God from man; but being the Word He became flesh, His nature, because of impassability, remaining unchanged.

And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor Archangels, nor Thrones, nor Dominations, nor Powers, nor Principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.

Since this heavenly birth cannot be described, neither does His coming amongst us in these days permit of too curious scrutiny. Though I know that a Virgin this day gave birth, and I believe that God was begotten before all time, yet the manner of this generation I have learned to venerate in silence and I accept that this is not to be probed too curiously with wordy speech.  

For with God we look not for the order of nature, but rest our faith in the power of Him who works. 

What shall I say to you; what shall I tell you? I behold a Mother who has brought forth; I see a Child come to this light by birth. The manner of His conception I cannot comprehend. 

Nature here rested, while the Will of God labored. O ineffable grace! The Only Begotten, Who is before all ages, Who cannot be touched or be perceived, Who is simple, without body, has now put on my body, that is visible and liable to corruption. For what reason? That coming amongst us he may teach us, and teaching, lead us by the hand to the things that men cannot see. For since men believe that the eyes are more trustworthy than the ears, they doubt of that which they do not see, and so He has deigned to show Himself in bodily presence, that He may remove all doubt.

Christ, finding the holy body and soul of the Virgin, builds for Himself a living temple, and as He had willed, formed there a man from the Virgin; and, putting Him on, this day came forth; unashamed of the lowliness of our nature. 

For it was to Him no lowering to put on what He Himself had made. Let that handiwork be forever glorified, which became the cloak of its own Creator. For as in the first creation of flesh, man could not be made before the clay had come into His hand, so neither could this corruptible body be glorified, until it had first become the garment of its Maker. 

What shall I say! And how shall I describe this Birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of days has become an infant. He Who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger. And He Who cannot be touched, Who is simple, without complexity, and incorporeal, now lies subject to the hands of men. He Who has broken the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infants bands. But He has decreed that ignominy shall become honor, infamy be clothed with glory, and total humiliation the measure of His Goodness. 

For this He assumed my body, that I may become capable of His Word; taking my flesh, He gives me His spirit; and so He bestowing and I receiving, He prepares for me the treasure of Life. He takes my flesh, to sanctify me; He gives me His Spirit, that He may save me. 

Come, then, let us observe the Feast. Truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the Nativity. For this day the ancient slavery is ended, the devil confounded, the demons take to flight, the power of death is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back, the speech of kindliness diffused, and spreads on every side, a heavenly way of life has been ¡in planted on the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men now hold speech with angels. 

Why is this? Because God is now on earth, and man in heaven; on every side all things commingle. He became Flesh. He did not become God. He was God. Wherefore He became flesh, so that He Whom heaven did not contain, a manger would this day receive. He was placed in a manger, so that He, by whom all things arc nourished, may receive an infant¢s food from His Virgin Mother. So, the Father of all ages, as an infant at the breast, nestles in the virginal arms, that the Magi may more easily see Him. Since this day the Magi too have come, and made a beginning of withstanding tyranny; and the heavens give glory, as the Lord is revealed by a star. To Him, then, Who out of confusion has wrought a clear path, to Christ, to the Father, and to the Holy Ghost, we offer all praise, now and for ever. Amen.

Hope for the World: Reflection on Advent with the Church Fathers

December 24

Bible Reading: Luke 2:1-20

 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Reflection St Augustine on Truth has arisen from the earth and justice has looked down from heaven.

Awake, mankind! For your sake God has become man. Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you. I tell you again: for your sake, God became man.

  You would have suffered eternal death, had he not been born in time. Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh, had he not taken on himself the likeness of sinful flesh. You would have suffered everlasting unhappiness, had it not been for this mercy. You would never have returned to life, had he not shared your death. You would have been lost if he had not hastened to your aid. You would have perished, had he not come.

  Let us then joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the festive day on which he who is the great and eternal day came from the great and endless day of eternity into our own short day of time.

  He has become our justice, our sanctification, our redemption, so that, as it is written: Let him who glories glory in the Lord.

  Truth, then, has arisen from the earth: Christ who said, I am the Truth, was born of the Virgin. And justice looked down from heaven: because believing in this new-born child, man is justified not by himself but by God.

  Truth has arisen from the earth: because the Word was made flesh. And justice looked down from heaven: because every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.

  Truth has arisen from the earth: flesh from Mary. And justice looked down from heaven: for man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.

  Justified by faith, let us be at peace with God: for justice and peace have embraced one another. Through our Lord Jesus Christ: for Truth has arisen from the earth. Through whom we have access to that grace in which we stand, and our boast is in our hope of God’s glory. He does not say: “of our glory,” but of God’s glory: for justice has not come out of us but has looked down from heaven. Therefore he who glories, let him glory, not in himself, but in the Lord.

