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Archive for the ‘Lent’ Category


Carry the Cross

Jesus was condemned by the Jewish council.  He was and given up by Pilate first to be scourged, and then to be crucified.

Today He hung upon the cross, His head crowned with thorns, His hands and feet nailed, His failing eyes dimmed with blood, His parching throat raging with thirst.

As yet He has not spoken, except one cry which, with eyes lifted up to heaven, He uttered when, with a harsh shock, the cross had been fixed in its place, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

His Mother and the disciple whom He loved stand below, together with St. Mary Magdalene, but at the word of Jesus that disciple took Mary unto his own home, returning, however, himself to Calvary. The elders around the cross are mocking and taunting Him: not sparing even His dying pains, and the thieves join with them therein. But the prayer and the patience of Jesus have their effect on one of them, and he is enraptured with the promise that that very day he shall be with his Saviour in the rest of Paradise.

Darkness has been gathering around, startling the watchers and the crowd, and now from the midst of that darkness bursts suddenly forth a great and exceeding bitter cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Peace, however, to some degree returns, and He asks for water. Then comes the first cry of victory achieved, “It is finished.” Then comes the exclamation of perfect peace, “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.+

A soldier pierced His side, and the fountain was opened for sin and for uncleanness.

Prayer

Wash me, O my Savior, in Thine own blood, and as Thou didst lay down Thy life to redeem me from all iniquity, help me now to crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts, that, overcoming by Thy grace all temptations. I may follow Thee in Thy path of obedience; so that my life may be blessed, and my death may be peaceful, and I may hereafter reign with Theo in the glory to which Thou art now restored, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost, art blessed and glorified, one God, world without end Amen.

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wednesday

At length the Lord’s ministry of teaching and healing is over, and that He may prepare Himself and His disciples for the last conflict which He is to maintain, and they are in part to witness, He and they spent this day in quiet retirement. But one of them was absent. Judas Iscariot had gone to the chief priests to inquire, “What will ye give me, and I will betray Him unto you?”

They gladly made an arrangement with him, and he readily, nay greedily, accepted their offer, and agreed to betray his Master who bad chosen him, had admitted him to His friendship, had trusted to him so as to give him the office of providing for the wants of the little company, and had lived His life of gentle innocence for the last three years in his presence. The reward they offered was small; so small indeed that the offer of it by them and the acceptance of it by him was in itself an insult to Him for whose life they were bargaining, but the covetous disciple grasped at it eagerly. It was but the fixed value of a Hebrew slave.

So, Judas, instead of resisting the temptation, gave place to the devil, and the devil entered into him. He yielded: Satan triumphed. The two were working together; and so, when the work was done, Judas hurried himself into the presence of his Judge, and went to his own place. How dangerous is a grasping, greedy, covetous spirit! What will not men sometimes do to gain money, rank, power, popularity!

The Lord Jesus Christ has been betrayed again and again since that time by those who, preferring such things before Him, have practically renounced Him that they may gain them. But sin pays very poorly. The reward of Judas was very small, and caused him no satisfaction, but the bitterest remorse, when he had received it. So it must always be. Let me watch and pray against temptation, lest perchance, like Judas, I should choose something else rather than Jesus, my Lord, and be led into sin against Him that I may gain it.

Prayer

Save me, Blessed Saviour, from the bitter remorse of an awakened conscience by helping me to choose Thee before all things, and to be faithful to Thee in all things, I humbly beseech Thee. Amen.

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Tuesday in Holy Week

“…as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders,”-St. Mark 11:27.

A leave-taking has generally something of sadness about it; but more so if anyone has from pure love and affectionate interest been striving for the good of others.  However, if they have persistently rejected his endeavors and scornfully refused his aid, the sorrow with which he parts from them in their misguided blindness, will be great indeed. Such was the sorrow which the Lord Jesus felt. We hear that “He departed and did hide Himself from them.”

First, however, He spoke to them solemnly and plainly of their hypocrisy, hardness of heart, selfishness, and spiritual pride.  He pronounced woe again and again upon the scribes and Pharisees on account of these faults.

His burning words passed at length into tones of the most tender compassion. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” He exclaimed, “how often would I have gathered thy children together, and ye would not.” He would have gathered them, and they would not be gathered. Even now He pursues with tender entreaties and solemn warnings: “Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Then, He turned sadly away and departed. He had still much teaching for His disciples, but as regards the people His ministry of teaching was now over. He would have gathered them, but they would not be gathered.

A day will come when, if I have never sought Him, He will thus turn away from me also. I may be as they were, moral, respectable, and outwardly religious. Yet, He turned away from them, and He may turn away from me. He turned away from them because their religion did not consist in the love of God and of man.  He turned away because they were incapable of faith and moral earnestness.  Finally, He turned away because they had the form of godliness only, and while they cared much for the praise of men they thought little of the glory of God.

Prayer

Draw me, O Lord Jesu Christ, that I may seek Theo with my whole heart, and fill me with truth and love, I beseech Thee. Amen.

 

 

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Monday

The barren fig-tree on which our Lord passed sentence to-day was typical of the Jewish people, and, besides them, on the many who profess themselves His disciples now. True, the time was not the season of the year in which figs might most naturally be expected to be on a fig-tree. But this being so, why did it have leaves?

The leaves were enough to create an expectation that at least some of the winter figs might be still hanging upon the tree. The tree, however, produced nothing but leaves, plenty of them, but no fruit. No fruit, therefore, was it permitted to yield henceforth and for evermore.

Now, the fig-tree did no harm, but then, again, it did no good. It did not produce any fruit, either hurtful or useful. It was perhaps, to some slight extent, an ornament to the landscape, but it was of no practical use. The hungry looked to it in vain.

How is it with us? We have some means, time, abilities-what fruit are they bearing? Any or none? Are there any who are made happier or better by our respective endeavors? Let each of us think, am I like the barren fig-tree?

Among the parables which our Lord spoke on this day in the temple, the first is of husbandmen to whom had been committed a vineyard, but who used all the fruits of it for themselves. The vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the house of Israel.  (Isa. v.7) If that is the case, the individuals of that house were such also, or at least part of the one vineyard.

Again we each face pointed questions. What am I doing with my little part of the vineyard, that is, myself? Am I bringing forth fruit unto God? What is such fruit? The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Are these the fruits of my life? Am I like these husband-men, ready to cast the only Son out of His own vineyard, that is, out of my heart, that I may keep all for myself, my own indulgence and gratification? It is written of those husbandmen, “He will miserably destroy those wicked men,” and the sentence was executed on Israel. Let each of us keep that firmly in mind.

Prayer

O God the Holy Ghost, be Thou my guide and helper, I beseech Thee, that through Thy grace I may bring forth good fruit abundantly, and so glorify Thy Name. Amen.

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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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