Oct 31- Sasaki & Tsen

Oct 31- Sasaki & Tsen

Paul Shinji Sasaki + Philip Lindel Tsen
Bishop of Mid-Japan + Bishop of Honan, China
31 October 1946 + 1954

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From the Satucket Lectionary

Bp. Paul Sasaki
Bp. Paul Sasaki

Sasaki, Paul Shinji, Bishop of Tokyo, Japan [1885-1946] and Philip Lendel Tsen Bishop of Honan, China [d. June 6, 1954]. Sasaki was a bishop of Nippon Sei Ko Kai (the Anglican Church in Japan) who endured much persecution for his beliefs. In 1937, Tsen and Sasaki attended the 1937 Synod in Canada where they publicly bore witness to the unity among Asian Christians despite the Sino-Japanese war. Sasaki was tortured and imprisoned by the Japanese government in 1944. Bishop Tsen was raised by American missionaries, but after his priestly ordination became involved with a Canadian mission group. He helped sustain the people of his district during the bitter war with Japan. At the end of WW2, he became the leader of the Chinese Anglican Church. Returning from the 1948 Lambeth meeting, he was placed under house arrest by the Communist government.

- from the description in Holy Women, Holy Men

Oct 29 – James Hannington & Companions

Oct 29 - James Hannington & Companions

James Hannington & Companions
Martyrs of Uganda
29 October 1885

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From the Satucket Lectionary

James HanningtonAmong the new nations of Africa, Uganda is the most predominantly Christian. Mission work began there in the 1870’s with the favor of King Mutesa, who died in 1884. However, his son and successor, King Mwanga, opposed all foreign presence, including the missions.

James Hannington, born 1847, was sent out from England in 1884 by the Anglican Church as missionary Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa. As he was travelling toward Uganda, he was apprehended by emissaries of King Mwanga. He and his companions were brutally treated and, a week later, 29 October 1885, most of them were put to death. Hannington’s last words were: “Go tell your master that I have purchased the road to Uganda with my blood.”

The first native martyr was the Roman Catholic Joseph Mkasa Balikuddembe, who was beheaded after having rebuked the king for his debauchery and for the murder of Bishop Hannington. On 3 June 1886, a group of 32 men and boys, 22 Roman Catholic and 10 Anglican, were burned at the stake. Most of them were young pages in Mwanga’s household, from their head-man, Charles Lwanga, to the thirteen-year-old Kizito, who went to his death “laughing and chattering.” These and many other Ugandan Christians suffered for their faith then and in the next few years.

In 1977, the Anglican Archbishop Janani Luwum and many other Christians suffered death for their faith under the tyrant Idi Amin.

Thanks largely to their common heritage of suffering for their Master, Christians of various communions in Uganda have always been on excellent terms.

 

by James Kiefer

Oct 28 – Simon & Jude

Oct 28 - Simon & Jude

Saints Simon & Jude
Apostles
28 October NT

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From the Satucket Lectionary
Christ teaching his disciples, from a 19thC BCPOn the various New Testament lists of the Twelve Apostles (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13), the tenth and eleventh places are occupied by Simon the Zealot (also called Simon the “Cananean,” the Aramaic word meaning “Zealot”) and by Judas of James, also called Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus. (“Judas” in New Testament contexts corresponds to “Judah” in Old Testament ones. Note that masculine names ending in “-ah” when translated from Hebrew directly to English usually end in “-as” when the translation passes through Greek, since in Greek a terminal “-a” is normally feminine, but a terminal “-as” is normally masculine. Thus we have “Elijah” => “Elias,” “Jeremiah” => “Jeremias,” etc.)

Some ancient Christian writers say that Simon and Jude went together as missionaries to Persia, and were martyred there. If this is true, it explains, to some extent, our lack of historical information on them and also why they are usually put together.

Simon is not mentioned by name in the New Testament except on these lists. Some modern writers have used his surname as the basis for conjectures associating him, and through him Jesus and all His original followers, with the Zealot movement described by Josephus, a Jewish independence movement devoted to assassination and violent insurrection. However, there were many movements that were called Zealot, not all alike, and Josephus tells us (Jewish War 4,3,9) that the movement he is describing did not arise until shortly before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.


