Archive for the ‘Trinitytide’ Category

Trinity Sunday


We are trying something new this week.  I am going to try to post the order worship for the Sunday services so that folks can practice the hymns and brush up on the Scripture for the day.


In our lesson from the Revelation to St. John, we have an echo of Isaiah’s vision in the Temple from Isaiah 6:3. Both the Prophet Isaiah and St. John saw the worship of God in heaven, which is characterized by the threefold acclamation, “Holy, holy, holy.” But although there are hints of the Trinity throughout the Old Testament, it in only in light of the Incarnation that we are granted that full revelation of God in three Persons. Thus, Isaiah’s prophecy looks forward to John’s vision, when we would understand that God is not just one (which he indeed is), but even more, three-in-one. And every time we celebrate the Eucharist, we echo the worship of God as seen by Isaiah and John, for we fall down before this altar proclaiming, “Holy, holy, holy,” to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Prayer Book

Opening Sentences                                   5
Invitation to Confession                          6
General Confession                                  6
Versicles and Responses                         7
Venite                                                          9
Psalms 29, 99 (responsively by verse) 373, 462
First Lesson-Revelation iv.1                   186
Te Deum Laudamus                                 10
Second Lesson-St. John iii.1                    187
Jubilate Deo                                                15
The Apostle’s Creed                                  15
Versicles and Responses                          17
The Lord’s Prayer                                       7
Prayers                                                     16 & 186
Sermon-The Rev. Canon Charles H. Nalls


HYMNAL (11:00 A.M.)                               PRAYER BOOK

266 Processional Hymn (Nicaea)
Introit (Bulletin insert)
Collect for Purity                                  67
Summary of the Law                           69
710  Kyrie eleison, (Willan)                        70
713  Gloria in excelsis (Willan)                  84
Collect of the Day                                 186
The Epistle-Revelation iv.1                186

Gradual & Alleluia Verse (bulletin insert)
Gospel-St. John iii. 1                             187
Nicene Creed                                         71
267   Sermon Hymn (Regent Square)
Sermon – The Rev. Canon Charles H. Nalls
Offertory proper (Bulletin insert)
171   Offertory Hymn (Bromley)
171   Doxology (Bromley) Intercessions of the Faithful 74
General Confession                             75
Absolution & Comfortable Words     76
Sursum Corda                                       76
711/797 Sanctus & Benedictus (Willan)   77

Canon of Consecration                        80
Lord’s Prayer                                         82
Peace of the Lord
712 Agnus Dei (Willan)
Prayer of Humble Access                   82
Communion Hymns-208 (Penetentia); 251 (Gentle Jesus)
Communion Prayer
Post-communion Thanksgiving         83
Communio (Bulletin insert)
V: Depart in peace:
R: Thanks be to God!                       84
463  Recessional Hymn (Hereford)






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(Given at Saint Alban’s, Richmond, Virginia)

“My brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able tostand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against fleshand blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

In the military, the Army in particular, there is a tradition of giving a coin to people who deserve recognition, to special visitors, or to commemorate a particular event.  These coins-called challenge coins-usually have the name of the particular command or a commander and perhaps a little motto on them.  The longer one is in the military, generally the more of these things one amasses, and together with various mugs, glasses, ball caps, t-shirts and belt buckles make up the kind of memorabilia collection that is guaranteed to annoy one’s wife.

We chaplains are not immune from the tradition, and senior chaplains typically hand out a challenge coin with an actual message. On the one side there is a set of ancient armor, a helmet, breastplate grieves and a sword.  On the other there are the words, “Put on the full armor of God.” These little coins are meant remind those who in harm’s way of the only true protection from the only real death, the armor of the Holy Spirit, of Word and of Sacrament that ward against eternal death. And you know. the military metaphor has had a strong attraction for Christians for two millenia. In fact, these images were common throughout both Old Testament/Jewish apocalyptic literature and in in the New Testament. There is a frequent use of military images by Christian writers at this time also—For example, in 2 Corinthians (10:3-4) we hear that “…though we walk in the flesh,we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;).  Again, in I Thessalonians (5:8-10), “…let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.”

