WEDNESDAY THE TWENTY-FIFTH OF APRIL, 2018
* Mark *
Almighty God, who has given your only son to be for us both a sacrifice for sin and also an example of godly life; give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive the inestimable benefit of his sacrifice and also daily endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Behold the messengers of Christ, who bear to every place,
the unveiled mysteries of God, the gospel of his grace.
The things through mists and shadows dim by holy prophets seen,
in the full light of day, they saw with not a cloud between.
What Christ, true man, divinely wrought, what God in manhood bore,
they wrote as God inspired, in words that live forevermore.
Although in space and time apart, one Spirit ruled them all;
and in their sacred pages still, we hear that Spirit’s call.
To God, the blessèd Three in One, be glory, praise, and might,
who called us from the shades of death to his own glorious light.
( Jean B. de Santëuil, "Cluniac Breviary" 1686 )
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Saint Mark: the enigmatic disciple
Today Saint Laika’s calendar coincides with other Christian calendars in remembering Mark, an early disciple of Jesus Christ, and the author of the gospel that bears his name. We can rightly call him enigmatic because although his name appears in several places in the "New Testament," we are never sure if we are reading about the same person.
Perhaps he was the son of a woman who owned a house in Jerusalem, perhaps the same house in which the disciples and Jesus ate their last supper together. Perhaps he was the young man who fled naked at the time Jesus was arrested. In "Colossians," there is a Mark who is called “cousin of Barnabas.”
Though Mark was a travelling companion of Paul and Barnabas, he somehow angered Paul, who refused to take him on his later missionary journeys. Was he the same Mark who became closely aligned with Peter, who refers to “my son Mark” in the "First Letter of Peter" chapter five, verse thirteen?
The church of Alexandria in Egypt claimed Mark as its first bishop and most illustrious martyr, and the great church of Saint Mark in Venice commemorates a raid conducted by Venetian merchants in 838 AD when Egypt had come under the domination of Islam. These merchants stole the body of Saint Mark out of Egypt covering it with slabs of pork and cabbage to avoid detection by the Muslims. The Copts insisted that whatever else they had gotten, the Venetians didn’t have Saint Mark’s head, which the Copts have enshrined in Saint Mark’s Coptic Cathedral in Alexandria, which they bring out once a year to venerate.
In these days, when the Egyptian people, like so many in the Middle East, are living in such volatile times. Let us use the occasion of Saint Mark’s festival to pray for the Copts and other Christians of Egypt, for peace in their land, and for the courage to make a bold proclamation of their faith in Jesus Christ.
Scripture. In the fourth chapter of "Ephesians," at verses eleven and twelve we read:
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.
... for peace in the world.
... for the Christians of Egypt and other predominantly Muslim countries; that their persecution may cease and that they may live without the fear of being violently attacked.
... that the testimony of Christians may still bring others to faith in Christ in our own times and that we may personally discover the eloquence to effectively proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to those we live among.
... for notaries, barristers and all who people and institutions who claim Mark as their patron.
... for those who are suffering from Malaria and for the success of those who are working to find a cure for it. DETAILS
... for the people of Italy who are celebrating their national day today.
... for the release of those who are falsely or unjustly imprisoned.
... for an end to gun violence among the young people of the world.
... for refugees seeking a refuge from the violence of their own countries and for those who endeavour to make them feel welcome in a strange land.
... 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 "Why Nobody Wants to Be Around Christians Anymore" by Thom Schultz:
DIVINE ANTICIPATION: Telling others, in an authentic, natural way, what God is doing in our own lives and the lives of others.
When we as Christians start sharing what God is doing every day in our lives, we invite others to participate in our divine anticipation. Not in a preachy sort of way, but in a natural. “oh, by-the-way” sort of way.
But Christians have turned evangelism into a scary prospect; it’s become a sales pitch or a dire warning, or an invitation to a secret club. We hold courses and sermons on what to say and how to do it. Regular people are afraid they’ll say the wrong thing. After all, they're not the ministry “professionals."
There's a much better way. God has equipped us with his Holy Spirit simply to tell our own story: the good, the bad, and the real. The best part is no one can argue with us. It‘s our story. And when others realise you don’t need a degree in evangelism, they become empowered to tell their own God-story. It’s not that complicated. Maybe the early church thrived because they didn‘t pay people to be the professional “church people": they all were “it."
Almighty God, by the hand of Mark the evangelist you have given to your Church the gospel of Jesus Christ the son of God: we thank you for this witness, and pray that we may be ﬁrmly grounded in its truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and 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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