Divine Liturgy of St. Tikhon

The Liturgy of the Catechumens.

On Sundays, the service may begin with Asperges.

The presbyter ascends to the altar. The presbyter, standing at the altar, says the opening preparatory devotions.

Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily glorify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ said. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it; You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

At a Solemn Mass, incense is set, after which the altar and presbyter are censed. Then the appointed Psalm Verse (Introit) is said or sung. Then shall be said or sung the Kyrie.

The Kyrie

Presbyter: Lord, have mercy upon us. (Kyrie, eleison)

Response: Lord, have mercy upon us. (Kyrie, eleison)

Presbyter: Lord, have mercy upon us. (Kyrie, eleison)

Presbyter: Christ, have mercy upon us. (Christe, eleison)

Response: Christ, have mercy upon us. (Christe, eleison)

Presbyter: Christ, have mercy upon us. (Christe, eleison)

Presbyter: Lord, have mercy upon us. (Kyrie, eleison)

Response: Lord, have mercy upon us. (Kyrie, eleison)

Presbyter: Lord, have mercy upon us. (Kyrie, eleison)

The Gloria in Excelsis

The Gloria is omitted during Advent, Lent, Nuptials, and Requiem Masses. All the people and ministers turn to the altar and bow, and then the presbyter says:

Presbyter: Glory be to God on high,

Response: and on earth peace, good will towards all. We praise you, we bless you, we worship you, we glorify you, we give thanks to you for your great glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.

O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. You that takes away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. You that seated at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.

For you only are holy; you only are the Lord; you only, O Christ, with the Holy Spirit, are most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen

The Collect

After the Gloria, the presbyter makes the personal sign of the cross, and turns to the people, raising the arms a little, then joins the hands, and says:

Presbyter: The Lord be with you.

Response: And with your spirit.

Presbyter: Let us pray.

Then the presbyter shall read the appropriate Collect(s) for the Day.

Response: Amen.

The Epistle

The response after the reading: Thanks be to God.

The Gradual

The deacon/presbyter prays to worthily proclaim the Gospel. After a salutation incense is set, after which the Gospel censed.

The Holy Gospel

Gospeller: The Lord be with you.

Response: And with your spirit.

Gospeller: The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to __N.__

The deacon (gospeller) then proceeds through the midst of the quire (choir area and/or sanctuary), carrying the text solemnly in the left hand, led by a crucifer, to the middle of the Nave. The people stand, turn to face the book of the Gospels, acknowledge the cross, then sign themselves on the forehead, lips and breast with their thumb.

Response: Glory be to you, O Lord.

The Holy Gospel is now read or sung.

The response after the reading: Praise be to you, O Christ.

The Sermon may be given here or at any other place, at the discretion of the presbyter.

The Creed is said on all Sundays and Greater feasts, but is omitted at Nuptial and Requiem Masses.

The Nicene Creed

Presbyter: I believe in one God:

Response: The Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, True God of true God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, And was made man: And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried: And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into heaven, And seated on the right hand of the Father: And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Spirit, The Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spoke by the Prophets.

And I believe one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church: I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins: And I look for the Resurrection of the dead: And the Life of the world to come. Amen.

Presbyter: The Lord be with you

Response: And with your spirit

Presbyter: Let us pray.

NOTE:  At the discretion of the presbyter, the Prayers of the Church and the General Confession may be offered first and afterwards the Offertory.

The Offertory

An appropriate Scriptural Verse is said or sung. A Hymn may be sung while the presbyter prepares the Offering of bread and wine with the appropriate prayers. At Solemn Mass incense is set, after which the offerings, altar, celebrating presbyter, and people are censed. After all preparations are completed, the presbyter turns to the people and begins the responsorial for the gifts.

Presbyter: Pray everyone, that this my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father almighty.

Response: May the Lord receive this sacrifice at your hands, to the praise and glory of his name, both to our benefit, and that of all his holy Church.

The Prayers of the Church

Deacon/Presbyter: [Let us pray] for the whole state of Christ’s Church.

Deacon/Presbyter: Almighty and ever living God, who by your holy Word has taught us to make prayers, and sincere requests, and to give thanks for all people; We humbly ask you most mercifully to accept our [alms and] offerings, and to receive these our prayers, which we offer to your Divine Majesty; asking you to inspire continually the Universal Church with the spirit of truth, unity, and concord: And grant that all those who do confess your holy Name may agree in the truth of your holy Word, and live in unity and godly love.

We ask you also, so to direct and incline the hearts of all Christian Rulers, that they may truly and impartially administer justice, to the punishment of wickedness and vice, and to the maintenance of your true religion, and virtue.

Give grace, O heavenly Father, to all Bishops and other Ministers, that they may, both by their life and doctrines, set forth your true and lively Word, and rightly and duly administer your holy Sacraments.

And to all your People give your heavenly grace; and especially to this congregation here present; that, with gentle heart and due reverence, they may hear, and receive your holy Word; truly serving you in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life.

And we most humbly ask you, of your goodness, O Lord, to comfort and relieve all those who, in this transitory life, are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity.

And we also bless your holy Name for all your servants departed this life in your faith and fear; asking you to grant them continual growth in your love and service, and to give us grace so to follow their good examples, that with them we may be partakers of your heavenly kingdom. Grant this, O Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake, our only Mediator and Advocate.

Response: Amen.

The General Confession

Presbyter: You who do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbors, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; Draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort; and make your humble confession to Almighty God, devoutly kneeling.

Response: Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all people; We acknowledge and bewail our many sins and wickedness, which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, by thought, word, and deed, against your Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly your wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; The remembrance of them is grievous to us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For your Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please you in newness of life, To the honor and glory of your Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Presbyter: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who of his great mercy has promised forgiveness of sins to all those who with hearty repentance and true faith turn to him; Have mercy upon you; pardon and deliver you from all your sins; confirm and strengthen you in all goodness; and bring you to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Response: Amen.

Presbyter. Hear what comfortable words our Savior Christ said to all who truly turn to him.

Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy with burdens, and I will refresh you. St. Matt. xi. 28.

God so loved the world, that he gave His only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. St. John iii. 16.

