Saturday, January 31, 2009

Septuagesima Sunday: 1 February 2009

My apologies, my head is stopped up and I need to rest. But briefly as we are approaching Lent, I would like to talk about it a bit.

Lent has three emphases:
Preparation for Baptism.
Restoration of sinners to communion.
Spirittual Purgation.

For those preparing for Baptism on Easter, I say fast and pray, you are getting ready to become saints.

I you are a notorious sinner, then on or before Shrove Tuesday (Shrove is past tense of shrive, which is old English for absolve) you need to go to the priest and confess your sins. He will then pronounce a penance for you to keep for Lent so as to be readmitted to communion at the Great Vigil Serice.

Spiritual purgation. Lent is not about giving up chocalates for God, but about making ourselves better servants. Fasting is usually a part of this. We ask our congregation to abstain from meat during Lent, and to skip at least one meal on every Friday of Lent, and to fast completely on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Some for medical reasons may not fast, no problem. Give up a favourite food. Put away the TV or radio for Lent. Spend more time praying, reading the Bible, telling others about Christ. If you skip a meal, read the Bible in its place. Take the money you save and help the poor.

If you are giving up some noxious habit for Lent such as smoking or gossipping, resolve not to give it up just for Lent, but for all time. If you have besetting sins, see the priest of anachamra for help.

For more help, (and Lent is rapidly approaching, we have a Lenten Discipline Worksheet. For me to email you one as an attachment in wordplese email me at: and place Lenten Discipline Workshee in the subject line.

Blessings to all,

+Mar Michael Abportus, OS>

Saturday, January 24, 2009

25 January 2009: 3rd Sunday After Epiphany

Deuteronomy 17:14-18:22

Our lesson from Deuteronomy today once again is rather practical, even to our day and age. It tells us how the king is to behave. He must not be a foreigner. He shouldn't have too many wives (as they might lead him astray as happened to Shlomo (Solomon), he shouldn't be worried about collecting silver and gold. He was to take a copy of the law (what we call the Torah or Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible) and copy them down and to read it each day of his life.

Now admittedly, our Bible is a little bigger today, but the idea of our President, Governor etc. Reading his Bible each day appeals to me. It helps him to set boundaries and know the standards. That is something that is important to any leader of the nation. The Bible will also remind him if he reads it through, that God has ultimately placed the leader in that position. Writing doesn't hurt either.

In my life I began a regular round of reading the Bible at a relatively early age, in conjunction with activities for Confirmation in the Episcopal Church and with activities aimed at receiving the God and Country Award. Even though through lack of good teaching I fell away from church in my college years and participated in some rather stupid things, I continued the Bible reading every day. During my senior year at Rice, I was reading the first chapter of the Gospel and it hit me. All the stupidity I had fallen into fell away immediately, for Yehsua (Jesus) was God and he had come into the world for me. It was a momentous occasion and the beginning of my return to life in the church. (This by the way is why I do not worry about my youngest son. He is not there yet, but he does read the Bible every morning and night, so I am sure the Lord will get through to him, the rest of them I worry about).

The lesson goes on to tell us the prerogatives of priests, which are important because we learn to support the clergy, as again Paul tells us in the New Testament. Then we are given some more commands. We are not to sacrifice our children, offering them to Moloch. Unfortunately today, we sacrifice our children through abortion to that God convenience, and unforgiveness. We often sacrifice our children in other ways, not giving them the time they deserve to help form them into mentally and physically healthy human beings and Christians.

We are also told to stay away from witchcraft, casting spells, necromancy and fortunetellers. Of course strangely enough, at least in Houston, the horoscope is right next to the comics, just to get the kids interested (and the comics are in the religion section, just what message are we sending?) How many Christians I wonder read the horoscope each day? Stay away from it. It will lead you astray. It lead me astray when I was young and foolish, and I know several pastors who were led astray as well. The Bible is not kidding, this stuff is eternally deadly to your soul.

The lesson ends with a prediction of the coming of Messiah.

Now believe it or not, the little stuff counts. When we learn to obey in the little things, like not reading the horoscope, women wearing a head covering when praying, then we are strengthened for the bigger things. Let us repeat that, obedience in the lesser things helps us to develop our spiritual muscles so that we can be obedient in the larger things. How many marathoners got up in one step and ran the Marathon. NONE. We all start the same way, one step at a time when we are babies, and building up our muscles for bigger and better things.

So let us get into the Bible, studying it each day, and learning to obey in all things. Let us claim the blessing, which may not be health and wealth, but is the true peace which passes all understanding.