  For this reason, when our Lord was born of the Virgin, the message of the angelic voices was: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to men of good will.

  For how could there be peace on earth unless Truth has arisen from the earth, that is, unless Christ were born of our flesh? And he is our peace who made the two into one: that we might be men of good will, sweetly linked by the bond of unity.

  Let us then rejoice in this grace, so that our glorying may bear witness to our good conscience by which we glory, not in ourselves, but in the Lord. That is why Scripture says: He is my glory, the one who lifts up my head. For what greater grace could God have made to dawn on us than to make his only Son become the son of man, so that a son of man might in his turn become son of God?   Ask if this were merited; ask for its reason, for its justification, and see whether you will find any other answer but sheer grace.

Hope for the World: Reflection on Advent with the Church Fathers

December 23

Bible Reading: Ephesians 1:3-14

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he[d] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

11 In him we were also chosen,[e] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Reflection:  A sermon of Saint Leo the Great, pope

The birthday of the Lord is the birthday of peace

God’s Son did not disdain to become a baby. Although with the passing of the years he moved from infancy to maturity, and although with the triumph of his passion and resurrection all the actions of humility which he undertook for us were finished, still today’s festival renews for us the holy childhood of Jesus born of the Virgin Mary. In adoring the birth of our Saviour, we find we are celebrating the commencement of our own life, for the birth of Christ is the source of life for Christian folk, and the birthday of the Head is the birthday of the body.

Every individual that is called has his own place, and all the sons of the Church are separated from one another by intervals of time. Nevertheless, just as the entire body of the faithful is born in the font of baptism, crucified with Christ in his passion, raised again in his resurrection, and placed at the Father’s right hand in his ascension, so with Him are they born in this nativity.

For this is true of any believer in whatever part of the world, that once he is reborn in Christ he abandons the old paths of his original nature and passes into a new man by being reborn. He is no longer counted as part of his earthly father’s stock but among the seed of the Saviour, who became the Son of man in order that we might have the power to be the sons of God.

For unless He came down to us in this humiliation, no one could reach his presence by any merits of his own.

The very greatness of the gift conferred demands of us reverence worthy of its splendour. For, as the blessed Apostle teaches, We have received not the spirit of this world but the Spirit which is of God, that we may know the things which are given us by God. That Spirit can in no other way be rightly worshipped, except by offering him that which we received from him. But in the treasures of the Lord’s bounty what can we find so suitable to the honour of the present feast as the peace which at the Lord’s nativity was first proclaimed by the angel-choir?

For it is that peace which brings forth the sons of God. That peace is the nurse of love and the mother of unity, the rest of the blessed and our eternal home. That peace has the special task of joining to God those whom it removes from the world.

So those who are born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man but of God must offer to the Father the unanimity of peace-loving sons, and all of them, adopted parts of the mystical Body of Christ, must meet in the First-Begotten of the new creation. He came to do not his own will but the will of the one who sent him; and so too the Father in his gracious favour has adopted as his heirs not those that are discordant nor those that are unlike him, but those that are one with him in feeling and in affection. Those who are re-modelled after one pattern must have a spirit like the model.

The birthday of the Lord is the birthday of peace: for thus says the Apostle, He is our peace, who made both one; because whether we are Jew or Gentile, through Him we have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Hope for the World: Reflection on Advent with the Church Fathers

December 22

Bible Reading: Mark 1: 14-15; Romans 1:2-7

Jesus Announces the Good News

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life[a] was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power[b] by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from[c] faith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Reflections: From a discourse of Origen on prayer: Thy kingdom come

The coming of the kingdom of God, says our Lord and Saviour, does not admit of observation, and there will be no-one to say “Look here! Look there!” For the kingdom of God is within us and in our hearts. And so it is beyond doubt that whoever prays for the coming of the kingdom of God within himself is praying rightly, praying for the kingdom to dawn in him, bear fruit and reach perfection. For God reigns in every saint, and every saint obeys God’s spiritual laws — God, who dwells in him just as he dwells in any well-ordered city. The Father is present in him and in his soul Christ reigns alongside the Father, as it is said: We will come to him and make our dwelling with him.

Therefore, as we continue to move forward without ceasing, the kingdom of God within us will reach its perfection in us at that moment when the saying in the Apostle is fulfilled, that Christ, his enemies all made subject to him, shall deliver the kingdom to God the Father that God may be all in all.

For this reason let us pray without ceasing, our souls filled by a desire made divine by the Word himself. Let us pray to our Father in heaven: hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come.