Hear also what St. Paul said. This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I Tim. i. 15.

Hear also what St. John said. If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins.

I St. John ii. 1, 2.

The Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist.

The Sursum Corda

Presbyter: The Lord be with you.

Response: And with your Spirit.

Presbyter: Lift up your hearts.

Response: We lift them up to the Lord.

Presbyter: Let us give thanks to our Lord God.

Response: It is proper and right so to do.

The Proper Preface

Presbyter: It is very proper, right, and our required duty that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks to you, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God (here shall follow the Proper for the Preface, if there be one.). Therefore, with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we praise and glorify your glorious name; evermore praising you, and saying,

The Sanctus

Everyone either says or sings …

Holy, Holy, Holy,

Lord God of hosts,

Heaven and earth are full of your glory:

Glory be to you, O Lord Most High.

Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.

THE CANON OF THE EUCHARIST

The Consecration

Celebrating Presbyter: All glory be to you, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that you, of your tender mercy, did give your only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death on the Cross for our redemption; who made there (by his one offering of himself – once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, offering, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world; and did institute, and in his holy Gospel commands us to continue, a perpetual memory of that of his precious death and sacrifice, until his coming again:

The bell rings once.

For in the night in which he was betrayed, he took Bread; and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take, eat, this is my Body, which is given for you; Do this in remembrance of me.”

The bell rings thrice for the offering of the bread.

Likewise, after supper, he took the Cup; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink this, all of you; for this is my Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you, and for many, for the remission of sins; Do this, as often as you shall drink it, in remembrance of me.”

The bell rings thrice for the offering of the chalice.

The Oblation

Wherefore O Lord and heavenly Father, according to the institution of your dearly beloved Son our Savior Jesus Christ, we, your humble servants, do celebrate and make here before your Divine Majesty, with these your holy gifts, which we now offer to you, the memorial your Son has commanded us to make; having in remembrance his blessed passion and precious death, his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension; rendering to you most hearty thanks for the countless benefits procured to us by the same.

The Epiclesis

And we most humbly ask you, O merciful Father, to hear us; and, of your almighty goodness, grant to bless and sanctify, with your Word and Holy Spirit, these your gifts and living elements of bread and wine; that we, receiving them according to your Son our Savior Jesus Christ’s holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood.

And we earnestly desire your fatherly goodness, mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; most humbly asking you to grant that, by the merits and death of your Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we, and all your whole Church, may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion. And here we offer and present to you, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice to you; humbly asking you, that we, and all others who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion, may worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of your Son Jesus Christ, be filled with your grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us, and we in him.

Be mindful also, O Lord, of your servants who are gone before us with the sign of faith, and who rest in the sleep of peace (here, the names of the recently departed are remembered). To them, O Lord, and to all who rest in Christ, grant we pray to you, a place of refreshment, light and peace.

To us sinners also, your servants, confiding in the multitude of your mercies, grant some lot and partnership with your holy Apostles and martyrs, and all your Saints into whose company we pray to you, of your mercy to admit us.

And although we are unworthy, through our many sins, to offer to you any sacrifice; yet we ask you to accept this our required duty and service; not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

By whom, and with whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory be to you, O Father Almighty, world without end.

The Great Amen

The Great Amen is either a simple response or it is sung like a hymn.

Response: Amen.

The presbyter puts the bread down, covers the chalice and genuflects.

The Lord’s Prayer

Presbyter: And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,

Response: 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, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.) Amen.

The Doxology is omitted from the Lord’s Prayer at all low, Nuptial, and Requiem Masses.

The presbyter now says the Prayer for the Fracture (also known as the Breaking of the Bread), and afterwards exchanges the Pax (the Peace) with the people of the congregation.

The Libera Nos

(1). The presbyter takes hold of the paten

(2). The presbyter uncovers the chalice and then genuflects. Then the presbyter takes the bread and brakes down the middle over the chalice.

(3). The presbyter breaks off a small particle of the bread.

(4). The presbyter uses the particle to make the sign of the cross over the chalice three times.

(5). The presbyter gently drops the particle into the chalice and silently says a private prayer. After the prayer, the presbyter covers the chalice.

(1). Deliver us, we ask you, O Lord, from all evils, past, present, and to come; and by the intercession of the blessed and glorious ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and of the holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, and of Andrew, and of all the Saints, mercifully grant peace in our days, that through the assistance of your mercy we may be always free from sin, and secure from all disturbance. (2). Through the Jesus Christ, your Son our Lord, (3). who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

Response: Amen.

The Pax

Presbyter: (4). The peace of the Lord be always with you.

Response: And with your spirit.

(5). The bells may ring three times signaling the people to be ready to come forward for Communion.

The Agnus Dei

Everyone either says or sings

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world:

Have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world:

Have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world:

Grant us your peace.

In Masses for the Dead, instead of “Have mercy upon us,” the following is said or sung: grant them rest, grant them rest, grant them rest eternal.

A Prayer for Grace

Everyone says …

[Let not the receiving of your Body, O Lord Jesus Christ, bring judgement upon us.]

For we do not presume to come to this your Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in your many and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under your Table. But you are the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the body of your dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his Body, and our souls washed through his most precious Blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.

The presbyter now self-communes.

Then turning to the faithful, the presbyter says …

Presbyter: Behold the Lamb of God; behold him that takes away the sins of the world.

Response: I believe, O Lord, and I confess that you are truly the Christ, the son of the living God, who did come into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. And I believe that this is truly your own immaculate Body, and that this is truly your own precious Blood. Therefore, I pray to you, have mercy on me and forgive my transgressions, both voluntary and involuntary, of word and of deed, of knowledge and of ignorance; and make me worthy to partake without condemnation of your immaculate Mysteries, to the remission of my sins and to life everlasting. Amen.

Then the following responsorial is offered.

Presbyter: Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof,

Response: but speak the word only and my soul shall be healed.

The Holy Communion

NOTE: In accordance with Orthodox canon law and practice, ONLY ORTHODOX CATHOLICS may receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion in Orthodox Churches.

