WEDNESDAY THE SEVENTH OF DECEMBER, 2016
* AMBROSE *
We make our cry to you now.
Look with your love and compassion
on the world which your son came to save.
Enter our hearts, and the hearts of men and women everywhere
that we may be transformed, to be your people, to live to your glory,
to be bringers of hope and instruments of love,
sharing the joy of your risen life
and working for that peace which is your gift to us,
relying not on our strength but yours. Amen.
Come, thou redeemer of the earth,
and manifest thy virgin birth:
let every age adoring fall;
such birth befits the God of all.
Begotten of no human will,
but of the Spirit, thou art still
the Word of God in flesh arrayed,
the promised fruit to man displayed.
The virgin womb that burden gained
with virgin honour all unstained;
the banners there of virtue glow;
God in his temple dwells below.
Forth from his chamber goeth he,
that royal home of purity,
a giant in twofold substance one,
rejoicing now his course to run.
From God the Father he proceeds,
to God the Father back he speeds;
his course he runs to death and hell,
returning on God's throne to dwell.
O equal to thy Father, thou!
Gird on thy fleshly mantle now;
the weakness of our mortal state
with deathless might invigorate.
Thy cradle here shall glitter bright,
and darkness breathe a newer light,
where endless faith shall shine serene,
and twilight never intervene.
All laud to God the Father be,
all praise, eternal Son, to thee;
all glory, as is ever meet,
to God the Holy Paraclete.
( Ambrose, translated by John Mason Neale )
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Today Saint Laika’s remembers Ambrose of Milan, fourth century bishop, teacher, and theologian . Ambrose lived during the time when the struggle between the Arians and the Orthodox continued to rage across the Roman empire.
Ambrose was the son of a Roman governor in Gaul, and in 373 AD he himself was governor in Upper Italy. Though brought up in a Christian family, Ambrose had not been baptised. He became involved in the election of a bishop of Milan only as mediator between the battling factions of Arians and orthodox Christians. The Arian position that Christ was not God, had been roundly defeated earlier at the Council of Nicea. But Arians continued to press for their view throughout most of the fourth century. For a time it seemed the more popular Christian position. Strong leaders like Ambrose were key to establishing the faith of the Nicene Creed. He was ordained bishop on the seventh of December, 373.
Ambrose was also a skilful hymnodist. He introduced antiphonal chanting to enrich the liturgy, and wrote straightforward, practical discourses to educate his people in such matters of doctrine as baptism, the Trinity, the Eucharist, and the person of Christ. His persuasive preaching was an important factor in the conversion of Augustine of Hippo.
Ambrose also stood up to the Roman emperor, Theodosius whom he forced to do public penance for the slaughter of several thousand citizens of skilful. He wrote and taught about the sacraments of baptism and holy communion. He had strong devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus. He was also very generous to the poor, and taught his flock that it was their obligation to see that the least of Christ’s brothers and sisters be provided for.
Scripture: In "Psalm Twenty-Seven," verses seven to nine, we read:
"Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!
"'Come,’ my heart says, ‘seek his face!’
"Your face, LORD, do I seek. Do not hide your face from me."
... for peace in the world.
... for the people of Milan and all who claim Ambrose of Milan as their patron.
... for bee keepers, beggars and those involved in the propagation of knowledge.
... for the people of Ghana as they vote for a new president.
... for those who were killed, injured or made homeless during an earthquake in Aceh, Indonesia.
... for those who are in work yet still in poverty and for an end to their exploitation by landlords.
... 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 "Getting Personal" by Kathy Galloway:
Advent, along with Lent, is a time of preparation. During Lent, we accompany ]esus into the desert, we face the wilderness of our own inner landscape to prepare ourselves for the Easter journey of death and resurrection. During Advent, we go with John into the desert to prepare the way to welcome Christ into our hearts and live anew at Christmas. We have the opportunity to explore the inner geography of our lives for areas of dead wood, thorns or tangled knots. Twisted relationships, the dead wood of old hurts or habits, the confusion that sometimes comes when we feel we cant see the wood for the trees, all these are wilderness areas, and they need to be cleared away before growth and new life is possible. Or perhaps there are desert patches (arid, dry areas where nothing can grow or blossom, parts of us which have withered away from not being used or tended or tested), some tenderness, some care, some talent, some forgiveness, some humour that need the water of life to bring them bursting into flower. If we have desert or wilderness places within us (and which of us do not?) Advent is a good time to prepare for new life, for the birth of Christ within us, to clear the way so that we have more courageous self-examination, more open hearts, more receptive spirits, more loving kindness towards ourselves and others. We don't and cant know what that will mean for us, and it will probably not be what we expect, but when that call to worship, to accept, and to walk the road of love comes again with renewed vigour, we want to be prepared, to be ready. So, a word of preparation, sometimes dramatic, sometimes quiet and steady. And the first necessity for our walking the way of love is that we should be on our feet.
"Rise from the dust, undo the chains that bind you," says Isaiah.
"Be awake and sober," says ]esus.
We cant walk sitting down, far less crumpled in a heap. To stand up very often means to stand out, and to stand up for the way of love is not, it seems, a very acceptable stance at the moment. Nevertheless, by grace it is both our calling and our charism, our gift, our freedom. Let us encourage and support one another to embrace our calling and our freedom this Advent.
God, you gave your servant Ambrose grace eloquently to proclaim your righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honour of your name: Mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellence in preaching and faithfulness in ministering your word, that your people may be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, 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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