Friday, 2 January 2015

On the ninth day of Christmas ...

Apple having put aside their Twelve Days of Christmas giveaway this year has given me the chance to get people thinking, praying, learning, listening (to some great music) and finding app's they might not have otherwise done: Day Nine ...

The Church
Today the Church celebrates a few people, two of whom are Basil the Great (no, not the mouse detective) and Gregory of Nazianzus - a couple of Bishops (and teachers of the Faith) from the late 4th Century - an eighteenth century  Russian Monk, Seraphim of Sarov - and a more modern twentieth century, South Indian, Bishop and Evangelist, Vedanayagam Samuel Azariah.

So what did they ever do to be remembered:

Basil, Bishop in Cappadocia, was one of those who opposed heresy wherever it was found (especially Arianism and Apollinarianism), is regarded by many as the father of the monastic way of life and was a great theological thinker of his day. He is celebrated by both Easter and Western churches.

Gregory, Archbishop of Constantinople, brought things Hellenistic into the emerging Church and was force behind the development, nay, establishment) of Trinitarian theology in the Church. He and Basil were two of the 'Cappadocian Fathers' (Gregory of Nyssa, being the the third man). Another man the traditional Church venerates.

Seraphim of Sarov was one who taught that the goal of the Christian life was to be in communion with the Holy Spirit. The Orthodox believers quote him thus: "Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved." And other hero of both East and West.

Bishop Azariah apart from being the first Indian bishop was a pioneer of Christian ecumenism in India and was opposed by Gandhi's for his work in uniting Christians and removing differences between nationals and the colonial, ruling, classes. A real hero of the faith who stood for the Gospel before nationalistic demands and desires. Only remembered in the Western Church, but that's the Eastern Church's loss!

The World
Whilst most of the Western world has taken down the lights and put away the baubles and decorations leaving the tree to be collected along with the other detritus of Christmas the other half of the world is looking forward to celebrating Christmas as the Magi finally reach the Christ child.

In Turkey the government are banning the use of lifts in an attempt to diminish waistlines - now that's a desperate measure indeed!

Another 'crewels' ship, this time containing around 1,000 would be immigrants have been rescued after the crew left the vessel on autopilot and abandoned ship (and them). Apparently there has been an increase in Kurds and Syrian migrant activity of late and yet still nothing on the IS front as far as the popular press is concerned.

Relationships between Israel and Palestine are looking to decline as Palestine moves closer to membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC), something that will open the door to membership of many other bodies which will in turn strengthen the case for Palestine as an independent country with rights. A real chalet prayer and a 'watch this space' moment as 2015 begins to unwind.

Russia receives a string rebuff as Lithuania joins the euro zone and, as Russia continues its 'strong-arm' posturing in the region, makes a firm statement of intent and allegiance. Another place to be watching and praying over, especially as the first military fatality of 2015 is announced in Ukraine! The Russian economy is in trouble (and so is the West if they turn off the gas apparently) and Putin will need to put on a show to keep things the way he wants - Ooo'er.

A giveaway?
I am almost always amazed at the tripe that some of the big-haired, gold bedecked, flashy toothed American TV preachers spout. These people who pay themselves multiple thousands of dollars for peddling unbiblical tosh to a bunch of people who more often than not cannot afford it - the promise of prosperity and health and success because you're a Christian (you know the stuff I'm sure) - so it's rather nice to find somewhere offering Greek and Hebrew courses and downloads of great material for iPads and reader and the like.

Take a look here and see what takes your fancy and make 2015 a year when you extend your theological thinking skills

Something to listen to
Do you have friends you'd like to convince  that Christianity might not be for them? The look no further than this:

And for those who like a laugh at the arrogance of blind prejudice rebranded as science defeated by something else:

Lord God,
whose servants Basil and Gregory proclaimed the mystery of your Word made flesh,
to build up your Church in wisdom and strength:
grant that we may rejoice in his presence among us,
and so be brought with them to know the power of your unending love;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.Amen.

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