The presbyter communes the people with the following words:

(For the host.) The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is given for you, preserve your body and soul to everlasting life. Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your heart by faith, with thanksgiving.

(For the chalice.) The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for you, preserve your body and soul to everlasting life. Drink this in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for you, and be thankful.

(If the body and blood are administered together.) The Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given and shed for you, preserve your body and soul to everlasting life.

After communion, the presbyter performs the Ablutions, a cleansing of the sacred vessels.

The Prayers of Thanksgiving

Presbyter: Let us pray.

Response: Almighty and ever living God, we most heartily thank you, for that you do grant to feed us who have properly received these holy mysteries with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; and do assure us thereby of your favor and goodness towards us; and that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of your Son, which is the blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs through hope of your everlasting kingdom, by the merits of his most precious death and passion. And we humbly ask you, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with your grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as you have prepared for us to walk in; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with your and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.

The presbyter now sings or says the assigned Communion Antiphon (if it has not already been offered). With this completed, the presbyter says, “Let us pray.” Then the presbyter sings or says the Post Communion Prayer.

The Dismissal

Deacon: The Lord be with you.

Response: And with your spirit.

During regular periods throughout the year, this is said …

Deacon: Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord

Response: Thanks be to God.

During penitential seasons, this may be said …

Deacon: Let us bless the Lord.

Response: Thanks be to God.

At Requiem Masses, this is said …

Deacon: May they rest in peace.

Response: Amen.

The Blessing

Presbyter: The Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord: And the Blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you, and remain with you always.

Response: Amen.

The Final Hymn and Gospel

All stand for the final hymn. The presbyter turns off the microphone(s) and the congregation begins to sing the final hymn. As the hymn begins, the servers and other ministers gather near the alter. Using a soft voice, the presbyter greets them and then the congregation sings the final hymn. After the reading the presbyter, the servers, and the other ministers process out. 

Presbyter: The Lord be with you.

Response: And with your spirit.

Presbyter: The beginning of the holy Gospel according to St. John.

Response: Glory be to you, O Lord.

Presbyter: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him not a thing was made that was created. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, who gives light to every man that comes into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own did not receive him. But as many as received him, to them he gave the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Who were born, not of natural descent, nor of human decision, or will of a husband, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Response: Thanks be to God.

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The Pflueger Library 2017

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19. A Reflection on Liturgy

Holy Spirit (1)

The Introduction

Send out your Light and your Truth, let them lead us. Let them bring us to your holy hill, and to your tabernacle. Then we will go to the altar of God, to God our exceeding joy. Psalm 43:3-4

Give to LORD, the glory due to his name. Bring an offering, and come into his courts. Worship LORD in the beauty of holiness. Psalm 96:8-9

From a book by Johannes H. Emminghaus called the “The Eucharist” we receive this gem concerning the Jewish Passover celebration, “The festival itself was already, even before Moses, a nomadic celebration connected with the “shifting of pastures.” In a ritual shepherds’ meal, one of the new lambs was sacrificed, roasted on the fire, and eaten …. The original character of a nomadic meal, in contrast to the customs of hunters and farmers, is thus deliberately preserved [in the Jewish Passover] … Unleavened flat bread of the nomads was much older than the customary leavened bread of farmers, which was baked in ovens.”

Within this light we once again see that nothing is new, just reformatted to fit the need of whoever was borrowing it and this reformatted shepherd’s ritual has served the Jewish community for many centuries now – with very little change. The focus of the Jewish Passover is freedom from bondage, enslavement, and injustice.

When the Christians were removed from the Jewish synagogues, they simply did what their forefathers did, reformed the style of worship. In all likelihood their worship had the appearance of the style of worship found in a synagogue with a community meal attach to the end of it. For both Jewish and Gentile Christians worship was a celebration that was a time for the people to gather for reflection, guidance from the Scriptures, and the celebration of the sacred mystery of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit of Christ in the bread and wine.

First Point: Development through the Years

As the years passed, the different Christian communities evolved and so did their worship. In the Latin speaking communities worship was a Roman “work of the people (Mass)” and celebrated with reverence. From early on the Roman community had a preference for simplicity of worship, as seen in the works of Justin Martyr and Hippolytus. However, as the years turned into centuries, different cultures and communities would add their own ideas to the Roman Mass. With these additions, the Roman Mass also received new names to reflect the additions. Such as the Ambrosian liturgy, the Gallic liturgy, and the Frankish liturgy to name a few. By the Middle Ages there was one Roman Church, but it had many different liturgical expressions of the same Mass.

In time, these expressions evolved into a complex style of worship that for the most part excluded the participation of the congregation. By the time the Reformation hit the Roman Church, the liturgical experience had all the appearance of a theatrical program, and all one had to do is show-up on Sunday for the next performance.

Under Pope Pius, V the Tridentine Mass of 1570 was developed. While it did little for incorporating the congregation into the Mass, it did go a long way in giving the Roman Church a common universal form of worship. This meant that an individual could go into any given Roman parish in any given country and experience the same liturgy spoken or sung in the Latin language.

Now let us turn our attention the revised Mass of 1969. This Mass was conceived during the second Vatican Council. I believe this revised form of worship has done three major things: it has returned the Roman liturgy to a simple and dignified form of worship, it has incorporated the entire congregation into the celebration of the liturgy, and it has embrace both the language and customs of the local congregation. So in many ways this revised Mass is not necessarily new, but a return to a much order style of Roman Catholic worship.

The Second Point: The Liturgy of the Word

From the Mass: Opening Prayer, First Reading, Responsorial Psalm, Second Reading, Alleluia Song or Gospel Acclamation, Gospel Responsorial, Gospel Lesson, Homily, Profession of Faith, Prayers of the Faithful or Special Rite

The Eastern liturgies do not begin with a confessional, but it is very common for liturgies of the West to have a confessional in the entrance liturgy. After the entrance liturgy the Mass continues with the section called the Liturgy of the Word. This part of the liturgy closely resembles the Jewish synagogue worship and its primary purpose is the instruction of the congregation. Through the appointed Scripture readings and the homily (sermon) the congregation receives instruction on living a Christian life.