These images are woven into the fabric of Christian tradition.  In St. Jerome’s commentary on the passage we learn that From what we read of the Lord our Savior throughout the Scriptures, it is manifestly clear that the whole armor of Christ is the Savior himself. It is he whom we are asked to “put on.” It is one and the same thing to say “Put on the whole armor of God” and “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Our belt is truth and our breastplate is righteousness. The Savior is also called both “truth” and “righteousness.” So no one can doubt that he himself is that very belt and breastplate. On this principle he is also to be understood as the“preparation of the gospel of peace.” He himself is the “shield of faith” and the “helmet of salvation.” He is the “sword of the Spirit,” because he is the Word of God, living and efficacious, the utterance of which is stronger than any helmet and sharp on both sides. (Epistle to the Ephesians

And in music, we have stirring hymns–like Onward Christian Soldiers and Saint Patrick’s Breastplate that call the Church militant to battle against the forces of the prince of the world or invoke the strong protection of the Trinity in this struggle.  In one of the hymns I selected for my ordination–Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus–we hear the stirring lyrics that echo today’s epistle passage:

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, Stand in His strength alone; The arm of flesh will fail you, Ye dare not trust your own. Put on the gospel armor, And watching unto prayer;
Where duty calls or danger, Be never wanting there.

This is a seemingly simple verse from a rousing hymn, but when we look to the Epistle, our task is a bit more complex as St. Paul emphasizes the combative nature of the Christian
encounter with this world.  Christians are strengthened by putting on the Gospel armor–the “whole armor” of God to protect and prepare them for their encounter with “the wiles of the devil” that
will assault them. The whole armor refers to the entire stock of protective apparatus available to soldiers going into combat — a wholeness that is necessary so that no unprotected surfaces are open to harm.
That Christians “stand” against these forces reasserts the simple foot-soldier image of the Christian — those who may expect to combat the enemy at close quarters, hand-to-hand and face-to-face.

This battle requires God’s strength because the opponents facing believers are not other human beings (“flesh and blood”) but “cosmic powers of this present darkness.”  While St. Paul offers
apocalyptic imagery, the battle that confronts Christians is in the here and now, the “present darkness” and not some distant future. And, it is a battle with a terrorist: a spiritual terrorist.
St. John Chrysostom wrote in his Homily on Ephesians that, “The enemy does not make war on us straightforwardly or openly but by his wiles. What are the devil’s wiles? They consist in trying to capture us by some shortcut and always by deceit…. The devil never openly lays temptation before us. He does not mention idolatry out loud. But by his stratagems he presents idolatrous
choices to us, by persuasive words and by employing clever euphemisms.”

This kind of warfare is akin to dealing with a terrorist—in this case a genuine master of terror who makes use of a bomb-maker. The bomb-maker frequently conceals the deadly within the familiar or
even welcome things of life-a child’s stuffed toy or in an innocent looking Christmas package. The target of destruction welcomes it, brings it inside and it explodes with devastating effect–maiming and killing.
Yet, unlike suicide bombers and other assorted folk who make up terrorist cells, the encounter St. Paul describes is not with human beings.  Even the world rulers mentioned in the passage should be understood in slightly Gnostic terms as dark spirits who have made both this world and the “heavenly places” potential regions for their dominion. And aren’t we familiar with this type of ruler these days?

Having revealed the frighteningly powerful forces that oppose the faithful, the St. Paul urges us to take full advantage of the protection God offers, the “armor” that is our only hope to withstand that “evil day” which, signifies the time in which we live. St. Paul then begins the next section of exhortations with more military language, encouraging the Christian “soldier” to “stand”–to stand up as a Christian and for Christ against the enemy. Again, in the words of St. John Chrysostom, every Christian home is a bit like a military encampment, and God stands ready to provide His armor to those within.

For we are able to stand only by wearing this promised armor–spiritual armor– that Godprovides. As we have noted, the items St. Paul describes are all part of a standard armored soldier’s wardrobe, and each piece protects and prepares the soldier for combat in a particular way. Let’s take a closer look. The firsttask in battle is to learn how to stand firmly, and the “belt” or “girdle” of truth plays a dual function. First, its complete encircling of the faithful supports the Christian wholly, leaving no part unprotected. Second, the soldier’s belt was also a place to store other weapons, showing that the truth of God’s love through Christ also provides Christians with a grounding for other convictions — salvation, deliverance, inheritance.

