O Lord, have mercy.
We are a church under judgment. We are reaping the harvest of arrogance and rebellion. We have worshipped mammon. Our sins have broken the Anglican Communion. Like Pontius Pilate, we ask ‘What is truth?’ and scourge the body of Christ.
Our disobedience and unforgiveness have filled the Communion with the stench of festering wounds instead of the sweet aroma of obedience and love. Our strength fails, and our hope is a dying ember.
Bring to our minds those sins You wish us to declare. We have been fools, and we are sorry.
You are our hope. You are our heart’s desire. Do not forsake us. Make haste to help us. Help us to walk in obedience, forgiveness, and love. Amen.
Psalm 38, John 18:38, 2 Corinthians 2:17
O Lord, have mercy.
This is part 4 of a 15 part series examining the historical antecedents of the Anglican Communion.
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So it depends not upon man’s will or exertion, but upon God’s mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh, “I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy upon whomever he wills, and he hardens the heart of whomever he wills.
Romans 9: 14-18
In the winter of 1501-1502, Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester, Knight of the Garter, and heir-apparent to the throne of England, traveled to Ludlow castle, near the Welsh border, with his new bride, Catherine of Aragon. After arriving, both contracted some sort of illness. History does not record what the illness was, but it was obviously quite serious. Catherine survived, but the young Prince Arthur died on April 2. He was 15. Arthur’s father, King Henry VII, had one other son. Prince Henry was 10 years old when his older brother died. Up until that fateful moment, he was being prepared for the priesthood. Suddenly, he found himself being prepared for the throne.
The widowed Catherine, now 16, could have been packed off back to Spain, but that would have meant the forfeiture of her dowry. The tight-fisted Henry VII proposed to her father, King Ferdinand, that she be wed to his surviving son. Such a marriage was technically forbidden by the church under rules governing affinity—when a man and woman are wed, they are in the eyes of the church blood relatives. Marrying a deceased brother’s widow was the same as marrying one’s own sister. But affinity rules, unlike prohibitions against actual incest, could be waived by dispensation from the Pope. Catherine also claimed that her marriage to Arthur had never been consummated, which, if true, meant that they were never actually married at all. At the time that the advisability of the marriage was being considered, the affinity issue was considered a minor detail. It would later become a matter of first order national importance.
Royal marriages were the subject of elaborate contracts. Negotiations dragged along. Prince Henry was initially too young. A dispensation was needed from the Pope. King Henry began to see a reduced value in a continued alliance with Spain. Catherine remained in England, but received an allowance from neither her father nor King Henry. Her clothing reached a state of disrepair. She could not pay her servants.
Then, in 1509, her situation changed abruptly. In April of that year, Henry VII fell ill and died. He was 52. Prince Henry was 17, and now master of his own fate. He was young, he was strong and handsome, and he was old enough to govern in his own name. He understood at once that he would need to beget some heirs, and he would need a queen in order to do that. There was no need to spend a great deal of time searching for the daughter of a royal family and conducting extensive negotiations. Tentative arrangements had already been made. A potential queen, whom he held in great affection and found sufficiently attractive, was already at hand. A dispensation had been obtained from the Pope. There seemed no good reason not to make good on his father’s proposal to King Ferdinand. In June, Henry and Catherine were married. Two weeks later he was crowned King Henry VIII and Catherine was crowned Queen consort. They set about their royal duty to produce heirs.
Between 1510 and 1518, two sons and four daughters were born to the couple. Three daughters were stillborn. One son lived a few hours, and another lived less than two months. A single daughter survived early infancy. Princess Mary Tudor was born February 18, 1516. No one, least of all her celebrating parents, could have imagined that this child would as an adult inspire widespread fear and hatred. In 1553 she would begin a tumultuous reign as queen of England and Ireland. History remembers her by the name of Bloody Mary.
Father, forgive us our sins. We have broken your holy laws. We have been consumed with greed. We have not loved the members of our own family, nor treated our spouses as our own flesh. We have sought to control that which you control. We have broken our promises.
Father, the sins of our ancestors continue even in our generation. We are dishonest. We are not generous. We seek power for power’s sake. We disregard your holy laws, and bend them to our own design.
Have mercy, Father. Use the blood shed by Jesus on the cross to cleanse the sins of our ancestors and our own sins. Wipe clean this stain on our history. Restore us. Break the cycle of repeated sins. Free us from bondage to this history. Begin a new creation in which you are our God and we are your people.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord and true King.