After being instructed in the Christian faith, the congregations affirm their faith through a Creed, like the Apostles’ Creed, and offer their intercessory prayers. While reciting a creed is nothing new, the intercessory prayers are something new for the modern Christian. What was ancient is new again, the collective prayers of the gathered assembly are offered during the Mass. For over a thousand years the intercessory prayers of the entire community had been removed from the gathered assembly and neatly inserted into parts of the Eucharist Prayer. The liturgical reforms of the second Vatican Council brought these prayers from the altar to the pews and by doing so restored an ancient practice.

LORD, your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it. Luke 11:28

Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. John 6:68

Teaching and preaching the Word of the Lord. Acts 15:35

We have looked upon, and our hands have touched, the Word of Life. 1 John 1:1

His name is called The Word of God. Revelation 19:13

The Third Point: The Mystery of the Bread and Wine

From the Mass: Preface Dialogue, Preface Prayer, Holy, Holy, Holy Song (Sanctus), Eucharistic Prayer, Doxology, Great Amen Song, Lord’s Prayer

God takes away the first sacrifice that he may establish the second. By which we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 10:9

Before beginning my presentation, I will note that there is diversity among Christians on “how” the manifestation of Jesus the Word happens. Most would agree that a transformation of some kind takes place, but they have tendencies of disagreeing on many of the key points of the “becoming.” For me personally, I favor the position of the Eastern Orthodox Church. They teach that this a is a great mystery that is beyond human understanding, it is enough for humankind to known that Jesus took bread and said this “is” my Body and then he took the chalice and said this “is” my Blood. And, through a miracle that is beyond human wisdom Jesus comes into the midst of the faithful, as he promised when he said, when two are more gathered in my name I will be in their midst.

Now on to the subject matter. The Byzantine Church Fathers remind us that the death of Christ on the cross was not meant to satisfy some sort of divine justice, rather it was to defeat death. The Body and Blood of Jesus has defeated death and today gives us spiritual health and life.

From a review of the worship manuals from Justin Martyr, Hippolytus and others we can see that this memorial celebration of Jesus was simple and dignified, a style of Christian worship that would become known as Roman. The book Apostolic Tradition written by the Hippolytus around 225 A.D. we have one of the earliest recordings of a Roman Eucharistic Prayer. To this day the Eucharistic Prayer recorded by Hippolytus serves as the basic blueprint for all Eucharistic Prayers.

The Bread of the Presence and the Cup of Salvation is without question the bread and wine that serve as the hosts for the manifestation of the Spirit of Christ among all humanity. As the hosts they are interwoven with the Spirit of Christ and they are the source of spiritual strength and the Holy Food for the eternal soul. The entire body of Christ (blood, words, body, and spirit) are a reminder of the depth and greatness of the love of God to each and every one of us. Therefore, we should never forget that the mystery of the Body and Blood of Jesus is a sacred act of love and a sign of unity. An Easter meal in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and the soul is nourished.

I once was asked, is the presence of Christ in the bread an idea the Christians created? I pointed out to the individual that Holy Bread as the host for the Presence of God was an ancient Jews practice that Jesus and his disciple knew very well. Before walking away, I gave the individual something else to further think about. I said, the third cup of wine of the Passover is the cup of redemption, which reminds us of the shedding blood of an innocent Lamb which brought our redemption. Who is the innocent Lamb of God?

You shall set upon the table the Bread of Presence before me always. Exodus 25:30

The priest gave him holy bread: for there was no other bread there but the Bread of the Presence; that was taken from before LORD. 1st Samuel 21:6

For the life of the body is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. Leviticus 17:11

We shall take the Cup of Salvation, and call on the name of LORD. Psalm 116:13

Daily bread and wine, these are the labor of human hands and the offerings of the faithful assembly gathered to worship the Almighty God. These are also the primary forms of substance for those of poverty throughout the world. In fellowship with the poor and the heavenly company, the Holy Spirit of Christ has chosen these simple and common elements to serve as its hosts when it comes upon humanity. These everyday items become the dwelling place for the Spirit of God, a visual means to offer general devotion, and the renewal of the souls of the faithful. Therefore, in solidarity and of great love for humankind the Holy Spirit of Christ comes to us and dwells within the most common everyday items, so that we may honor God and receive spiritual enrichment.

The Conclusion

The first time the Jesus came to us was through the Holy Spirit and the womb of Mary. Other than Mary, the humble servant, humanity played no role in this manifestation of God. Today the Holy Spirit of Christ comes to us through a human assembly offering their invitation and the reverence of a humble presbyter.

The Roman work of the people is a celebration of worship and praise. It is a labor of love by an assembly of Christians who want to offer their devotion to the Living God. The Roman work of the people is also an ancient form of worship that goes back to the early Christian communities. In closing, I encourage all those who want to study Christian worship to read and research the history of the Roman work of the people.

== Written by Dave Pflueger February 2, 2009 © copyrighted by Pflueger

+ + AN OLD CATHOLIC EUCHARISTIC PRAYER + +

The Priest: Therefore, most merciful Father, we humbly ask of You and request of You through Jesus Christ, Your Son, Our Lord, that You would grant to accept and bless these gifts, these presents, these holy and pure Sacrifices which, in the first place we offer You for Your Holy Catholic Church, to which grant it peace as also to preserve, unite, and govern it, throughout the world, together with Your servant __ (name of the individual who leads the denomination ) __ , our __ (formal title of leader) __ , and __ (name of the local Bishop ) __ , our Bishop; and all faithful believers and confessors of the Catholic and Apostolic Faith.

Remember, O Lord, Your servant(s) __ (names may be offered for those whom we wish to remember ) __ , and all here present, whose faith and devotion are known to You, for whom we offer You, this sacrifice of praise for themselves, their families and friends, for the redemption of their souls, for the health and salvation they hope for; and who now offer their promises to You, the everlasting, living and true God.

In communion with and honoring in the first place the memory of the glorious and ever Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord – Jesus Christ. Then Your blessed Apostles, Martyrs, and all Your Saints, through whose merits and prayers, grant that we may be always be defended by the help of Your protection.
[Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.]