Judas (often called Jude in English, but the Greek has Judas) is variously named, but this is not surprising. Before the Crucifixion, there would be a need to distinguish him among the apostles from Judas Iscariot, and after the Crucifixion there would be an additional reason for being emphatic about the distinction. “Thaddaeus” is possibly a variant of “Theudas,” which in turn is perhaps used as a Greek equivalent of “Judas” (with the Hebrew Name of God replaced by the Greek “theos”). Since the Aramaic “thad” means “chest,” we may suppose either that “Theudas” was re-Semiticized by a folk-etymology or that Judas received the nickname “Thaddeus” directly. I assume that the nickname suggests a brawny lad. “Lebbaeus,” according to Young’s Concordance, means “man of heart,” and so may be a variant of “Thaddaeus,” but there is a lot of linguistic conjecture flying around here. (Note: It is not suggested that the Judas => Theudas => Thaddaeus => Lebbaeus linguistic derivation took place with the Apostle personally, but that the names were considered in his day to be vaguely equivalent, as today in England the names Mary and Polly, or Margaret and Peggy, or Edward, Ed, Ted, and Ned, are considered to be equivalent, or as today many Jewish names are considered in some Jewish circles to have Gentile equivalents (Moishe = Maurice, Yitzak = Isadore, Yaakov = Jack, Label = Larry, Shmuel = Shawn, etc.). The reader will have noticed mention of “Thomas, surnamed Didymus,” and will note that these names are Aramaic and Greek respectively, both meaning “twin.”)

After the Last Supper it was Jude who asked Our Lord why he chose to reveal Himself only to the disciples. He received the reply: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:22f)

The ninth name on the lists of Apostles is that of James (the son) of Alphaeus. Although most modern translations render “Judas of James” as “Judas the son of James,” there has been a tendency to understand it as “Judas the brother of James” and to assume that these two apostles were brothers. This assumption in turn leads to an identification of the two with the “brothers of the Lord” of the same name. The difficulty with this is that the brothers (at least some of them) did not believe in Jesus until after the Resurrection, and therefore could not have been part of the Twelve.

The New Testament Epistle of Jude was written by “Judas the brother of James,” which could refer to either Jude. In any case, we commemorate on this day (1) Simon the Zealot, one of the original Twelve; (2) Judas of James (also called Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus), also one of the original Twelve; and (3) Jude (or Judas) the brother of James and author of the Epistle, without settling the question of whether (2) and (3) are the same person.

The Epistle of Jude is a brief document addressed to the Church, and warns against corrupt influences that have crept in. It has some obscure and baffling references to old Jewish traditions, but it includes a memorable exhortation to “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints,” and an even more memorable closing:

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding great joy, to the only wise God, or Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.


Jude is often, in popular usage, referred to as the patron of desperate causes, the “saint of last resort,” the one you ask for help when all else fails. Some readers will wonder what this is all about.

Since his name reminds hearers of Judas Iscariot, there is a tendency for someone asking a Christian brother now with the Lord for intercessory prayers to try one of the other apostles first. Hence, Jude has come to be called “the saint of last resort,” the one whom you ask only when desperate.

Doubtless, you want to hear my personal opinion on this business of invocation of saints. Since you insist….

In the first place, the expression, “praying to Saint X” is misleading and unfortunate. In older English “pray” simply meant to request politely. Thus, in the KJV, we read that Jesus boarded Simon Peter‘s ship and “prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land.” (L 5:3) Thus, the idea of “praying to Saint X” is simply the idea of asking a fellow Christian to intercede with God on one’s behalf. It is not different in principle from asking your Christian roommate to pray for you. However, in modern English, the word “pray” is generally understood to refer to worship. I therefore urge everyone who talks about “praying to Saint X” to modernize his language and instead talk about “asking Saint X to join me in praying to God for the recovery of my sick aunt,” or whatever. The other way of talking can mislead others, and it can mislead the speaker.

That was a preliminary comment on terminology. Now to the question. Undoubtedly asking one’s fellow Christians in heaven for their prayers is something that can be abused. It can readily degenerate into the notion that getting what you want from God is a matter of knowing what channels to go through, what strings to pull. One ends up thinking of heaven as a place like the seat of a corrupt government (whether Washington or Versailles), where favors are traded and deals are made by influence peddlers. But the fact that something can be abused does not mean that we ought to give up its proper use. And surely one of the most valuable truths of the Christian faith is that God’s love for us moves us to love in return, not only God but also one another, so that every Christian is a mirror in which the light of Christ is reflected to every other Christian. The Scriptures seem to show that God delights in giving us gifts through others when He could just as easily have given them directly. When Paul on the road to Damascus asks, “Lord, what will you have me do?” God does not tell him, but sends Ananias to tell him instead (A 9:1-19). When the centurion Cornelius is praying, God sends an angel to speak to him, but the angel does not preach the Gospel to him. It tells him to send for a man called Peter, and Peter comes and preaches the Gospel to him (A 10). God wants us to owe our spiritual well-being, not just to Him, but also to one another. Hence He has told us to pray for one another. Nor is the bond of Christian love broken by death. The martyrs under the altar in John’s vision (Rev 6:9ff) pray for the church on earth. Even the Rich Man in Hell, in Jesus’ parable, intercedes for his five brothers on earth. Are we to suppose that the saved are less compassionate than the damned?