Next, the “breastplate” of the soldier protects the most vital and vulnerable places, i.e., the throat, heart and lungs–we see them in modern infantry in the ubiquitous flack jacket. God;s righteousness functions similarly for Christians confronting evil. Without the unyielding righteousness of God, we, too, wouldnever be free from the threat of some mortal blow. God’s protective righteousness is also described in the book of the prophet Isaiah (11:4-5 and 59:17) with the same type of military image and offering the same symbolic shielding.  But, as we hear from St. Paul, righteousness is not as strong as faith, because righteousness lives by faith.  What are those words from the Mass–we do not come to Thy table trusting in our own righteousness?  So the breastplate is not bulletproof, it must be linked to another part of our armor–faith.

The “shoes” with which believers must be shod are surprisingly less clearly defined than the other armored accoutrements. Traditionally soldiers wore sturdy sandals or even boots that had nails driven through the soles. These could then act as cleats, helping the battling soldier to “dig in” effectively against an opponent. But St. Paul doesn’t specify a particular style of shoes; instead, he leaves open the question of what “will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.”  St. Jerome describes our footwear as something that enables us to prepare us to walk, to press on to our goal in Christ.

The mention of “peace” in the midst of martial images startling–“your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.”  It highlights the radicaldifference between the gospel Jesus offers and the violent discord the “spiritual forces of evil” pour out upon the world. For those “in Christ,” however, no matter how much chaos swirls about them, they can stand firm within a calming peace — for Christ is our peace and our stability on an often shifting battlefield (Ephesians 2:14).

However vague St. Paulmight be about the foot covering, the description of the “shield of faith” is quite detailed. The image of the Epistle refers to the ancient tradition of taking the heavy wood, cloth and
hide-covered shields of the front-line soldiers and dipping them into water just before the battle. The shield soaked up this water and retained its wetness for quite some time. In this way when the enemy rained down flaming, pitch-covered arrows on the advancing troops, the arrows that embedded themselves in the wet shields harmlessly went out, instead of engulfing the shield and its soldier in flames.

The shield of faith carries all of the capital virtues and brings them tofulfillment.  Unless we are armed with this shield we simply won’t have the strength to battle courageously and to resist all of the deadly powers.  Those fiery darts of temptation and perverse desires are extinguished on the shield of faith.  For if faith is capable of commanding hosts of demons, how much more is it capable of ordering the passions of our souls.

The “helmet of salvation” is another military image borrowed from Isaiah (59:17). But what is part of God’s own armament against injustice and evil is now given over to protect those standing faithfully in the fight. By being given God’s own “helmet,” St. Paul demonstrates just how directly and personally our salvation comes from God.  In the words of Jerome, because of this helmet, the senses of our head remain intact–for if Christ our salvation is at our head, we won’t lose it.

The final piece of equipment itemized here is the only potentially offensive weapon– the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Note that though the Spirit is mentioned, the Spirit itself is not a sword, but the Spirit works through the word of God. It is the Spirit’s vitality and strength which lends the sharp cutting edge to the sword which every believer can wield: God’s holy word. It allows us to cut away at the sins that beset us and focus on the true prize, Jesus Christ.

But Christians have yet another piece of armament on which they may rely, anotherpositive power that gives that extra added protection — prayer. The “war” Ephesians envisions is fought with both the power of prayer and the sword-like word of God. The final exhortation to pray may initially seem like an unusual demand in the midst of all this military imagery, but for St. Paul it is a major weapon in the Christian’s arsenal. Verses 18-20 outline how this state of constant prayer is to be attained — we must “keep alert” and “persevere.”

Constant prayer was greatly emphasized in the early church community — and it is surely  commended to us in these times–for it is only by remaining in a state of constant contact with God that we may feel assured that God’s protective presence remained near at hand. By persevering in prayer “for all the saints” — that is, for all those who are members of the body of Christ — the bond between individual Christians is strengthened and tightened and the armor of God protects all. So, we are armed to our utmost protection and, in the words of the hymn, we are watching unto prayer. What remains?  Only to call upon our King and urge Him to extend His hand that like St. Paul we may be ambassadors, of Christ, open our mouths boldly, and make known the mystery of the Gospel.  Amen.

-The Very Reverend Canon Charles H. Nalls

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