We therefore humbly ask You, O Lord, to graciously accept this offering of our service, as also of Your entire family; and guide our days through Your peace, preserve us from eternal damnation, and count us in the number in Your chosen.
[Through Christ our Lord. Amen.]

The Prayer of Consecration

Come Holy Spirit of Christ and be pleased in all respects to bless, consecrate, and approve these gifts of bread and wine with your presence; perfect them and render them well-pleasing to Yourself, so that they may become the hosts that are interwoven with Your Body and Blood. Come, Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Remembrance

On the day before He suffered, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread (take hold and raise a little) into His holy and venerable hands, and having raised His eyes to heaven, to You, O God, His Almighty Father, giving thanks to You, blessed it broke it and gave it to His disciples saying: (hands upon additional bread) Take and eat all of you.
THIS IS HIS BODY. (elevate high, return it to its proper place, and then a personal sign of reverence)

In like manner, after He had the meal, taking also the excellent chalice (take hold and raise a little) into His holy and venerable hands, and giving thanks to You, He blessed it, and gave it to His disciples, saying: (hands upon additional wine) Take and drink all of you.
THIS IS HIS BLOOD, THE CHALICE OF THE NEW AND EVERLASTING TESTAMENT. THE MYSTERY OF FAITH, WHICH FOR YOU AND FOR MANY WILL BE SHED FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS. As often as you shall do these things, do them in memory of Me. (elevate high, return it to its proper place, and then a personal sign of reverence)

The Offertory

Mindful, therefore, O God, we, Your servants and Your holy people of Christ, Your Son, our Lord, remember His blessed Passion, and also of His Resurrection from the dead, and finally of His glorious Ascension into heaven, offer to Your most excellent Majesty of Your Own gifts, bestowed upon us, perfect, holy, and a victim without sin.

The holy Bread of eternal Life and the Chalice of eternal Salvation, be pleased to regard them with Your gracious and tranquil countenance, and to accept them as it pleased You to graciously accept the gifts of Your just servant Able, and the sacrifice of Abraham our Patriarch, and those which Your chief priest Melchizedek offered to You, a holy Sacrifice.

Most humbly we ask of You, Almighty God, command these offerings to be borne by the hands of Your holy Angels to Your altar on high, in the sight of Your divine Majesty, that as many as shall partake of the most holy Body and Blood of Your Son at this altar, may be filled with every heavenly grace and blessing.
[Through Christ our Lord. Amen.]

Remember also, Lord, Your servant(s) __(the names of those who have recently died may now be mentioned )__ , who have gone before us with the sign of faith and rest in the sleep of peace. To these, O Lord, and to all who rest in Christ, we ask You to grant of Your goodness a place of comfort, light, and peace.
[Through Christ our Lord. Amen.]

To us also, Your sinful servants, confiding in the depth of Your mercy, be pleased to grant us some part and fellowship with Your Holy Apostles, Martyrs, and with all Your Saints, into whose company we humbly ask You to admit us, not weighing our merits, but forgiving our offenses. Through Christ our Lord, by Whom, O God, You always create, sanctify fill with life, bless, and bestow upon us all good things.

Though Him and with Him and in Him
is to You, God the Father Almighty, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory, one world without end.

The Great Amen Hymn

After the celebrant has concluded the Eucharistic Prayer with a Doxology, the people of the congregation either sing a version of the Great Amen Hymn or they say one of the following.

The People : Amen.

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17. A Reflection on Holy Friday (2012)

Today is the day when Christians take time to reflect upon the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. Recently while I was doing just this, and I began to think about all the Christians who have been killed because of their unconditional embrace of Christ. They, like Christ, prove that Christianity is all about sacrifices and the intentional distancing of ones self from safe harbors and comfort zones. In his large catechism Martin Luther made it clear that we are to shun the treasures and comforts of this life and place our confidence in our relationship with the living and true God. Like the blood of Christ which enlivens our souls, the blood of the martyrs enlivens the convictions of the faithful. Therefore, through the sacrifices of Christ and his martyrs we are given an example on how uncompromising our faith should be.

As we journey through this day, let us make note of anything in our personal lives that prevents us from sacrificing ourselves, which is our reasonable service, and commit our strengths to removing it from our lives. In closing, I offer this reflection by Oswald Chambers, “Sanctification means to be intensely focused on God’s point of view. It means to secure and keep all the strength of our body, soul, and spirit for God’s purpose alone.”

Written by Dave Pflueger April 6, 2012 © copyrighted by Pflueger

Apostle’s Creed

I trust in God:
The Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord.
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary;
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell;
the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from here He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I trust in the Holy Spirit,
the Holy Universal Assembly,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.
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The earliest mentioning of the “Apostles’ Creed” occurs in a letter of 390 AD from a synod in Milan.

15. Eucharistic Prayer: Psalm 72

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The Litany

Celebrant: The Lord be with you.
Assembly: And also with you.

Celebrant: Lift up your hearts.
Assembly: We lift them up to the Lord.
Celebrant: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
Assembly: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

The Preface Prayer

The Celebrant: It is a good and joyful thing for us to always and everywhere honor you our God and praise you. You are our God, and we will glorify you. Give thanks to LORD; for he is good, and his mercy endures forever. Therefore we praise him forever singing/saying this hymn to proclaim the glory of his name:

The Sanctus Hymn

Opening Reflection

The Celebrant: O God, give to your Son, who is our King, your judgments and your righteousness. Thus he shall judge your people with righteousness and your poor with justice. With fairness and equality, he shall judge those who live in poverty, save the children of the needy, and be victorious over anyone who oppresses humanity. During his days the righteous shall flourish; and as long as the moon endures, an abundance of peace. And he shall also have dominion throughout the earth.

The Prayer of Consecration

The Celebrant: The Word of God told his disciples, where two or more are gathered together in his name, he will be in the midst of them.

Come Holy Spirit of Christ, bless these gifts with your presence and be in our midst through them. Most Holy God, we are thankful for these gifts, because everything you have created is to be received with thanksgiving by them who believe and know the truth. For everything created by you is good, if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer. Amen. Come Lord Jesus.