Friday, January 23, 2009

18 January 2008: 2nd Sunday After Epiphany

Deuteronomy 1:18-17:13

Coincidence or no, this lesson talks about justice and how it should be administered. There is repeated emphasis in Torah, Prophets, and the writings on justice. We are not to favour the rich because they are rich, nor the poor because they are poor. Both extremes have been found in society over time. By extension, we are not to favour someone because of skin colour. In other words true justice is justice with integrity. Martin Luther King (By the way, we do not celebrate his birthday in January, but the anniversary of his death), in one of his speeches, stated that he did not want his children judged by the colour of their skin, but by their character. It is a wonderful statement and one we should consider.

I am a product of Texas and of the south, and grew up with prejudice around me. Blacks and whites did not frequent the same restaurants. Whites sat in the front of the theatre, blacks in the back, and Mexicans in the balcony. How things have changed, in some ways for the good, and in some ways for the bad.

Remember what Martin Luther King said, we are to judge by character. Remember what the Bible says, justice, all should be treated the same. Even though there are still some people who are prejudiced, either consciously or subconsciously, it is time for affirmative action to cease. Everyone should be judged by their ability and their character. Yes there are differences in the way people live, but, if we look just at the children of unwed mothers, the differences between white, black, Hispanic, etc. virtually disappear. Unwed mothers children are more likely to be abused, not finish school, be on drugs, etc. Mothers regardless of race should not have children outside of wedlock, if they truly love their children. Unfortunately most of them love themselves more and do not consider the danger they put their own children in.

Let us be just, instead of assuming prejudice, let us look at the real systemic problems this society has. Some have predicted that the US, UK and some other countries will be no better than third world countries, if we do not deal with the problem of unwed mothers. There is no shame any more. Something that is gone, is the shame and stigma of having sex and children without the benefits of marriage. Our new President has commented on the biggest problem for black families is the absence of black fathers. Bill Cosby (unpopularly I might add) has been talking about this problem for years. But it is not just a black problem, although the numbers are higher among the black community. It is a Hispanic, white, etc. problem as well, a result of glorifying sex before commitment, glorifying pleasure before responsibility.

It is time for our society to develop morals once again, morals based on Biblical precepts, sex and marriage belong together, not apart. Marriage for two heterosexuals, only, not glorifying perversions. Men being responsible for their children. Media that promotes morality, not amorality, drugs and sex. We make the difference, when we turn the TV off, refuse to listen to things that are bad, refusing to rent some movies, and telling sponsors why we will not buy their product anymore, and yes, writing to your senator, representative, governor and President. It is also time for church to show the way again. Our daughters should be virgins before they marry. Our sons as well. For too long has society salted the church in the USA and Europe. It is time for the church to salt society.

Mar Michael Abportus, OSL

Sunday, January 11, 2009

11 January 2009

Isaiah 42:1-9

In this day in which we celebrate the baptism of Yeshua, it is fitting that we read this lesson from the Tanach as well. When, the sinless Yeshua was baptised for our sin, he was taking on the mantel of his public ministry. This ministry is lined out in the reading from Isaiah.
See my servant.
I put my spirit upon him (when Yeshua was baptised)
He brings forth right ruling to the nations. (yet to come)
He does not cry out...Yeshua was humble and meek in his ministry.
He does not become week nor crushed (even on the cross, Yeshua voluntarily gives up his life.)
I Yahweh have called you in righeousness, for a light to the gentiles (Yeshua is a light to the nations, not just to Israel)
To open blind eyes (both literally and that they may see the truth)
To set prisoners free (again, both literally, and setting prisoners free from sin)

When we read this lesson, we need to consider. We often think of this lesson as defining the ministry of Yeshua, but in fact it defines the ministry of all Christians, the church, which is the body of Messiah.

When we were baptised and sealed, we received the fullnes of the Holy Spirit. This just isn't something fun God does for us. The Holy Spirit is power, and he leads us into all truth, including the ugly truth about ourselves, our depraved nature and our sin. Following the lead of the Holy Spirit, we congquer the old nature and put on Christ.

We are to bring right rulings to the nations. We should attend to Darfur, the women and children trapped in the sex trade, we should look out for the Israelis tortured by daily missile attacks and those innocenst who suffer as a result. Yeshua works through us.

Today we must open blind eyes, especially those who deny spiritual realiities, those who deny God, those who deny responsability. There are many blind eyes. Few adress the world's economic problems from spiritual viewpoints. Materialism, greed, living beyond our means are the cause of the problems. It is time to see, and live within our means, look at what we need and not what we want.

It is time for us to free prisoners as well, not just those who are falsely imprisoned, but those who are imprisoned by drugs, by alcohol, by sex, by pornography, by materialism, by enslavemnt to their computers, their video games, their cars.

It is our job, given to us, when we were baptised into Christ Jesus. We are his hands and feet, we are his mouth and ears and eyes. If we don't do it, who will?

So let's do it. Time for us to change the world in the name of Yeshya.

Shalom b'Yehsua haMoshiach

+Mar Michael Abportus

Saturday, January 3, 2009

3 January 2008

Please excuse me this week. Just too tired to get it done on time. Please pray for us.