TUESDAY THE THIRD OF JANUARY 2017
Lord, strengthen our faith
in your abiding care for us
so that we may live today
untroubled by fears
of what tomorrow may bring. Amen.
PSALM EIGHTEEN (abridged)
The Lord my God shall make my darkness to be bright.
I love you, O Lord my strength.
The Lord is my crag, my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock in whom I take refuge,
my shield, the horn of my salvation and my stronghold.
I cried to the Lord in my anguish
and I was saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entwined me
and the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the Pit fastened about me
and the snares of death entangled me.
In my distress I called upon the Lord
and cried out to my God for help.
He heard my voice in his temple
and my cry came to his ears.
He reached down from on high and took me;
he drew me out of the mighty waters.
He brought me out into a place of liberty;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.
Therefore will I give you thanks, O Lord,
among the nations
and sing praises to your name,
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
The Lord my God shall make my darkness to be bright.
From your royal throne, O God,
you sent your living Word
to pierce the gloom of oppression;
so, in our souls' night,
come with your saving help
and penetrate our darkness with the
rays of your glory
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Western Christians in India: evangelisation or empire building?
On this day in 1945, Vedanayagem Samuel Azariah died. He was the first indigenous Indian bishop in the Anglican Church of India. He was a strong advocate of ecumenism among India’s various Protestant congregations. He devoted his life to the spread of Christianity in his native land.
There have been Christians in India since at least the second century. Said to have been evangelised by Saint Thomas himself, the Mar Thoma Church usually looked for support from the Assyrian Church of the East or from the Syrian Orthodox Church. With the coming of European explorers, western Christians often came along, and with an air or racial or cultural superiority, attempted to impose their western ways on these ancient churches. Before long, the divided churches of the West were all establishing footholds in India. The question is asked: were these churches honestly involved in spreading the gospel of Jesus, or did they simply represent the softer side of European empire building? In the case of Bishop Azariah, it was a genuine desire to share the gospel which motivated his life and ministry.
Azariah was a mainstream broad church Anglican with a high priority for evangelism and much of his preaching centred on the resurrection. His ministry cut across class lines and focused heavily on rural “untouchables” caste members. The bishop’s traditional Anglicanism frustrated many Indian political leaders, who hoped he would be a leading voice for Indian nationalism.
Azariah also took sharp issue with Mahatma Gandhi, who was unalterably opposed to Christians trying to convert Indians. Azariah saw conversion as foundational to Christian mission. Gandhi acknowledged the dominant Hindu religion needed reform, but Azariah went further and said it was repressive and grounded in a destructive caste system. He said, “It is by proclamation of the truth that the early Church turned the world upside down... It is this that will today redeem Indian society and emancipate it from the thraldom of centuries.”
By 1935 Bishop Azariah’s diocese had two hundred and fifty ordained Indian clergy and over two thousand village teachers, plus a growing number of medical clinics, cooperative societies, and printing presses. Traveling over the vast diocese by bullock cart or bicycle, and accompanied by his wife and coworker, Anbu, Azariah often built his village sermons around “the four demons – Dirt, Disease, Debt, and Drink.” He believed in adapting liturgy to local cultures. Epiphany Cathedral, which took a quarter century to build, was an architectural statement of the bishop’s vision, mixing Muslim, Hindu, and Christian designs. He saw it as a visual statement of the gifts and beauty of other faith traditions finding their fulfilment in Christianity.
Scripture. In Psalm Thirty-Seven, at verses twenty-three and twenty-four, we read:
"Our steps are made firm by the LORD, when he delights in our way; though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the LORD holds us by the hand."
... for peace in the world.
... for the Christians of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, in particular for their protection from attack by those of other faiths.
... for an end to all caste systems in whatever form they take and wherever they are found.
... for real and loving communion between the different denominations of the Church and for those work for such closeness.
... for those killed or injured during two suicide car bomb attacks in Iraq's capital, Baghdad. DETAILS
... for those who have died and for those who mourn their passing.
... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.
... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
... for ourselves.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
From "Fellowship with God" by William Temple:
The solution of our temporal problems is only to be found in the eternal sphere.
What are those temporal lessons?
Briefly stated, they are the futility of political organisation without change of heart; the impossibility of securing by any kind of force the only social order that will satisfy. We have looked at the League of Nations and said wisely that only if men care more for mankind and for justice than for their own country and its interests can this new organisation produce the result for which it is set up. We have looked at industrial troubles and said wisely that only if men prefer patriotism and justice to personal or class interest can economic welfare or social peace be won. Those are the temporal lessons of this time; and though the teaching of Christ sums them up as no other does, yet any pagan or agnostic can read them as plainly as the most earnest Christian.
It is not chiefly moral principles that are lacking; what the world needs to-day is power to live by the principles which are professed. Such wise comments on the situation of the world as I have described really amount to this: If all men were unselfish instead of selfish the evils of the world would disappear. But how is that transformation to be accomplished?
Many at least of the world's worst evils are the result, not of appalling and outrageous wickedness, but of the fact that the majority of men and women are as good as we are and not better. Take some millions of people just like us, all generous with their superfluities but still putting self first, and in a few generations you will again have rich and poor living side by side, each ignorant of the lives the others lead; you will again have slums, and sweating, and casual labour, and the denial to many of the educational facilities that are needed to develop the powers which God gives his children. There are great criminals in the world; but even if all men reach the existing average of moral attainment, the worst evils will still continue. The real trouble of the world is that most of us are just average people. How are we to rise above that average?
Society may by various forms of pressure raise men and women to the level of its own conventions. But that leaves the problem still unsolved. If I am selfish, not grossly but yet predominantly selfish, what shall make me unselfish? For it is certain that my own selfish will can never do it. If my will is selfish, it does not desire to be unselfish; there is the trouble. A man can never by his
own strength put away the sin of his own soul.
There is much that he can do. He can curb rebellious impulses and brace a will that is only slack. But what most needs to be done he cannot do. In proportion as he is sincere he will exclaim with Saint Paul: "Wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
Christianity is not only a system of moral teaching, it is fundamentally a gift of power. And this power is not only the encouragement given by the promise of attainment in the future; it is the certainty that comes from a victory already achieved. There we take our stand. We have indeed the promise of Christ, and it is a wonderful treasure. But we have also his accomplishment, and that is something of incomparably greater worth.
Remember how he prayed to his father and said, "I glorified thee on the earth, by accomplishing the work that thou gavest me to do."
Christianity is the religion of a victory achieved. The Christian is indeed marked by a specially acute sorrow for his sin, for he knows the wounds that it inflicts on his divine saviour. But the Christian is never frightened of his sin. He does not cower under its weight before a divine judge whose sentence he fears. For he knows that his judge is first his saviour; the sin he loathes is essentially a dead thing already, for Christ has killed it, and as soon as he resists it in the power of Christ, he finds that it gives way before him. He grieves for it, but lifts his sorrowing gaze in unabated confidence to the captain of his salvation. He knows where to find the strength he needs; and his sorrow when he falls is never near despair.
Lord of All, we thank you for raising up your servant Samuel Azariah as the first indigenous bishop in India. Grant that we may be strengthened by his witness to your love without concern for class or caste, and by his labours for the unity of the Church in India, that people of many languages and cultures might with one voice give you glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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