Archive for the ‘Scripture’ Category

Psalms That Speak

I always am amazed, but never surprised, at the way Scripture speaks to my condition or needs at any given time. This particularly is the case with the Psalms.  This morning at Matins, we came around to Psalm 56.  It is spot on for me on this rainy Saturday.Psalm 56

Psalm 56. Miserere mei, Deus.
BE merciful unto me, O God, for man goeth about to devour me; * he is daily fighting, and troubling me.
2 Mine enemies are daily at hand to swallow me up; * for they be many that fight against me, O thou Most Highest.
3 Nevertheless, though I am sometime afraid, * yet put I my trust in thee.
4 I will praise God, because of his word: * I have put my trust in God, and will not fear what flesh can do unto me.
5 They daily mistake my words; * all that they imagine is to do me evil.
6 They hold all together, and keep themselves close, * and mark my steps, when they lay wait for my soul.
7 Shall they escape for their wickedness? * thou, O God, in thy displeasure shalt cast them down.
8 Thou tellest my wanderings1; put my tears into thy bottle: * are not these things noted in thy book?
9 Whensoever I call upon thee, then shall mine enemies be put to flight: * this I know; for God is on my side.
10 In God’s word will I rejoice; * in the LORD’S word will I comfort me.
11 Yea, in God have I put my trust; * I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.
12 Unto thee, O God, will I pay my vows; * unto thee will I give thanks.
13 For thou hast delivered my soul from death, and my feet from falling, * that I may walk before God in the light of the living.

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On Sunday, October 29th, the adult class will begin a four part study of angels and demons using Dr. Peter Kreeft’s book Angels (and Demons): What Do We really Know About Them? The class meets in the parish library from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. and will be open to adults and young adults.

The assignment for the first Sunday will be to find references to angels and the “other guys” using only the Bible and a concordance. Of particular interest will be any physical descriptions that the participants can find. In the second week, we will take up Kreeft’s discussion of angels from his book, and, in the third week we will discuss his descriptions of demons. Finally, in the last week of the course the class will have the opportunity to see a video lecture on the book by Dr. Kreef’s himself. This will take slightly more than an hour to view so the class will start promptly at 9:30.

To whet the appetite, the following is a list by Dr. Kreeft of the 12 most important things to know about angels. Be sure to invite a friend to what promises to be a lively and thought-provoking class.

1. They really exist. Not just in our minds, or our myths, or our symbols, or our culture. They are as real as your dog, or your sister, or electricity.
2. They’re present, right here, right now, right next to you, reading these words with you.
3. They’re not cute, cuddly, comfortable, chummy, or “cool”. They are fearsome and formidable. They are huge. They are warriors.
4. They are the real “extra-terrestrials”, the real “Super-men”, the ultimate aliens. Their powers are far beyond those of all fictional creatures.
5. They are more brilliant minds than Einstein.
6. They can literally move the heavens and the earth if God permits them.
7. There are also evil angels, fallen angels, demons, or devils. These too are not myths. Demon possessions, and exorcisms, are real.
8. Angels are aware of you, even though you can’t usually see or hear them. But you can communicate with them. You can talk to them without even speaking.
9. You really do have your very own “guardian angel”. Everybody does.
10. Angels often come disguised. “Do not neglect hospitality, for some have entertained angels unawares”—that’s a warning from life’s oldest and best instruction manual.
11. We are on a protected part of a great battlefield between angels and devils, extending to eternity.
12. Angels are sentinels standing at the crossroads where life meets death. They work especially at moments of crisis, at the brink of disaster—for bodies, for souls, and for nations.


Canon Nalls

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A tip of the biretta to John Dixon over at St. Athanasius for letting me know about Melville Scott’s The Harmony of the Collects, Epistles and Gospels. Originally published in 1902, this little gem is available in reprint from Lulu for $20.00 in hardcover or a paltry $10.00 in trade paperback.

Apart from the fact that the Lulu edition has a typeface that proves actually readable,  the book begins with an analysis of the themes and teachings of the Collects, Epistles, and Gospels of the Christians Year as set out in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.   Scott shows not only the theme of the day and how the lessons and collect relate to each other, but also how the propers for each Sunday interrelated with those of the Sundays both previous and following.

This is an outstanding “secret weapon” for preachers who use the traditional propers of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and with the 1928 American book favored by us unreconstructed traditionalist folk.  The book also serves well for laymen at two levels.  In the first and most basic instance, it affords folks a great devotional commentary to supplement the Sunday sermon.  Secondly, it shows the genius of an actual BCP (as opposed to post-1979 imitations) in presenting a cycle of Scripture that draws a parson into the themes of the Christian year and, eventually, brings newcomers to the Church into a common place in the annual readings with parishioners who have been around a bit longer.