Is this an important part of my faith, you ask. Well, it is certainly an important doctrine that Jesus said: “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” To feel myself surrounded by the love of God and of my fellow Christians, living and dead, is important. To love in return, by praying for my fellow Christians as well as for my own concerns, is important. It is not for nothing that Jesus taught us to pray: “Give US OUR daily bread, and forgive US OUR sins.” Do I spend a significant fraction of my prayer time asking various Christians now in heaven for their prayers. No, just as I do not spend a lot of time asking my fellow Christians here on earth for their prayers. But I do ask for, and value, the prayers of my fellow Christians, living and dead; and I delight in the knowledge that when I praise God, my voice is part of a great chorus of praise in which angels, glorified and perfected saints, saints still on their pilgrimage, and even (in ways befitting their natures) beasts, plants, and inanimate objects join together. “Let all things praise the LORD.” Amen.

by James Kiefer

 

 

Oct 26 – Alfred the Great

Oct 26 - Alfred the Great

Alfred the Great
King + Christ Follower
26 October 899

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From the Satucket Lectionary

portrait of Alfred the GreatWhen the Gospel was first preached in Britain, the island was inhabited by Celtic peoples. In the 400’s, pagan Germanic tribes, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, invaded Britain and drove the Christian Celts out of what is now England into Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. The new arrivals (called collectively the Anglo-Saxons) were then converted by Celtic missionaries moving in from the one side and Roman missionaries moving in from the other. (They then sent missionaries of their own, such as Boniface, to their pagan relatives on the Continent.)

In the 800’s the cycle partly repeated itself, as the Christian Anglo-Saxons were invaded by the Danes, pagan raiders, who rapidly conquered the northeast portion of England. They seemed about to conquer the entire country and eliminate all resistance when they were turned back by Alfred, King of the West Saxons.

Alfred was born in 849 at Wantage, Berkshire, youngest of five sons of King Aethelwulf. He wished to become a monk, but after the deaths (all in battle, I think) of his father and his four older brothers, he was made king in 871. He proved to be skilled at military tactics, and devised a defensive formation which the Danish charge was unable to break. After a decisive victory at Edington in 878, he reached an agreement with the Danish leader Guthrum, by which the Danes would retain a portion of northeastern England and be given other concessions in return for their agreement to accept baptism and Christian instruction. From a later point of view, it seems obvious that such a promise could not involve a genuine change of heart, and was therefore meaningless (and indeed, one Dane complained that the white robe that he was given after his baptism was not nearly so fine as the two that he had received after the two previous times that he had been defeated and baptized). However, Alfred’s judgement proved sound. Guthrum, from his point of view, agreed to become a vassal of Christ. His nobles and chief warriors, being his vassals, were thereby obligated to give their feudal allegiance to Christ as well. They accepted baptism and the presence among them of Christian priests and missionaries to instruct them. The door was opened for conversions on a more personal level in that and succeeding generations.

In his later years, having secured a large degree of military security for his people, Alfred devoted his energies to repairing the damage that war had done to the cultural life of his people. He translated Boethius’ Consolations of Philosophy into Old English, and brought in scholars from Wales and the Continent with whose help various writings of Bede, Augustine of Canterbury, and Gregory the Great were likewise translated. He was much impressed by the provisions in the Law of Moses for the protection of the rights of ordinary citizens, and gave order that similar provisions should be made part of English law. He promoted the education of the parish clergy. In one of his treatises, he wrote:
“He seems to me a very foolish man, and very wretched, who will not increase his understanding while he is in the world, and ever wish and long to reach that endless life where all shall be made clear.”

He died on 26 October 899, and was buried in the Old Minster at Winchester. Alone among English monarchs, he is known as “the Great.”

The writer G K Chesterton has written a long narrative poem about Alfred, called, “The Ballad of the White Horse.” In my view, it would be improved by abridgement (I would, for example, terminate the prologue after the line “And laid peace on the sea”), but I think it well worth reading as it stands, both for the history and (with minor reservations) for the theology.

by James Kiefer


A contemporaneous biography of Alfred is available online.

Oct 23 – James of Jerusalem

Oct 23 - James of Jerusalem

James of Jerusalem
Bishop + Martyr
23 October NT

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From the Satucket Lectionary

Icon of St. James of JerusalemJames of Jerusalem is referred to in the New Testament as the brother of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

He was for many years the leader of the Christian congregation in Jerusalem, and is generally supposed to be the author of the Epistle of James, although the Epistle itself does not state this explicitly.

James is mentioned briefly in connection with Jesus’ visit to Nazareth (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3).

We are told that Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him (John 7:2-5), and from this, and from references in early Christian writers, it is inferred that James was not a disciple of the Lord until after the Resurrection.

Paul, listing appearances of the Risen Lord (1 Cor 15:3-8), includes an appearance to James.