The Remembrance

The Celebrant extends the hands and then says:

On the night of his last Passover with his disciples, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; (take hold and raise a little) and when he had given thanks to God, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, take and eat.
This is his body, which is given for us, we do this in memory of his sacrifice.

The Celebrant elevates the plate. Then the Celebrant returns the plate to its place on the linen and offers a sign of respect.

After the meal Jesus took a cup of wine; (take hold and raise a little) and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, drink this all of you.
This is his blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for us and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever we drink it, we do it in memory of him.

The Celebrant elevates the cup. Then the Celebrant returns the cup to its place on the linen and offers a sign of respect.

After the Remembrance a brief silence, then the Celebrant extends both hands and says:

For as often we eat this bread, and drink this cup; we do present the life and death of the Lord until he comes again. Therefore, may we present ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service.

The Concluding Reflection

The Celebrant: O God, give to your Son, who is our King of Peace, your judgments and your righteousness. All those who govern the nations shall bow down before him; all nations shall serve him.

He shall deliver the needy and the poor when they cry; he will assist those who do not have an advocate; he shall be merciful to the poor, he shall save the souls of those in need and redeem their life from all deceit and harm; and in his sight the life of these shall be precious.

Our King shall live, and to him shall be given the [wealth of all nations]; prayers shall also be made to him continually; and daily he shall be given praise.

His name shall endure forever and his name shall continue as long as the sun is bright. Mankind shall be blessed through him and he shall be called blessed by all nations.

Blessed be LORD God, the God of Israel and of all nations, who only does wonderful things. And blessed be his glorious name forever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen.

The Doxology

The Celebrant:
The Bread of the Presence and the Cup of Salvation.
By him, and with, and in him,
are all things:
to whom be glory forever.

The Great Amen Hymn

[1] Assembly: Amen.
[2] Assembly: Amen, Amen, Amen.
[3] A version of the Amen Hymn from a hymnal.

The liturgy now continues with the Lord’s Prayer.

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=======================

The Sanctus Hymn: One of the following Sanctus Hymns or a very similar one is now sung or recited.

Option 1: The Sanctus Hymn. This liturgical hymn can be found in Anglican Hymnals, Catholic Missals, Lutheran books of worship, and Methodist books of worships.

Option 2: The Sanctus Hymn. Franz Schubert.

Option 3: Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty. Reginald Heber, 1826.

Option 4: We Sing Holy, Holy, Holy. Words and Music by Cheryl Lundberg & Cristy Lundberg Performed by Matt Lowery & Fresh Fire

.

Developed and Written by Dave Pflueger March 2005 © copyrighted by Pflueger

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13. A Holy Life: Christian Deification

Go East Young Man

The Orthodox Study Bible that is published by Nelson has a wonderful notation in the Letter to the Ephesians under chapter one on this subject. “Everything comes from God and everything should be drawn back to Him. God’s original intent for the Incarnation was not redemption from the fall (original sin) but adoption as children of God, that is, deification. For when the God contemplated creating the world, He planned on bringing it into union with Himself through the Incarnation of His Son, that is, through the Son’s union with human nature.” Now that we have introduced the subject let is explore what deification is. The theology of Christian deification is an ancient principle that is still a living concept of the fabric of the Byzantine Christians. Among some Protestants deification is known as “Sanctification.” In Christian deification one becomes like God, but not God. From the book of Genesis we receive the foundation for the theology of deification, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness” Genesis 1:26. In other words, if God was a star, we would not become the star, but the glowing brightness of the star. Therefore, Christian deification is not the end of a processes, it is the process itself; a journey toward the presence of the Living God (the further we go the more we glow). In the Book, “My Utmost For His Highest,” Reverend Oswald Chambers describes sanctification (deification) in this way, “Sanctification means to be intensely focused on God’s point of view. It means to secure and to keep all the strength of our body, soul, and spirit for God’s purpose alone.” Robert Gromacki said this about sanctification, “Progressive sanctification is the process by which he can be set apart from a sinful walk to a holy practice.”

Augustine: Great Man – Wrong Ideas

Ever since Saint Augustine developed the Christian Doctrine of Original Sin (a.k.a. The Doctrine of the Depravity of Human Nature) western Christianity has had to deal with what he wrote. However, from the Ascension of Christ to the writings of Augustine the Councils of the Church never formally accepted or even seriously entertained the thought of such a doctrine. Today, the Byzantine Christians still have not accepted Doctrine of Original Sin by Augustine and think of it as liberal western theology.

Nonetheless, the early Church fully and completely understood the meaning of depravity; that is – corrupt acts and practices. These transgressions are centered in human beings misusing their God given gift of Free Will and choosing to separate themselves from the Holy by making wrong choices and therefore rebelling against God. While Free Will can be at the center of human rebellion, it does not change the fact that we are born with original purity and created in the image of the Holy and thus we are filled with the inward and spiritual grace of God.

A Personal Relationship with the Holy

Our own personal deification continues to develop and grow as we draw nearer to God and this relationship deepens our spiritual life as well as our relationship with God and all that God has created. At the heart of our relationship with God is the love that God has for humanity and for all that God has created. Moreover, this Holy Love is the first and greatest Sacred Mystery that humankind can experience on a daily bases. Love is the center point of God, and from this point came our pure creation in the image of God. The Almighty God is the lover of our souls, and desires us to move into a deeper relationship with us. God does not desire to be separated from us and always wants us to return to the warm and embracing hold that only the Holy One can offer humankind.

Here, O Israel: LORD is our God, LORD is One! You shall love LORD your God with all your heart, and with your soul, and with all your strength (Deut. 6:4) and, you shall love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18). It is through our relationship with our God that our relationships with our neighbors can begin. It is in our relationship with God that we grow and develop our humanity. It is our relationship with God that we become more knowledgeable of whom we are as individuals. And it is through our relationship with God that we receive and share the seen and unseen Sacred graces and blessings from God. With a focus on committing our whole being to loving God, our neighbor, and living a moral life, we gain more and more insight to what purpose that God has in mind for us, in addition, as the purpose becomes clearer, we will know both our mission and the ministry that will serve as the vehicle for the purpose. This insight will come through our prayerful meditations and our devotion to our relationship with God.

