Saturday, January 15, 2011

Epiphany II: Assurance and peace

Almighty and everlasting God, which dost govern all things in heaven and earth: mercifully hear the supplications of Thy people, and grant us Thy peace all the days of our life. Amen.
[Thomas Cranmer]
THE beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; as it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; and preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him: and there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
[Mark 1]
'How long, how long, will you keep saying "To-morrow"?' 'Why not now?' 'Why not an end to my shame in this very hour?' This was what I was saying, and with bitter contrition in my heart, when suddenly from a house close by I heard the voice of a boy or girl, I don't know which, singing and constantly repeating the words 'Take and read, take and read.' Instantly my look of sadness changed, and I began to consider intently whether there was any kind of game in which children used to repeat a song with words like that in it, and I could not recall having heard them anywhere at all. Stifling my tears I rose, reckoning that this was nothing less than a command from God to open the book and read the first passage I came upon. ...I went back to where Alypius was sitting, and where I had put down the book of St Paul's Epistles when I got up. I seized it and read in silence the first passage my eyes fell upon: Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying: but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof [Romans 13:13]. I had no wish to read further, and there was no need. The moment I came to the end of this sentence, the light of certainty flooded my heart, as it were, and every cloud of hesitation rolled away.
[St. Augustine, 386 AD]