Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day

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Cyril, Monk, and Methodius, Bishop, Missionaries to the Slavs

Today the church remembers Cyril, Monk, and Methodius, Bishop, Missionaries to the Slavs, 869, 885.

These brothers, Cyril and Methodius, were chiefly responsible for the conversion of the Slavic people of Eastern Europe in the ninth century. They were from Thessalonica, Greece. Each was educated at the great university at Constantinople, and each initially took up a career there; Cyril, the younger, as professor of philosophy, and Methodius, the elder, as a librarian. Cyril was the first to do missionary work. He worked among the Tartars of what is now the Ukraine. The brothers went together as missionaries to Moravia. Cyril invented an alphabet for the Slavic tongues of that area. Together they translated the liturgy and the scriptures into Slavonic, the language of the people.

The task of converting these Slavs was not easy and was made even more difficult by the competitive spirit of the various Christian groups nearby. There was pressure from the Roman Church to impose the Latin language on the population and pressure from Germanic Christians to accept the Arian heresy. However, Cyril and Methodius did not allow partisan strife to interfere with their evangelistic work, and they eventually gained the admiration of all parties. Methodius was consecrated Archbishop of Sirmium in 869, with the blessing of both Rome and Orthodoxy. Cyril died in that same year.

Lord Christ, help us to proclaim the Good News in a way that those who hear it may understand, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, by the power of the Holy Spirit you moved your servant Cyril and his brother Methodius to bring the light of the Gospel to a hostile and divided people: Overcome all bitterness and strife among us by the love of Christ, and make us one united family under the banner of the Prince of Peace; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Daily Readings for February 14, 2016 - First Sunday of Lint

Deuteronomy 26:1-11
When you have come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, "Today I declare to the LORD your God that I have come into the land that the LORD swore to our ancestors to give us." When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the LORD your God, you shall make this response before the LORD your God: "A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the LORD, the God of our ancestors; the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O LORD, have given me." You shall set it down before the LORD your God and bow down before the LORD your God. Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house.

Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
1   He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, abides under the shadow of the Almighty.
2   He shall say to the LORD, "You are my refuge and my stronghold, my God in whom I put my trust."
9   Because you have made the LORD your refuge, and the Most High your habitation,
10   There shall no evil happen to you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.
11   For he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.
12   They shall bear you in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13   You shall tread upon the lion and the adder; you shall trample the young lion and the serpent under your feet.
14   Because he is bound to me in love, therefore will I deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my Name.
15   He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; I am with him in trouble; I will rescue him and bring him to honor.
16   With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.

Romans 10:8-13
But what does it say? "The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

Luke 4:1-13
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread." Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone.'" Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, "To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'" Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'" Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Daily Meditation for February 14, 2016

Romans 10:10 For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

As he got older, my father’s hands became a trifle arthritic, and he loved it when we gave him hand massages. In fact, he extorted them. Parental favors were magnanimously granted in exchange for hand rubs, over which we would talk, sometimes about religion. My father was a priest who was magnificent at raising Christian children because he allowed and even encouraged us to voice doubt.

Most sources agree that belief is the major requirement for Christians. So when I first questioned my faith, it was frightening. My father taught me that in a skeptical world filled with thousands of religions and anti-religions, it becomes acceptable, even necessary, for strong Christians to question their faith sometimes. He gave me room to figure out what it means to believe. I can think of no better way to help a child grow into a mature Christian.

I would have rubbed his hands without borrowing the car. He would have loaned me the car without the hand rub. Probably.