A key objective of |Judaism| is the sanctification of life. Every moment ought to be suffused with the awareness of God and with moral fervor.  Basic Judaism by Rabbi Milton Steinberg.

Scriptural Reflections on the Christian Deification

Genesis 1:26: “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness.

Matthew 5:48: Therefore you should be prefect, just as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.

John 1:132: As many as received him, to them he gave authority to become the children of God.

James 1:4: Let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and whole, wanting nothing.

According as his divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the moral corruption that is in the world through lust.

And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue add knowledge; And to knowledge add temperance; and to temperance add patience; and to patience add godliness; And to godliness add family kindness; and to kindness add charity.

2 Peter 1:3-7: For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John 2:5: Whosoever keeps God’s word, in them truly is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that are in God.

Written by Dave Pflueger March 1999 © copyrighted by Pflueger

11. A Class on the Holy Trinity

celtic_trinity_knot

This lecture was presented during summer of 2010 in the Responsible Living Unit of the Pierce County jail in the State of Washington.

THE PREFACE FOR THE CLASS

The Prayer:  Almighty God, send your Spirit upon me, so that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.

The Text:  The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark (12:29-30), “Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, LORD our God, LORD is one. And you shall love LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’”

The class is seated … “Please be seated.”

The Greeting: Greetings everyone – May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

If appropriate acknowledgements of individuals.

The Title: Our subject on this day of the Lord, is “An Introduction of the Holy Trinity.

The Reason:  The reason why I am teaching on the Holy Trinity, is so that you may have an introduction to the Trinity.

The Points: The points of this class will be … 1. The Father. 2. The Word 3. The Holy Spirit.

THE INTRODUCTION FOR THE CLASS

I begin this introduction with a statement made by Jesus, “I will pray to the Father and He will give you another Helper (John 14:16).” Here, in his own words Jesus clearly mentions the Holy Trinity when he said, “I, Father, and Helper.” This passage gives us an insight on how the seamlessly the Trinity interacts within itself, the Son asks the Father, then the Father grants and sends the Spirit. From the first pages of the Bible, it is clear that God is one; in the Book of Genesis of the Hebrew Scriptures it is written, “[God said,] Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness (Gen 1:26).” Through using the words “Us” and “Our” it becomes clear from the start that God was more than one, but three in complete union with each other, a union that is for the most part beyond our limited human imagination. Although is God beyond our comprehension, we do have a unity we can grasp, ourselves. Each one of us has a mind, body, and soul. These three things are woven together and constitutes who we are. Today I will not offer you in-depth discourse on the Holy Trinity, which is a great mystery, but instead an introduction; one that should be understood as a summary of the subject.

THE BODY OF THE CLASS

With these in mind, let us turn our attention to my first point, the Father.

I will begin my introduction of God with LORD and this thought, the body of God is the one we call LORD, a real and existing presence. However, the body of God is beyond our human comprehension. You can see the body that light has and we cannot see the body that sound has, but we know that they are real and have a real existence.

While God is known by many titles and names, I will focus on only a few. The eternal and living God is known as I AM and the name for God is spelled YHWH. This name for God is pronounced in English as “Yahweh” and most English Bibles replace both the letters YHWH and the word Yahweh with the name LORD, which is always spelled entirely using capital letters. Unfortunately, most English Bibles have put the word “the” before the name LORD and thus changed it from a name to a title. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures LORD made himself known and his desire for humanity to live in harmony with him and each other. The Jewish Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth knew LORD very well and called him Father. Throughout his earthly life Jesus proclaimed his love and union with the one whom he called Father. Because Jesus called LORD Father Christianity has continued his practice.

LORD is the universal one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all. (Eph 4:6) For the most part the ability to be over, in, and through all at the same moment in time is beyond the limitations of our intellect and we can only grasp a little piece of the bigger picture. Therefore, it is enough for us to acknowledge that LORD, through the Word, is the creator and of everything throughout the universe; and as such, “LORD is our Father, [and] we are the clay, and [he is] the potter. We all are formed by [his] hand (Is 64:8).”

We should not find it strange that the one who is called LORD is not only our God, but also our Father. For as it is written, “Is not he your Father who created you? Has he not made you and established you (Deut 32:6)?” Yes indeed, he has done these things and he is our Father.

With this in mind, Judaism believes children belong to God and therefore parents do not own their children. In this context parents are caretakers and guardians of the children of God. Throughout his life among us, Jesus reflected this and reduce the emphasis on his earthly parents and focused on his relationship with his true Father, who was also God. Again and again, Jesus made it clear that God was his true Father and humanity was his brothers and sisters. Jesus wanted his followers to strongly embrace this Jewish concept and commit themselves to a relationship with their true Father. To this end, Jesus taught them a prayer that clearly directed them to their true parent, who is “Our Father, who is in heaven (Matt 6:9-13).” Throughout the Lord’s Prayer Jesus affirms that the one who is in heaven is our real Father; and like any father who truly cares for his children, our Father takes an interest in our lives, and he will respond to us – according to what is in our best interests.

I will begin my final thought on God the Father with a gem from Billy Graham, “We are still His children, even when we disobey. We feel guilty and ashamed, and sometimes we simply want to hide. But God still loves us, and He wants to forgive us and welcome us back!”

God does not does not want us to disobey him, but instead he wants us to walk in his ways. However, we are only human and through our weaknesses we will disobey and find ourselves in sin. “But when we sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. “He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world (1 John 2:1-2).”

The second point: The Son – the Word.

My introduction on the Word, the logos of God, begins before the Word was born in Bethlehem and two passages written by the Apostle John gives us an introductory foundation for this. The first passage is found in the Gospel he wrote, here it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him (John 1:1-3).” The second passage comes from a letter he wrote and begins in which the same way he wrote the Gospel. “We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen … he is the Word of Life (1 John 1:1).” These verses from the Apostle John provide those of faith some basic evidence that Jesus was among humanity before his human birth.