There is something important that we need to understand about the kingdom of God: just as righteousness has no partnership with lawlessness, just as light has nothing in common with darkness and Christ has no agreement with Belial, so the kingdom of God and a kingdom of sin cannot co-exist.

So if we want God to reign within us, on no account may sin rule in our mortal body but let us mortify our earthly bodies and let us be made fruitful by the Spirit. Then we will be a spiritual garden of Eden for God to walk in. God will rule in us with Christ who will be seated in us on the right hand of God — God, the spiritual power that we pray to receive — until he makes his enemies (who are within us) into his footstool and pours out on us all authority, all power, all strength. This can happen to any one of us and death, the last enemy may be destroyed, so that in us Christ says Death, where is your sting? Death, where is your victory? So let our corruptibility be clothed today with holiness and incorruption. With Death dead, let our mortality be cloaked in the Father’s immortality. With God ruling in us, let us be immersed in the blessings of regeneration and resurrection.

Hope for the World: Reflection on Advent with the Church Fathers

December 21

Bible Reading: Hebrew 1: 1-6

God’s Final Word: His Son

1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

The Son Superior to Angels

For to which of the angels did God ever say,

“You are my Son;
    today I have become your Father”?

Or again,

“I will be his Father,
    and he will be my Son”?

And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,

“Let all God’s angels worship him.”

Reflection: St Ephrem of Syrian – On the Nativity of Christ in Flesh (Hymn 4)

This is the month which brings all manner of joy; it is the freedom of the bondsmen, the pride of the free, the crown of the gates, the soothing of the body, that also in its love put purple upon us as upon kings.

This is the month that brings all manner of victories; it frees the spirit; it subdues the body; it brings forth life among mortals; it caused, in its love, Godhead, to dwell in Manhood.

In this day the Lord exchanged glory for shame, as being humble; because Adam changed the truth for unrighteousness as being a rebel: the Good One had mercy on him, justified and set right them that had turned aside.

Let every man chase away his weariness, since that Majesty was not wearied with being in the womb nine months for us, and in being thirty years in Sodom among the madmen.

Because the Good One saw that the race of man was poor and humbled, He made feasts as a treasure-house, and opened them to the slothful, that the feast might stir up the slothful one to rise and be rich.

Lo! The First-born has opened unto us His feast as a treasure-house. This one day in the whole year alone opens that treasure-house: come, let us make gain, let us grow rich from it, ere they shut it up.

Hope for the World: Reflection on Advent with the Church Fathers

December 18

Bible Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14

10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, 11 “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”

12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.”

13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you[c] a sign: The virgin[d] will conceive and give birth to a son, and[e] will call him Immanuel.[f] 1

Reflection: From the Letter to Diognetus

God showed his love through his Son

No man has ever seen God or known him, but God has revealed himself to us through faith, by which alone it is possible to see him. God, the Lord and maker of all things, who created the world and set it in order, not only loved man but was also patient with him. So he has always been, and is, and will be: kind, good, free from anger, truthful; indeed, he and he alone is good.

He devised a plan, a great and wonderful plan, and shared it only with his Son. As long as he preserved this secrecy and kept his own wise counsel he seemed to be neglecting us, to have no concern for us. But when through his beloved Son he revealed and made public what he had prepared from the very beginning, he gave us all at once gifts such as we could never have dreamt of, even sight and knowledge of himself.

When God had made all his plans in consultation with his Son, he waited until a later time, allowing us to follow our own whim, to be swept along by unruly passions, to be led astray by pleasure and desire. Not that he was pleased by our sins: he only tolerated them. Not that he approved of that time of sin: he was planning this era of holiness. When we had been shown to be undeserving of life, his goodness was to make us worthy of it. When we had made it clear that we could not enter God’s kingdom by our own power, we were to be enabled to do so by the power of God.

When our wickedness had reached its culmination, it became clear that retribution was at hand in the shape of suffering and death. The time came then for God to make known his kindness and power (how immeasurable is God’s generosity and love!). He did not show hatred for us or reject us or take vengeance; instead, he was patient with us, bore with us, and in compassion took our sins upon himself; he gave his own Son as the price of our redemption, the holy one to redeem the wicked, the sinless one to redeem sinners, the just one to redeem the unjust, the incorruptible one to redeem the corruptible, the immortal one to redeem mortals. For what else could have covered our sins but his sinlessness? Where else could we, wicked and sinful as we were, have found the means of holiness except in the Son of God alone? How wonderful a transformation, how mysterious a design, how inconceivable a blessing! The wickedness of the many is covered up in the holy One, and the holiness of One sanctifies many sinners.