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Archive for April, 2017

Palm Sunday


 

palm sunday

Please join us for the Blessing of the Palms and Procession at 11:00 a.m.-St. Alban’s Parish, 4006 Hermitage Road, Richmond, Virginia 23227

Almighty and everlasting God, who of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility; Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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The Cleansing of the Temple by Giotto in the Scrovegni Chapel, Padua

Tomorrow we shall be commemorating our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It was the one hour of anything resembling triumph in His earthly life. Yet, His eyes were dimmed with tears, even though shouts of a joyous and apparently believing welcome were sounding around Him. He comes as the Savior, meek and lowly, desiring to be received for our sake rather than His own.  He is weeping because of His rejection, not merely because of that rejection, but because those who reject Him know not the things which belong unto their peace.

When He entered Jerusalem He went first to the temple, and looked round on all things.  He marked the prayers and thanksgivings which devout souls were offering, and the Hosannas of the children who were singing there His praises.

He marked also the traffic and noise which rose in one of its courts, which had been set apart as a place of prayer for the Gentiles, as though it did not matter if their prayers were disturbed provided the convenience of the people of Israel was carefully provided for.  When He saw it all He could not but feel indignation.

He will thus come to look round on all things in the temple of our hearts;  and, if we will have it so, to cast out all that is wrong, all that is ruinous ourselves, and therefore displeasing to Him.

If He finds there a lack of charity for others; if He finds there irreverence for anything that pertains to God, His Name, or His house; if He finds that the business and traffic of this world so possesses us as to disturb our prayers and to indispose us for His holy worship; if He finds that anything like greed and covetousness is growing within us also, then, again, as of old, He will be grieved.

Shall we not implore Him to drive it all out? He may need to use a scourge. It may be that only through some suffering these can be driven out, but better so than that they should not be driven out at all.

Prayer

Yea, O Lord Jesu Christ, cleanse, I pray Thee, the temple of my heart and soul, that I may be a dwelling-place for Thee for evermore. Amen.

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Icon2

What is life? No one can tell entirely, though all know something of what it is to live. Again, what is death? No one knows what it is to die. We only know that death consists in the separation of the soul from the body. The latter is buried in peace, but the soul liveth for evermore, passing at the moment of death into the place of departed spirits.  There it waits until soul and body shall be again united, and those who were dead shall arise from the dead and live forever.

The Gospel for the week teaches us that those who keep the word of the Lord Jesus shall never see death. Yes, for by His death, He destroyed death, and by His rising to life again He restored to us everlasting life. He died that we might not die eternally. He rose again that in Him we might have eternal life.

We all die, indeed, for we have all sinned.  The sting of death is sin, and in the case of those whose sins are all forgiven for His sake, that sting has been taken away.  They depart with the sure and certain hope of rising again through Him, and at His bidding, to an everlasting life of blessedness and glory. This life, however, must be begun now.

In Baptism I was born again in Christ of water and the Holy Ghost. I was made a member of Christ.  If I feel that this is really the case I shall hardly need to be entreated to keep myself pure in heart and thought, in word and act.  I should be willing to live as He lived in all obedience to the will of God.  I should love all men in obedience to His commandments. For if I live in union with Christ, I must of course in some degree live the life of Christ.

In my childhood I shall endeavour to live the life of His boyhood. At that time of His life, He was brave and submissive, thoroughly in earnest in all that He did, anxious to be doing His work, devout, open, sincere, gentle, and obedient. Such a life will last on into eternity, and will be increasingly blessed.

Prayer

Grant me, O God, the help of Thy Holy Spirit, I humbly beseech Thee, and lead me in the path of obedience to the, example of Thy Blessed Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, for His sake. Amen.

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Communion Cup

On the day of atonement the high priest of Israel received two young goats, and having slain one of them in the outer count, passed with its blood and with incense into the Holy of Holies, there to sprinkle the blood upon the mercy-seat.  Having done this, he returned, and laying his hands upon the other goat confessed over it, “the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins;” and this goat was then sent away into the wilderness “to bear their sins into a land not inhabited.”

The first goat was a type of the Lord Jesus, offering Himself in death for our sins.  The other was a figure of Him as the Lamb of God bearing and taking away the sins of the world; while as the high priest passed into the Holy of Holies there to sprinkle the blood before the mercy-seat. So we are taught He has passed with His own Blood into Heaven itself, there to appear in the presence of God for us.

For in the Epistle for this week, we are taught that He is the High Priest of good things to come, whom the high priests of Israel in all their ministrations typified and prefigured.

While the high priest was thus ministering within the Holy of Holies, the people were mourning and praying without, and in like manner the acceptance of all our prayers and thanksgivings depends on the intercession of the eternal High Priest appearing for us in the presence of God in Heaven.

As He intercedes for me, so should I learn from His example to intercede in His name for others also. If previously I have not remembered this, let me learn in this Passion Week.  In this week when the Church turns our thoughts towards Him, that I, too, am called as a member of His Body, the Church, to have a little share with Him in His work of intercession.

In church we can scarcely help recognizing this, because many of the prayers which are offered there are of this intercessory character; but I ought to make my private prayers to some extent intercessory also.