The Logos, the Word, is what created the universe and is the family redeemer of the family known as Christianity. Through the Word everything was created, from the very “beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1).” This was accomplished when the Word of LORD merely spoke, and the heavens were created. “He breathed the word, and all the stars were born (Ps 33:6-7).” Both through breath (Spirit) and voice (Word) LORD gave life and created everything on the earth and the far expansions of the universe, beyond our planetary system. The ability to create from absolutely nothing is only one great and amazing mystery of God, another mystery of God is the ability to be everywhere at every moment. The Word is the kinsmen redeemer of humanity and the one who promises to deliver, vindicate, and defend the children of God. The Word claims the privilege to act on our behalf when we are troubled, needy, or in danger. When we have allowed ourselves to be enticed by temptation and make mistakes, the Word will deliver us by paying the full price for our freedom and when we are trouble by the circumstances of our lives, the Word will comfort us. As our deliverer, the Word will redeem us with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of good judgement.

The prophet Isaiah foretold the manner in which the Word would enter human existence when he wrote. “The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son (Is 7:14).” At the appointed time, the Spirit of LORD came upon Mary and through a mystery of this presence she conceived a child. Therefore, the conception and birth of Christ does not require the intellectual reasoning of the human mind but instead the faith of the human heart. Jesus was born to Mary, his biological mother, and his step-father, Joseph, in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod (Matt 2:1). Do not allow this to surprise you, because Jews receive their identity through their mothers, not their fathers.

The birth and life of Jesus came about because “God so loved the world, that he gave it his only begotten son, so that whoever believes in him should not parish, but instead will have everlasting life (John 3:16).” Therefore, Jesus did not come [among humanity] to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). Giving his life as a ransom meant death by crucifixion and through this “we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the wealth of his grace (Eph 1:7).”

Now let us turn our attention to a mystery even more profound than the birth of Jesus, his resurrection from the dead. After his death, the human body of Jesus spent three days in the tomb, then he rose from the dead; we know this because the Scriptures say, on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the tomb … and they found the stone rolled away from it; they entered the tomb and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus (Luke 24:1-3). After his body was not found in the tomb, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of his disciples and said to them “Peace be to you (Luke 24:36).” One might ask, why did he have a resurrection; after all he had secured salvation and a right relation with God through his death? The beat and simplest answer is this, Christ died and rose again for this very purpose – to be “Lord of both of the living and of the dead (Rom 14:9).” This is the mastery of the sovereign LORD and God of all things seen and unseen. If his birth was a soft message that he was God, then his resurrection would be a thunderous proclamation of his divinity. Here the Word leaves no doubt that God created everything through him (John 1:3), including the creation of life and death.

I will leave this introduction on the Word with this reflection, when Jesus had completed his earthly ministries and finished instructing his apostles, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him (Acts 1:9). Jesus ended his time among humanity with another clear sign that he is the one known as LORD. Rather than simply disappearing in the middle of the night when everyone was asleep, he decided to give his apostles one final sign that he was God. While the Transfiguration had a limited audience (Luke 9:28-36) this Transfiguration and Ascension was seen by all the apostles and may be some of the disciples. Here the followers of Jesus saw heaven open its doors and witnessed the angelic company receive their king. What the apostles saw that day stayed with them for he reminder of their lives, it inspired them to always reflect upon the teachings of Jesus and motivated them to continue his work among humanity. On that day, Jesus went from being their teacher, to being their king of peace.

The third point: The Holy Spirit.

I begin my introduction on the Holy Spirit with a reflection, the Holy Spirit is everywhere and fills everything, including you and me. The Spirit of God is the means by which we receive the blessings, strength, and gifts from God. Have you ever felt a sudden inspiration to write some something? Have you ever been in a circumstance when you realize that you have strength you do not normally have? If you have or know someone who has, then listen to this; “the Spirit of LORD is the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Strength, the Spirit of Knowledge, and the fear of LORD (Is 11:2).”

The Holy Spirit is our counselor who will guide and support us on our spiritual journey. Our Lord Jesus confirms this when he said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who will lead you into all truth (John 14:16-17).” Christ also taught that the Spirit is not only an Advocate, but our mentor, “When the Father sends the Advocate as my representative – this is, the Holy Spirit – he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you (John 14:26).”

The Holy Spirit is the Breath of Life who gives life to everything upon the earth; we know this because the Book of Genesis says, “LORD God … breathed the Breath of Life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person (Gen 1:7)” and in the Book of Job we read, “the Spirit of God has made me, and the Breath of the Almighty gave me life (Job 33:4).”

In light of this, it only makes that sense that the Breath of Life is also the one who sanctifies us; therefore, salvation comes through the Spirit who “makes [us] holy and through [our] belief in the truth (2 Thess 2:13).” This salvation came about long before our birth, God the Father knew [us] and chose [us] long ago, and his “Spirit has made [us] holy (1 Pet 1:1).”

Concerning the Bible, the Spirit of Wisdom and Knowledge breathed into all Scripture and therefore it is given by inspiration of God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17).

And my final reflection on the Holy Spirit is the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:21-22).” Through the Breath of Christ, the Apostles were anointed with the Spirit and commissioned for the ministry of preaching, teaching, and absolution. This was also further evidence that Jesus was resurrected and indeed living, because a ghost does not breathe.

THE CONCLUSION

In conclusion, what I have offered before you, was an introduction to the Christian deity known as the Holy Trinity, a living and true God who desires to be in communion and fellowship with mankind. A God who calls each and every one of us, for the purpose of having a personal relationship. A God who is not just up there, but also very much among us and making our hearts his dwelling place.

Each and everyone one of us has a body, mind, and spirit, and this is true for God. The living God that is beyond our imagination has a body we call Father, a mind we know as the Word, his logos, and a Spirit. I will close with the words of one of the ancient Creeds of Christianity. “There are not three eternal beings, but one who is eternal; as there are not three uncreated and unlimited beings, but one who is uncreated and unlimited. … Thus the Father is Lord; the Son is Lord; the Holy Spirit is Lord; and yet there are not three lords, but one Lord (The Athanasian Creed).”

Written by Dave Pflueger July 2010 © copyrighted by Pflueger