TUESDAY THE THIRTIETH OF JANUARY 2018
Almighty God and Father, help us to be still in your presence, that we may know ourselves to be your people, and you to be our God, through Jesus Christ our lord. Amen.
Great God, the heavens’ well-ordered frame
declares the glories of your name:
there your rich works of wonder shine;
a thousand starry beauties there,
a thousand radiant marks appear
of boundless power and skill divine.
From night to day, from day to night,
the dawning and the dying light
lectures of heavenly wisdom read;
with silent eloquence they raise
our thoughts to our creator’s praise,
and neither sound nor language need.
Yet their divine instructions run
far as the journeys of the sun,
and every nation knows their voice:
the sun, like some young bridegroom dressed,
breaks from the chambers of the east,
rolls round, and makes the earth rejoice.
Wherever he spreads his beams abroad
he smiles and speaks his maker God;
all nature joins to show your praise:
thus God in every creature shines;
fair is the book of nature’s lines,
but fairer is your book of grace.
( Isaac Watts )
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
The trial of Giordano Bruno
In the inevitable skirmishes between scientific thought and medieval religion, the names of Copernicus and Galileo come first to mind, but on the twenty-seventh of January, 1593, Giordano Bruno walked into the Holy Office of the Inquisition in Rome to begin a seven-year trial which would end in his execution in February of 1600.
The Medieval Church had sought to control freedom of thought and expression by means of the Inquisition, and such tools as the Index of Forbidden Books. But the Reformation of the Church, begun in the early sixteenth century cracked the tight grip of the Roman Church on the lives of people. What makes Bruno an interesting character is that he challenged not just the Roman Church, but any institutional expression of Christianity that made claims to ultimate truth.
Born a Roman Catholic, Bruno entered the Dominican Order and was ordained as a priest in 1572. He was a speculative theologian and philosopher. He was willing to take a fresh look at any notion people thought was settled doctrine. By the time of his trial, Bruno had a perfect track record: he had been excommunicated by the Roman Catholics, the Calvinists and the Lutherans, and he would have been excommunicated by the Anglicans, except he left England and returned to the Continent before the charges could be filed.
He viewed as ideal the notion that all religious systems of thought should get along with each other in a spirit of tolerance and dialogue. He himself exalted philosophy over religion stating that religion is a tool to instruct and govern the ignorant, while philosophy was the discipline whereby the civilised could govern themselves.
His scientific views went beyond Copernicus. He not only understood that the Sun was the centre of our solar system but also taught that the stars were other suns which also had planets surrounding them. He thought that the universe was infinite, not finite, and believed that there were other worlds containing life out in the universe.
He had no trouble confessing the traditional doctrines of the Church such as the Holy Trinity, and the Incarnation, but insisted that all doctrines were historically conditioned.
He had been living in Venice when the Holy Inquisition caught up with him and demanded his extradition to Rome. At the end of his long and torturous trial, he was given a sentence of execution.
He calmly told the chief judge: “Perhaps your fear in passing judgment on me is greater than mine in receiving it.”
Scripture. In the ninth chapter of “Ecclesiastes,” at the eleventh verse, we read:
Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favour to the skilful; but time and chance happen to them all.
… for peace in the world.
… for scientists, in particular, those who also believe in a creator God and those who are shunned by the scientific establishment because they question what is held to be true.
… for heretics, those who think outside of the box, those who question, those who are different and those who just do not fit in.
… for those who have died recently 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 in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
From “Cause, Principle, and Unity” by Giordano Bruno:
Cause, principle, and one eternal
from whom being, life, and movement are suspended,
and which extends itself in length, breadth, and depth,
to whatever is in heaven, on earth, and hell;
with sense, with reason, with mind, I discern,
that there is no act, measure, nor calculation, which can comprehend
that force, that vastness and that number,
which exceeds whatever is inferior, middle, and highest;
blind error, avaricious time, adverse fortune,
deaf envy, vile madness, jealous iniquity,
crude heart, perverse spirit, insane audacity,
will not be sufficient to obscure the air for me,
will not place the veil before my eyes,
will never bring it about that I shall not
contemplate my beautiful sun.
Almighty God, we ask forgiveness of you for all those who, out of love for you, used worldly power to kill others in your name. We thank you, for the ways you have inspired us to seek the deep truths of our life together in this universe, and we ask that as we contend for the truth, our behaviour toward others follows the example of our lord and saviour, Jesus Christ. 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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