Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Today as I write is the last of the Great Forty Days of Christmas, the 2nd day of February 2022. In last week’s letter we thought about what happened in the Jerusalem Temple forty days after the Birth of the Lord as an “epiphany” of Christ. Although our Anglican description of the Epiphany Season seems to place greater emphasis on the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles (as characterised by the Wise Men with their three different gifts), we should not forget that the manifestation of Christ was offered to the Jewish people first. In the Temple at the fortieth day after Jesus’s birth, those who recognised by divine grace that this Baby was of divine appointment were two who were not Gentiles: Simeon and Anna. And then in Jerusalem at the Jewish feast of Pentecost after the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus, a manifestation from the Spirit of Jesus was offered to those who were Jewish in one way or another, those who were there for the Feast: and this brought about the first congregation of Christians in Jerusalem, a Jewish Christian congregation that S. Luke tells us even included some Jewish teachers called Pharisees.
The Old Covenant - or Old Testament - with Israel prepared the way for the New Covenant - or New Testament - with men and women of all sorts and backgrounds. This - our participation in the New Covenant - is our true identity as the Church today and we are still working for and looking forward to its greater actualisation and fulfilment.
Today’s Collect as I write is
Almighty and everliving God, we humbly beseech thy Majesty, that, as thy only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in substance of our flesh, so we may be presented unto thee with pure and clean hearts, by the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
and the Collect for the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany is
O Lord, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Collect for the Feast of the Presentation seems to display to us a contrast of “substance of our flesh” and “pure and clean hearts”. Without the power and presence of Christ, the power of the “substance of our flesh” steers our humanity in an opposite direction from that of “pure and clean hearts”. Nevertheless in the mercy, grace and power of God, He even chose our fleshly substance in which to manifest and present Himself and His purity to mankind, and his presentation in the temple was a firstfruits of that greater manifestation to come. In Sunday’s Collect we pray that the Lord will “keep” His “Church and household” in the way His offering of such “heavenly grace" and “mighty power" has “defended" us and enabled us to walk in so as also to be presented to Him with pure and clean hearts, even as we “do lean only upon the hope” of that heavenly grace; “through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
For directions about the services this Sunday the 6th February 2022, the 5th Sunday after the Epiphany, please see the website www.TruthWithLanguage.com . It will be the first Sunday of the month and we shall be using our usual first Sunday protocols with Mr. Peter preaching.
In faith in the holy Name of our Lord Jesus, who will continue to provide guidance by the Holy Spirit to all His people.
In place of the "bells" for the 70th anniversary of HM's
Accession I have agreed that
we will do a period of 70 seconds silence after church at 12.15pm.