The benefits to catechesis are apparent, and, a shared thematic approach to the propers is a great avenue for building community in parishes of any size.  Finally, the expository treatments of each lesson provide a great, off-the-shelf Bible study that works with the homily wherever the priest is preaching from the lessons appointed for particular Sundays.


A great companion to Scott’s book is the weightier Sermons on the Epistles and Gospels by Isaac Williams and also available from Lulu. (No, I don’t get a commission.)   Originally published in the mid-19th Century, this book is more a commentary on the Sunday propers than a short-cut for desperate preachers who are looking for a little something to fill up an otherwise blank page.

Williams’ sermons exhaustively cover the Epistle and Gospel lessons found in the eucharistic lectionary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and it works just fine for the 1928.  For each set of lessons, the reader has a solid exposition of the day’s Epistle as a lead-in to an exposition of the Gospel.  Williams then concludes with devotional thoughts and practical application of the text.  Williams does an remarkable job showing the theme of each set of lessons, and offers examples of how the lessons tie into the theme of the day.  In this way, the reader or the preacher (whether desperate or not) can handily move from exegesis to exposition to practical application.

The publisher, listed as The Anglican Expositor of British Columbia, deserves thanks for bringing these works back into an accessible, reasonably-priced, and well-made book.


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Our Wednesday Bible study has moved from First to Second Peter as we approach Advent.  Verses 5-11 of the first chapter form an interesting “ladder” describing growth in the spiritual life.

The text begins, of course, in verse 5 with faith to which we are to add virtue.  To virtue, we are to add knowledge.  In turn, St. Peter admonishes that we add temperance to knowledge, patience to temperance and Godliness to patience.

This progression allows the believer to break through to “brotherly kindness”, and, finally to charity.

Keeping to this pattern leads to growth, particularly in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Finally, as knowledge enhanced by the cardinal virtues grows, we return to the “everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

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A Psalm for The Day

This morning, we chanted Psalms 73 and 74 for Matins. (Yes, I know they are for Evening Prayer, but, we do the whole Psalter here at St. Alban’s.).  Psalm 73 seemed most appropriate to the circumstances today.  Here it is so that you may lift up your hearts:

TRULY God is loving unto Israel: * even unto such as are of a clean heart.

Nevertheless, my feet were almost gone, * my treadings had well-nigh slipt.

And why? I was grieved at the wicked: * I do also see the ungodly in such prosperity.

For they are in no peril of death; * but are lusty and strong.

They come in no misfortune like other folk; * neither are they plagued like other men.

And this is the cause that they are so holden with pride, * and cruelty covereth them as a garment.

Their eyes swell with fatness, * and they do even what they lust.

They corrupt other, and speak of wicked blasphemy; * their talking is against the Most High.

For they stretch forth their mouth unto the heaven, * and their tongue goeth through the world.

Therefore fall the people unto them, * and thereout suck they no small advantage.

Tush, say they, how should God perceive it? * is there knowledge in the Most High?

Lo, these are the ungodly, * these prosper in the world, and these have riches in possession:

And I said, Then have I cleansed my heart in vain, * and washed my hands in innocency.

All the day long have I been punished, * and chastened every morning.

Yea, and I had almost said even as they; * but lo, then I should have condemned the generation of thy children.

Then thought I to understand this; * but it was too hard for me,

Until I went into the sanctuary of God: * then understood I the end of these men;

Namely, how thou dost set them in slippery places, * and castest them down, and destroyest them.

O how suddenly do they consume, * perish, and come to a fearful end!

Yea, even like as a dream when one awaketh; * so shalt thou make their image to vanish out of the city.

Thus my heart was grieved, * and it went even through my reins.

So foolish was I, and ignorant, * even as it were a beast before thee.

Nevertheless, I am alway by thee; * for thou hast holden me by my right hand.

Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, * and after that receive me with glory.

Whom have I in heaven but thee? * and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of thee.

My flesh and my heart faileth; * but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

For lo, they that forsake thee shall perish; * thou hast destroyed all them that are unfaithful unto thee.

But it is good for me to hold me fast by God, to put my trust in the Lord GOD, * and to speak of all thy works in the gates of the daughter of Sion.

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On November 7th at 9:30 a.m., St. Alban’s Adult Sunday School will begin a study of the book of Esther.   Based on the LifeGuide study Esther: Character Under Pressure, this nine session course will explore how to develop a godly character in a society that does not emphasize doing right.  The opening class, Getting the Most Out of Esther. will introduce the study and provide study guides for the first chapter of Esther.  Please join us for this exploration of a powerful, yet under-studied part of Scripture.

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Topic: Sin Will Find Us Out

Covering up sin leads to severe consequences.

Read: Joshua 7

Who remembers Ai? Because of one man’s hidden sin, the Israelites were defeated in battle. In this session we will see that all humans are sinners, but our
sins don’t have to be fatal. Through Christ’s work on the Cross and confession of sin, we can find forgiveness.

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