Peter, about to leave Jerusalem after escaping from Herod, leaves a message for James and the Apostles (Acts 12:17). When a council meets at Jerusalem to consider what rules Gentile Christians should be required to keep, James formulates the final consensus (Acts 15:13-21).

Paul speaks of going to Jerusalem three years after his conversion and conferring there with Peter and James (Gal. 1:18-19), and speaks again of a later visit (perhaps the one described in Acts 15) on which Peter, James, and John, “the pillars,” placed their stamp of approval on the mission to the Gentiles (Gal. 2:9).

A few verses later (Gal. 2:11-14), he says that messengers from James coming to Antioch discouraged Jewish Christians there from eating with Gentile Christians. (If this refers to the same event as Acts 15:1-2, then Paul takes a step back chronologically in his narration at Gal. 2:11, which is not improbable, since he is dictating and mentioning arguments and events that count as evidence for his side as they occur to him.)

On his last recorded visit to Jerusalem, Paul visits James (others are present, but no other names are given) and speaks of his ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 21:18).

Outside the New Testament, James is mentioned by the Jewish historian Josephus, who calls him “the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ,” and reports that he was much respected even by the Pharisees for his piety and strict observance of the Law, but that his enemies took advantage of an interval between Roman governors in 62 AD to have him put to death. His death is also reported by the second-century Christian writer Hegesippus.

Numerous references in early Christian documents show the esteem in which he was held in the early Church.

There appear to be at least three persons named James mentioned in the New Testament, and possibly as many as eight. For an attempt to sort them out, see the BIO of Philip and James at 1 May.

by James Kiefer

Oct 19 – Henry Martyn

Oct 19 - Henry Martyn

Henry Martyn
Translator + Missionary to India & Persia
19 October 1812

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From the Satucket Lectionary

portrait of henry martynHenry Martyn was born in 1781, studied at Cambridge, and became Senior Wrangler. (That is, he won the Cambridge University annual mathematics problem-solving competition, and was accordingly recognized as the University’s best undergraduate mathematician. “Wrangling” is a British University expression for solving mathematical problems.) He had, moreover, a considerable facility in languages. Under the encouragement of Charles Simeon (see 12 Nov 1836), he abandoned his intention of going into law and instead went to India as a chaplain in 1806. In the six remaining years of his life, he translated the New Testament into Hindi and Persian, revised an Arabic translation of the New Testament, and translated the Psalter into Persian and the Prayer Book into Hindi. In 1811 he left India for Persia, hoping to do further translations and to improve his existing ones, there and in Arabia. But travel in those days was not a healthy occupation, and he fell ill and eventually died at Tokat on October 16, 1812. (The American Calendar commemorates him on 19 October.) He was buried by the Armenian church there, with the honors ordinarily reserved for one of their own bishops. His diary (vol. 1, vol. 2) has been called “one of the most precious treasures of Anglican devotion.”

by James Kiefer

 

Oct 19 – William Carey

Oct 19 - William Carey

William Carey
Translator + Missionary to India
19 October 1834

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From the SCLM Lectionary

William Carey DD, Professor of Sanskrit, Marat...

William Carey DD, Professor of Sanskrit, Marathi and Bengali in Calcutta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

William Carey was an English Baptist missionary and was a major figure in developing the Protestant missionary movement of the nineteenth century.

Born a son of the Church of England in 1761, Carey took an early interest in his studies and excelled at languages, a gift that would serve him in his ministry. After his village schooling, Carey apprenticed as a cobbler where he came into contact with a fellow worker who was a Nonconformist. Carey was challenged by this relationship and he eventually left the Church of England and became a Congregationalist. Carey developed into a master cobbler, married, and with his wife, Dorothy, had six children, only three of which survived childhood. During his years as a master cobbler, Carey’s interest in languages became a passionate avocation; he learned Italian, French, Dutch, and Hebrew, while increasing his mastery of Latin, a language he had taught himself as a youngster.

Carey’s spiritual quest continued. He was re-baptized in 1783 and was a Baptist for the remainder of his life. He became a schoolmaster and served as a Baptist pastor while struggling with his responsibility to foreign missions. He was among the founders in 1792 of what would become the Baptist Missionary Society. Finally, in 1793, Carey and company set out for India.

After transitional periods in Calcutta and Midnapore, Carey and his fellow missionaries settled in Serampore in 1800 where Carey would spend the rest of his life. He was appointed a professor at Fort Williams College, which had been founded to educate the children of civil servants. While teaching, Carey translated the Bible into Bengali and Sanskrit and the New Testament into other Indian languages and dialects, in addition to providing translations of other Christian literature. Carey also completed a Bengali-English dictionary and other linguistic tools to support missionary work.

In 1818, Carey’s mission established Serampore College for the dual purpose of training indigenous ministers and providing a classical education to anyone regardless of caste or national origin.

William Carey died on June 9, 1834, and was buried in Serampore.