Prayer

O Lord Jesu Christ, grant me grace that in union with Thee I may in this also follow Thine example. Amen.

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lamb

 

In the Epistle for this week, the death of the Lord Jesus Christ is contrasted with the sacrifices of the law of Moses. These, we are told, had an outward efficacy, sanctifying to the purifying of the flesh. The leper, for example, was cleansed from the ceremonial uncleanness which clung to him while he remained a leper, so that when the sacrificial blood had been sprinkled by the priest seven times upon him, and he had washed his clothes and fulfilled other obligations of the like kind, he was free to return again to his home, and to go up again to the courts of the house of the Lord.

The unhappy leper, as a type of the sinner, was treated as the impenitent sinner must be treated.  He was bidden to depart from God’s presence, and from all communion with God’s people.  The blood which restored him was typical also of the atoning and cleansing Blood of Christ.

But the leprosy was not in itself a moral but a physical disease, which resided in his flesh.  The blood which restored him, therefore, sanctified only to the purifying of the flesh. On the other hand, the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ was the sacrifice of an obedient will, and for this and other reasons His Blood has a spiritual power, and purges the conscience of him who believes in Him from dead works.

But what are dead works? They are the works which issue in death, that is, they are sins, and from these the Blood of Christ cleanses the conscience of those who come to Him by faith and prayer. We may well ask, “Is it so with me?”

Of the great multitude whom St. John saw in the courts of Heaven it is said that they washed their robes, and (also) made them white in the Blood of the Lamb. They made their robes white, allowing no little spots of pride, or selfishness, or impurity, or ill-temper, or untruthfulness, to retain upon them and mar their beautiful whiteness. Such must be our aim also through prayer and perseverance “to wear the white flower of a blameless life.”

Prayer

O Holy Spirit of God, teach me, and lead me in the path of holiness, I beseech Thee. Amen.

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atonement2

Again in the holy Gospel for this week, the Lord Jesus solemnly challenges His foes to find in Hun any fault if they could: “Which of you convinceth Me of sin.” To this challenge there was no reply, and never at any time did His bitterest enemies lay any moral fault to His charge. The most they could do was to attempt to fasten upon Him an accusation of a political nature, and to accuse Him of sedition. But this was obviously so untrue that Pilate refused to entertain it. “I find,” he said, “no fault in Him; no, nor yet Herod.” His only fault, even in the eyes of His accusers, was that He had claimed to be the Son of God and the Messiah of Israel.

It was necessary that the sacrifice for sin should be God, for if He were not God His sacrifice of Himself would not be a sacrifice of sufficient value to atone for the sins of all men.  It was necessary that the sacrifice for sin should be man, for God cannot suffer and die.  As it was man who had sinned, it was just that man should make atonement for sin.

It was necessary also that the man who would make this atonement should be a sinless man, for otherwise ho would have been among those who needed that that atonement should be made. Moreover, if the Lord Jesus had been guilty of sin, this would have contradicted the truth of His Godhead.  So, we see, therefore, that it was necessary that He should be unstained by sin. “The wages of sin is death,” and if He had deserved to die for His own sin His death could not have been an atonement for the sins of oven one other man.

It may be thought that if He was thus sinless His temptation was unreal. On the contrary, this made His temptations so much the more painful to Him. The purer in heart any man may be, the more painful will temptation he to him.  To the perfectly holy soul of the Lord Jesus all temptations to sin were more horrible and painful than they are to our sin-stained souls.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, help me to be holy because Thou art the most Holy, and to follow Thee day by day. Amen.

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I am

In the holy Gospel for this week, the truth that our Lord and Saviour is God is plainly set forth. “Before Abraham was, I am.”  There is with Him neither past nor future.  The words “I am” express the truth of His eternal being.

Yet He laid aside His Divine glory, which He had with the Father before the world was, and humbled Himself to be made man, that He might be truly and perfectly both God and Man. As man He chose the last and the lowest place. His mother was a maiden of somewhat lowly station. He was born in the stable of an inn. He grew up as a carpenter at Nazareth.  He had not anywhere to lay His head, and was among His disciples as he that serveth.

His will was not only to be tempted in all points like as we are, but also to know the fellowship of our infirmities, that He might feel the sorrows of all, and so be able to sympathize with all. His desire was to be poor that He might know by experience something of the grinding hardness of poverty.  He was to labor with hard toil that, though sinless Himself, He might taste and bear the curse of sin which was partly expressed in the words, “In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread.”

He was young was many regular men, active, vigorous, and of high spirit, like myself. But He was without sin, “a Son that never did amiss,” brave and patient, but at the same time kind and gentle towards all, loving above all things the courts of His Father’s house.

Temptation assailed Him, but He conquered it.  Sometimes it came from the great tempter himself, sometimes from the mistaken kindness of some dear friend, and sometimes from the cruel taunts of bitter foes.  In spite of all, though He was sometimes weighed down and depressed by it all, He kept the straight path of obedience to the will of God. At last, when He had perfected His obedience in life He offered Himself in death a sacrifice for our sins.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, teach me truly to believe in Thee, that I may the better know Thy love, and so may the more heartily love and follow Thee all the days of my life. Amen.

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