We learned earlier about the marriage of King Æthelberht of Kent to Bertha, a Christian. A rumor had reached Rome that the pagan inhabitants of Britain were ready to embrace the Faith in great numbers, if only preachers could be found to instruct them. Pope Gregory commissioned 40 Benedictines of Italian blood to the task. Discouragement, however, appears early to have overtaken them on their way. Tales of the uncouth islanders to whom they were going chilled their enthusiasm, and some of their number actually proposed that they should draw back. Augustine so far compromised with the waverers that he agreed to return in person to Pope Gregory and lay before him plainly the difficulties which they might be compelled to encounter. The band of missionaries waited for him in the neighbourhood of Aix-en-Provence. Pope Gregory, however, raised the drooping spirits of Augustine and sent him back without delay to his faint-hearted brethren, armed with more precise, and as it appeared, more convincing authority. Augustine was named abbot of the missionaries.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We thank You for the stalwart faith of St. Gregory and St. Augustine of Canterbury. The road to Canterbury has been fraught with discouragement. Our enthusiasm is chilled. Raise up leaders who will bolster the drooping spirits of the faithful. Make Your face to shine upon and grant Your spiritual authority to those men and women that You have chosen as exhorters for this Lambeth Conference, we pray in the name of Christ our Lord. Amen.
Heavenly Father, whose ascended Son gave gifts of leadership and service to the Church: strengthen the Anglican Communion bishops and Primates to be good stewards of your manifold grace; through him who came not to be served but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many, Jesus Christ our Lord. (adapted from CoE Common Worship Collects)
Selected Passages from today’s lectionary:
2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,
3 who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways!
4 You have commanded your precepts
to be kept diligently.
5 Oh that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes!
Romans 9:16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
(posted by KB)
Currently, Rev. Timothy Fountain, a L&B intercessor, is leading a 40-day period of prayer and fasting for the Lakota Indian Rosebud Reservation, which has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Please follow his prayers at Northern Plain Anglicans.
The earth is full of Your steadfast love. By Your word, the heavens were made, and the starry host by the breath of Your mouth.
Speak Your light into the Rosebud Reservation. Breathe Hosannas into the air.
By ancient glaciers, You shaped the soil of South Dakota into hills and plains.
Wash away the violence and shed blood, the curses and condemnation. Sow seeds of Alleluias into the soil
You gathered the waters of the Keya Paha River, the Little White River, and the Minnechaduza Creek in their courses. Pour out Your blessings into these waters. Stir new songs of praise into its currents.
Bellow shouts of triumph, O boulders. Whisper sonnets of love, O wind. Clap Your hands, O trees. Rejoice, Rosebud. Rejoice. The kingdom of God is at hand. Amen.
Therefore he has mercy on whom he wills, and whom he wills he hardens. (Romans 9:18 )
Holy Spirit, please soften my heart.
You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who has resisted his will?” (Romans 9:19)
For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight– that you may be found just when you speak, and blameless when you judge. (Psalm 51:3-4)
But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? (Romans 9:20-21)
Words Received for Sunday School Lesson 01
And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, (Luke 7:37)
A word received: People come to the prayer table, people come and sit in the back of the church; welcome them as I welcomed this woman.
and stood at his feet behind him weeping; and she began to wash his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed his feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. (Luke 7:38 )
A word received: Remember the man who shed tears of repentance on the prayer table and I told you that was holy water. I want you to value, as I do, tears of repentance.
Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This man, if he were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” (Luke 7:39)
A word received: I want you to examine your hearts when you meet my little ones who have been led in sin. Remember my parable of bringing every lost sheep back on my shoulders rejoicing. Never despise the one I have rescued.
And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.” (Luke 7:40)
A word received: Will you hearken to my words to you?
A Prayer for the Clergy and People.
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who alone workest great marvels; Send down upon our Bishops, and Curates, and all Congregations committed to their charge, the healthful Spirit of thy grace; and that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honour of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Wednesday: 12, 13, 14; Deuteronomy 1:1-18; Romans 9:1-18; Matthew 23:27-39
Thursday: 18:21-50; Deuteronomy 3:18-28; Romans 9:19-33; Matthew 24:1-14